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   is a video game and publishing company based in Japan best known for its console role-playing game franchises, which include the Dragon Quest series, the Final Fantasy series, and the action-RPG Kingdom Hearts series.


Square Enix was formed as the result of a merger between Square Co. and the Enix Corporation. On April 1, 2003, Enix legally absorbed Square, with Square stockholders receiving 0.85 shares of stock in the new company compared to Enix stockholders receiving a one-to-one trade. As part of the merger, many of the top officials within Square Co. assumed the leadership roles in the new corporate hierarchy, including president Yōichi Wada, who was appointed president of the new corporation.

The company also owns Taito Corporation and Square Enix Europe (which owns fellow publisher and developer Eidos Interactive). Eidos will cease to exist as a publisher, as it has been absorbed into a new subsidiary Square Enix Europe. Square Enix will now publish all of Eidos' owned IPs and currently owns Eidos' development studios. Eidos was most well known for Tomb Raider and Hitman which Square Enix will now publish and is also well known for the Championship Manager series of games.Sony Computer Entertainment owns most of the shares in the company as of 2006.

Corporate history

  • April 1, 2003 - Square Enix formed.
  • July 2003 - Square Enix relocated its headquarters to Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo.
  • March 2004 - Square Enix acquired UIEvolution, Inc. in order to strengthen its wireless market.
  • January 2005 - Square Enix founded Square Enix (China) Co., Ltd (China), expanding their interests in the People's Republic of Chinamarker (The company also has a controlling interest in Community Network Software Engine of Beijing, China which focuses on network middle-ware for gaming)
  • August 22, 2005 - Square Enix announced its acquisition of the gaming developer and publisher, Taito Corporation, renowned for their arcade hits, Space Invaders and the Bubble Bobble series.
  • September 28, 2005 -The acquisition of Taito is completed.
  • week of September 5, 2006 - Square Enix sued for breaking a contract with Soft-World International.
  • December 2007, UIEvolution splits from Square Enix to become an independent company
  • August 29, 2008 - Square Enix made plans for a friendly takeover of Tecmo by purchasing shares at a 30 percent premium with a total bid of 22.3 billion yen.
  • September 4, 2008 - Square Enix withdrew their offer after Tecmo rejected the proposed takeover. Pure Dreams series formed.
  • February 12, 2009 - Square Enix announced a takeover deal worth £84.3 million (32p per share) for Eidos plc, the holding company for Eidos Interactive, the UKmarker-based publisher of the Tomb Raider, Hitman and Deus Ex franchises.
  • April 22, 2009 - The acquisition of Eidos is completed
  • week of June 24, 2009 - Square Enix sued for deceiving MMO customers.


Business model

The business model of Square Enix is centered on the idea of "polymorphic content", which consists in developing franchises on all potential hardware or media rather than being restricted by a single gaming platform. An early example of this strategy is Enix's Full Metal Alchemist manga series, which has been adapted into an anime TV series, a movie and several novels and video games. Other polymorphic projects include Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Code Age, World of Mana, Ivalice Alliance and Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII. According to Yoichi Wada, "it's very difficult to hit the jackpot, as it were. Once we've hit it, we have to get all the juice possible out of it".

The standard game design model of Square Enix is to establish the plot, characters and art of the game first. Battle systems, field maps and cutscenes are created next. A typical game of the company involves a team of at most 200 people. Square Enix doesn't usually use other companies' engines, preferring to code from scratch. According to Taku Murata, Square Enix has settled into this game making model since Square's Final Fantasy VII in 1997 and did not try other approaches since, as Enix did not have any internal development studio. Similar to Sony's Greatest Hits program, Square Enix sometimes re-releases games under the Ultimate Hits label, a designation given to games that have achieved a certain level of sales, at a reduced retail price.

In 2004, Square Enix began to work on a "common 3D format" which would allow the entire company to develop titles without being restricted to a specific platform: this led to the creation of a game engine, named Crystal Tools, which is compatible with the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, Windows-based PCs and to some extent the Wii. Nevertheless, Square Enix has also begun considering other companies' engines and programming languages, licencing Epic Games' Unreal engine in 2007 for use in The Last Remnant, and using the Squirrel language for the WiiWare title Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.

