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The Man In Charge Of Reshaping Square Enix's U.S. Division
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The Man In Charge Of Reshaping Square Enix's U.S. Division


July 22, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next
 

What are your thoughts on launching new IP? Square Enix has very strong IP, from Final Fantasy to Hitman to Tomb Raider. What do you think about the need to launch new IP, to continue to grow new IP for the company?

MF: That's my passion. There's line of people outside my door every day trying to put classic Eidos or Square Enix properties, slap on whatever is the flavor of the month type of game, and that's really not something that we're interested in doing.

I think the reason our franchises have been so long-lived and strong is that they really are owned and managed by people with a passion for that. We don't just see them as properties to exploit, but really as the heart and soul of our company. So I'm really looking at the opportunity to work with new IP, and I think that's the opportunity for us to create some new value for the company.

I think that the importance of new IP is not just an imperative for Square Enix. It's one for the entire industry, and I am one of the biggest cheerleaders for Take-Two's success this year because whether it's, you know, LA Noire or Duke Nukem or Mafia or Red Dead Redemption, the fact that they're going out there, launching IP and being successful, makes retailers more willing to go out and support our new IP as well.

I realize Deus Ex is a classic franchise, right? But as far as most of retail is concerned, they still treat it as new IP. We're lucky we have a hardcore base of fans that are driving that word of mouth, but I think as an industry, it's in all of our best interest to do as much as we can to continue to drive new IP, reinvesting the money that we make from our classic franchises.

None of us can afford to rest on our laurels, and just continue to turn out old franchises. That has to be part of a system that creates new IP as well. And of course if you look at Final Fantasy, you know those games continue to be new stories time and time again. People look at the big numbers, but the fact of the matter is that's not recycling old content, that's continuing refreshing the brand so that Final Fantasy itself simply becomes a standalone brand, not necessarily a fixed set of characters and worlds.

To return to what you said about old IP being new IP: Duke Nukem is way old, had not been active. And as you said Deus Ex had not been active. You're saying if something's not around consistently, the way Final Fantasy is, retail views it as not a safe bet anymore?

MF: Right. Well, if you came out with a sequel of a game that sold two years ago, retail is going to look at what it sold two years ago and add or subtract some factor and tell you what you're going to do now.

When you are launching a Duke Nukem, where they're not going back to see what the original game sold and benchmarking it, they're looking at what you're doing to build that into a successful new franchise. As far as they're concerned, you're starting from zero. So from a PR or community management, obviously there's a great legacy you can build on, but when it actually comes to being at an industry trade show, it's a completely different dynamic.

It seems like games at E3 this year are very same-y. But it also seems that people are hungry for new experiences.

MF: It's like, show me your new idea and I'll tell you whether it's either going to fail because it's never been done before, or it's going to fail because everyone is doing that already, right? And that's the trap that you fall in, but the fact of the matter is, a game isn't great just because it's original, or because it follows something traditional.

It's great because it's great in its own right, and I think you've seen great games that follow in classic gameplay mechanics. There are some fantastic shooters that we've already seen, and there are breakthrough new games that you're seeing as well. So I think it's a trap just to look at something just in terms of that.

There's been a lot of speculation and sort of you know about where we are in the PS360 generation. How do you feel about where we are, and how much time we have left, and what we can accomplish in this generation?

MF: Well, at the end of the day, I think it's really more for the gamers to say than it is for the publishers or even the console owners. I think with the introduction of Wii U, you're also starting to see asynchronous platform introductions. It used to be almost like there was a starting signal, and everyone was like a year on one side or another, and it was like pushing the restart button again, and again, and again.

And with Nintendo coming out the way that they are, and the timing that they are, I think it creates a unique opportunity. So it's not like all the bets are double or nothing all at once, and I think you can have an interesting point, I think, where you're starting to see somewhat more staggered releases.

Now I say that with no knowledge of what the other platform makers are doing. I'm speculating. I think you're also starting to see that other platform -- you know, the PC and browser -- becoming a much more significant factor in games than you ever have before.


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