What On Earth Is Going On With Square Enix?

Nintendo Life Square Enix Visual
Image: Nintendo Life

If you take even a quick glance at a release schedule for the next six months, you’ll see that there are a heck of a lot of games coming out. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll spot that maybe 50 of them are from Square Enix. And that’s just on the Switch!

We’re exaggerating, of course, but it’s hard to ignore the company’s absolutely massive output over the next few months — and for the whole of 2022, really. We’re not going to list every single 2022 Square Enix Switch release here because that would take up a lot of space (though you can check all of its games out right here, or scroll to the bottom of this article). However, from September until next year Square Enix is developing and/or publishing 13 games on Switch alone. Phew! And of course, we’re including PowerWash Simulator in that.

Look, we’re not complaining — it’s actually kind of amazing to see Square Enix put out this many titles, and it feels like we’re in another golden age with Square and Nintendo, just like the NES and SNES days. But with the September Nintendo Direct, our jaws couldn’t help but drop with every new Square Enix announcement.

We got release dates for two titles, a demo for another, and two brand new reveals in Theatrhythm Final Bar Line and Octopath Traveler II for February 2023. On other platforms, Square Enix also has Final Fantasy XVI coming out next summer. On top of everything else! How has this come to pass?

Well, we said developing and publishing, and Square Enix isn’t just one big studio either. Next year’s headline Final Fantasy title is, for example, being developed by Creative Business Unit III — the team behind the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. And it’s the same for the Switch’s many upcoming titles.

There are multiple development teams within Square Enix who are each working on a small slate of different titles. Octopath Traveler II is being developed by Acquire, creators of the Tenchu series, in collaboration with Square Enix Business Division, with Bravely Default producer Tomoya Asano returning to head up the project. Fans often dub these games — the Bravely series, and the HD-2D games — the works of Team Asano. Various Daylife also falls into this category, though the recently released Switch port in fact originated on Apple Arcade and was developed by DokiDoki Groove Works.

You’ve also got a slate of ports or remasters coming to the console, such as NieR: Automata — which was developed by PlatinumGames and is being ported by Virtuos — and Yasumi Matsuno is returning to supervise Tactics Ogre: Reborn. Then there’s the delayed Life is Strange collection, which Square Enix is publishing.

Lots of studios, both internally and externally, help develop or bring Square Enix titles to the Switch, too. Indieszero is back to work on the new Theatrhythm game, and The DioField Chronicle’s real-time strategy is coming from Lancarse, the team behind Zanki Zero: Last Beginning and Monark.

Of course, despite a large chunk of them being RPGs or RPG-adjacent, they’re all pretty different from one another. People who pick up Harvestella won’t necessarily be the same crowd who want Octopath Traveler II, and The DioField Chronicle is different enough from Tactics Ogre — which also has nostalgia on its side — to stand out. And even if you love your Final Fantasy music, Theatrhythm might not be for you!*

All of these releases follow a statement made by the company recently, which suggests Square will be looking to sell stakes in some of its remaining studios following a Q1 FY2023 drop in profits. The Japanese-based developer has also sold off a large number of its Western studios to Embracer Group, with the deal finalising back in August.

So, the company has got a little bit more money to play with. But the truth is that a lot of these upcoming projects have probably been in development for a while — July’s Live A Live remake took three years to develop, for example.

Much to many fans’ chagrin, Square Enix has also jumped into the world of NFTs, releasing Final Fantasy-based ones, as well as joining a blockchain — all eco-friendly, apparently. The company president Yosuke Matsuda hasn’t been shy about admitting his interest in NFTs, and many of the company’s profits have been invested in these. So perhaps Square Enix is trying to hide this from us gamers by throwing dozens of games at us, right?

Probably not, but while the company doesn’t seem to understand consumers on one hand, with the other it’s been pumping out demos for a lot of its releases. As far back as Dragon Quest XI S and the first Octopath Traveler, right up to Harvestella and the PlayStation console-exclusive Valkyrie Elysium, these demos work hugely in Square’s favour, enabling people to try out the game before they buy it. Not only that, these demos allow us to transfer our save file over to the full release, which means when we decide to buy the full game, we’ve shaved off a few hours of playtime ahead of schedule. Result!

Square Enix won’t be slowing down anytime soon, we’re sure. There are a few projects we haven’t heard from in a while and a couple of Japan-only releases like the visual novel Elements with Emotions, but us? We’ll be feasting for a while. Triangle Strategy and Live A Live are two of the best games released on the Switch this year, and there are some top-quality titles on the horizon (well, we hope). We’re just feeling a little bit overwhelmed amidst a hugely busy slate in the latter months of 2022, especially for RPG fans.

But this isn’t all about us! Vote in our polls below and let us know what you think of Square Enix’s output at the moment. Is it a Blizzaga-style flurry of overwhelming proportions? Or are you as cheerful as a Chocobo seeing all of these games come out? Oh, and don’t forget to tell us what you think in the comments, too.

*This is factually incorrect, as Theatrhythm is for absolutely everyone. Play it, now.

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