Production teams

Organization of Square Enix (Japan) in 2003
Production team Headed by Notable game series
Square
1 Yoshinori Kitase Final Fantasy
2 Akitoshi Kawazu Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
3 Hiromichi Tanaka Final Fantasy
4 Yasumi Matsuno Final Fantasy
5 Yusuke Hirata All Star Pro-Wrestling
6 Toshiro Tsuchida Front Mission
7 Takashi Tokita Hanjuku Hero
8 Koichi Ishii Mana
Enix
9 Ari Miyake Dragon Quest
10 Yosuke Saito Tri-Ace-developed games


As of September 2003, Square Enix's production staff was divided in eight different Square teams and two Enix teams. As of May 2005, Production Team 10 was headed by Yoshinori Yamagishi. Yusuke Hirata left Square Enix in June 2005 to join Aquaplus, Yasumi Matsuno left in August 2005 for speculated reasons. and Koichi Ishii left in April 2007 to start his company Grezzo.

Properties

Video games

Square Enix's main concentration is on video gaming. Of its properties, the Final Fantasy franchise is the best-selling of Square-Enix's properties, with total worldwide sales of over 80 million units as of 2007. Square Enix's Dragon Quest franchise is considered the third most popular game series in Japan after Mario and Pokémon, and new installments regularly outsell other games at the times of their release. Of the 51 million units of games in the series sold so far, about 47.8 million have been from Japan, and about 2.2 million have been from North America. More recently, Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series (developed in collaboration with Disney's Buena Vista Games) has become popular.

In early 2003, Square Enix's U.S. subsidiary registered the Dragon Quest trademark, retiring the Dragon Warrior moniker, which was necessitated in 1989 due a trademark conflict with the now defunct TSR, Inc. In May 2004 Square Enix announced an agreement with Sony Online Entertainment for the Japanese publishing rights to EverQuest II. Square Enix has produced or is producing titles for most major consoles beginning with the Nintendo Entertainment System, though never on a Sega platform. Square Enix has historically developed exclusively for certain consoles. The company developed its flagship games almost exclusively for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2 in their respective eras. However, Square Enix is not developing all of its major titles for one console exclusively in the seventh generation, as they have done in the past, but will instead release the next major installment in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in North America and Europe, and has recently announced that Dragon Quest X will be released on the Wii. Square Enix has developed titles for handheld game consoles, including the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable. In addition, they have published games for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers, and for various models of mobile phones. Square Enix mobile phone games are available on the Vodafone network in some European countries, including Irelandmarker, Great Britainmarker, Spainmarker, and Francemarker. Twenty five of Square Enix's video games were included in Famitsu magazine's top 100 games, seven being in the top ten list, with Final Fantasy X claiming the number one position.

Before its launch, Michihiro Sasaki, senior vice president of Square Enix, spoke about the PlayStation 3, saying "We don't want the PlayStation 3 to be the overwhelming loser, so we want to support them, but we don't want them to be the overwhelming winner either, so we can't support them too much." Square Enix continued to reiterate their devotion to multi-platform publishing in 2007, promising more support for the North American and European gaming markets where console pluralism is generally more prevalent than in Japan. Their interest in multi-platform development was made clear in 2008 when the previously PlayStation 3-exclusive game Final Fantasy XIII was announced for release on the Xbox 360. However, Square Enix has yet to release a single game for the Playstation 3 Platform as of today.

In 2008 Square Enix and Gas Powered Games announced partnership on the game Supreme Commander 2. On July 8, 2008, Square Enix released their first game for the iPod, Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes. Also in 2008, Square Enix made a new brand for kids gaming, known as Pure Dreams. Its purpose is to create games suitable for kids. The brand is now planning more games. Pure Dreams have just completed their first two games, Snoopy DS: Let's Go Meet Snoopy and His friends (released in Japan on October 9, 2008) and Pingu's Wonderful Carnival (released in Japan on November 6, 2008). Both games are planned for a US release.

