Square Enix has reportedly done away with its internal music team, laying off the composers responsible for scores in games including Dissidia, The Last Remnant and Final Fantasy.
The music team was cut for budgetary reasons, according to a report by Square Enix Music Online. Square Enix will now rely primarily on independent composers and production studios to create the scores for their games, similar to the approach taken by many Western developers, which is generally cheaper than maintaining an internal music department. Among those affected by the cuts:
- Masashi Hamauzu (Final Fantasy XIII, Dirge of Cerberus, SaGa Frontier II)
- Junya Nakano (Final Fantasy X, Threads of Fate, Musashi: Samurai Legend)
- Tsuyoshi Sekito (The Last Remnant, Dawn of Mana, Founder of The Black Mages)
- Naoshi Mizuta (Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy Gaiden, Founder of The Star Onions)
- Kumi Tanioka (Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Chocobo Series, Code Age Commanders)
- Takeharu Ishimoto (The World Ends With You, Dissidia, Compilation of Final Fantasy VII)
The decision to close down the music team was actually made at the end of 2009 and was responsible for a number of "well-publicized" departures from the company over the past few months. How deep the cuts actually go isn't yet clear but it's rumored that aside from the six principal composers, the layoffs could affect synthesizer operators, sound programmers and other related staff.
Among the contractors the publisher will "rely extensively" on are the studios operated by former Square Enix composers Nobuo Uematsu, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Yoko Shimomura, and Kenji Ito. Some of the composers affected by the shutdown, each of whom had been with the company for 12 to 15 years, could also find themselves working in a similar capacity, creating music for Square Enix games as independent musicians.