No Japanese developer has succeeded at being a truly international company, says Square Enix boss Yoichi Wada.
Japanese culture is very different from anything you might find in the West, born of centuries of unique history. According to Square Enix chief executive Yoichi Wada, it doesn't export well either, which is why Japanese companies struggle when they begin to spread out.
"We have to appeal to customers with different preferences. Sega did not succeed. Konami did not succeed. Namco Bandai did not succeed," Wada said. "Western publishers have not succeeded in selling in Japan. Nobody has succeeded at globalization."
Wada says that the problem starts when Western developers are asked to do things as they would be done in Japan. "[Globalization] hasn't succeeded because it was always based on Japanese direction. It was Japanese people who commissioned the Western developers to make games. We acquired Eidos. By doing this, we have incorporated them in our group. They have become part of our family. It was not like we acquired slaves," Wada said. "What I wanted to do is create an environment where completely different ethnic groups can coexist in the same company. "
"It is important that what's in America should be handled by Americans. The same goes in Europe and in Japan. These people who are deeply rooted in their own cultures can engage in their own dialogues. The mistakes I have seen so far are when Japanese people try to do everything the Japanese way, using Japanese workers in different areas of the world."
With Square Enix now responsible for a number of high-profile Western franchises like Tomb Raider and Deus Ex, how the company is managed impacts more than the its traditional audience. Fortunately, Wada's answer to the globalization question seems a pretty solid one, and letting people work in a way that comes naturally to them sounds like a surefire way to get better results.