In 2009, Square Enix acquired Eidos, the company responsible for popular game series such as Tomb Raider and Hitman, as well as the publishing of the Windows versions of Final Fantasy VII and VIII. Square Enix has absorbed Eidos into a new division called Square Enix Europe. Future Eidos games will be published by Square Enix.

Online gaming

In 2001, Enix published its first online game Cross Gate in Japan, mainland China, and Taiwan.

Final Fantasy XI was first released before the merger by Square in Japan on May 16, 2002, for the PlayStation 2. In March 2004, Square Enix released the game worldwide. With the huge success from Final Fantasy XI, Microsoft had the game ported into the Xbox 360 in April 2006, making it the first Final Fantasy game ever to be on the Xbox console. Due to the success of their MMORPG, Square Enix began a new project called Fantasy Earth: The Ring of Dominion. GamePot, a Japanese game portal, got the license to publish Fantasy Earth in Japan and it was released in Japan as "Fantasy Earth ZERO." In November 2006, however, Square Enix dropped the Fantasy Earth Zero project, giving acquisition to GamePot.

A next-gen MMORPG code named Rapture is currently in development by the Final Fantasy XI team using the company's Crystal Tools engine. It was unveiled at E3 2009 that the MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, for Playstation 3 and Microsoft Windows, will be released in 2010.

Other media

The company has made two forays into the film industry. The first, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), was produced by Square subsidiary Square Pictures prior to the merger (Square Pictures is now a consolidated subsidiary of Square Enix). Its box-office failure caused Enix to delay the merger, which was already considered before the creation of the film, for fear of associating itself with a company that loses money. In 2005, Square Enix released Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, a CGI-animation movie based on the PlayStation game Final Fantasy VII, set two years after the events of the game.

The company also has a manga publishing division in Japan (originally from Enix) called Gangan Comics, which publishes content for the Japanese market only. Titles published by Gangan Comics include Black God, Papuwa, Pani Poni, Spiral, He is My Master, Yumekui Kenbun, Doubt, Bamboo Blade, Soul Eater, Zombie Loan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Other titles include manga adaptations of diverse Square Enix games, like Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts and Star Ocean. Some of these titles have also been adapted into anime series.

Fullmetal Alchemist so far is the most successful offspring of Square Enix's manga branch, with more than 30 million volumes sold in Japan alone. The anime series obtained great popularity and even spawned a movie sequel. Both series and movie are licensed to many locations worldwide (in North America by FUNimation Entertainment). The same occurs with its manga series, licensed in North America by Viz Media. Kingdom Hearts and Spiral were licensed in North America by Tokyopop; Tokyopop dropped Spiral, and the title is now pending release by Hachette's Yen Press, which licensed other Square Enix titles including Soul Eater, Bamboo Blade and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Other titles like Soul Eater, Sekirei, Bamboo Blade and Shikabane Hime also were adapted to TV, and a second Fullmetal Alchemist anime series recently debuted on April 5, 2009.

Subsidiaries



Reviews and ratings

  • The company won IGN's award for Best Developer of 2006 for the PlayStation 2.
  • Square Enix's North American subsidiary, Square Enix, Inc., joined The Better Business Bureau in July 2007 and was assigned a rating of "C+". The BBB rating has since been upgraded to "B–".


References

  1. Square Peg, European Hole Interview // None /// Eurogamer
  2. Square Dance // GamesIndustry.biz
  3. Gamasutra - GDC 2008 Event Coverage
  4. How WiiWare Changed Square Enix | Game | Life from Wired.com
  5. GDC08: Square Enix unveils Crystal Tools engine - Joystiq
  6. [1] p. 31 and 55
  7. RPGamer > Square-Enix Gives Chrono Break Trademark Some Playmates
  8. " Corporate Locations." Square Enix Japan. Retrieved September 20, 2008.




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