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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 4 of 4

Is that why you decided to dive into Wakfu?

MF: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, and another nice thing about it is it is, it takes some of the strengths that we have, in terms of knowledge of our audience and the RPG world, but it's also helping us leverage it into a whole new place, and with a partner that is very well entrenched there already. So that's the type of one plus one equals three synergy that I'm looking for in the projects that we either pick up or we drive.

Is that a free-to-play game, or is it a subscription game?

MF: It's kind of a hybrid free-to-play. So there's a subscription component to it, but there's also a free-to-play microtransaction component of it as well.

Are microtransactions something that interest you particularly from a Square Enix perspective?

MF: It does, but I don't believe that there's going to be any one single dominant model in the years ahead. I think if there's one thing that I see now, it's a diversification, and we're a big enough company so that we can't put all of our bets all on one business model if we wanted to, anyway.

And for us, it's not about picking winners in the different platforms, it's about having great IP and fitting that to the best platform for it. We want all of the platforms to succeed.

It's funny. I remember people saying "I'm not sure if the industry can support three consoles. It's always been two consoles, two consoles, two consoles, I'm not sure if we can support three." And now, I hear people get worried that we might not have three big console platforms at one point.

So it's kind of funny. When it looks like the number of platforms is going grow, people are going to worry. If there's speculation the number of consoles might shrink, you've got everybody worried. The fact of the matter is, it's not the number of platforms that's important, it's the health of those platforms, and the growth of the market. I don't see what's happening in the browser based or free-to-play, or social market cannibalizing overall industry sales. What I see is it adding to it.


You've got now a situation where we have three consoles, two handhelds, smartphones, Facebook, web downloadable, web browser-based. There's a tremendous variety of things going on.

MF: I think that, to some degree, there's a fallacy that some people are applying to the future of our industry, based on what happened say, for example, to music. Where -- I'm not an expert on the music business -- but there's a perception that the shift towards digital music downloads has hurt the overall growth of the recording industry.

And let's just say for the sake of argument it has. I don't think that applies to games, because the switch to digital downloads for music didn't bring any more people into the listening to music market. Everybody was listening to music, everyone is still listening to music. But in the case of games, what this transition is bringing, is a whole new audience, and more ways to play.

So in the past if you had to sit down in front of your TV, now you can do it in front of your TV, your computer, your iPad in bed, your smartphone while you're outdoors, your work PC while you're in the office and your boss isn't looking. So I think the same trends that have threatened the other media are actually strengthening us.

Yeah, we're at a very tumultuous -- I would even go so far as to use that word, it might be a little melodramatic -- time in the industry. Where not only do we have trends in opportunities, like this year is the year where suddenly Android is viable. It was predictable, but I don't think people were, all the same, prepared for it. Probably because they were too busy trying to get on iPhone by the time Android started to take off.

MF: People panicked when Super Nintendo took over from NES. Our short memory is really remarkable, and I see this. Certainly this is a tumultuous time, but unlike some of the other console transitions that we've had in the past, some of the changes in our industry, this is the first time I can recall where we're talking about our audience significantly growing.

It's growing on a regional basis as more parts of the world open up to gaming, and it's opening up on a generational level basis, both as the gaming audience is growing older and gaming, and new audiences are coming in. So I mean yes, there's a tumultuousness in the sense that every change brings in new winners and losers, but I'm probably more optimistic now than I have been in my last twenty years in the games business.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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