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FF13

5 of the best Square Enix and Sony franchises

By now you’ll no doubt have heard the news that, in an effort to lift its profits and minimise loss, Sony Computer Entertainment has sold off its shares in game publisher Square Enix, producers of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts among many others. The 9,52 million shares (approximately 8.2% of Square’s shares, making them one of the company’s largest shareholders) amount to somewhere in the region of US$46.9-million.

Pippa Tshabalala
Pippa Tshabalala is the former presenter of The Verge, South Africa's first locally produced TV show on videogames. She has a passion for all things gaming and... More

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What many don’t realise is that Square Enix Holdings isn’t just a developer and publisher in its own right, but is also the holding company for a number of other well-known subsidiaries, such as Eidos Interactive (Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex), Square Enix Europe (Final Fantasy, Sleeping Dogs as well as a role in the aforementioned Eidos games), and Taito.

Sony is therefore getting rid of a massive shareholding in a company that has interests in multiple award-winning franchises. Whether or not this is a good move remains to be seen, however in the meantime we’re going to take a quick trip down memory lane as we look at some of the best games that have come out of Square Enix in recent years, and while we hopefully won’t see a downturn in quality or quantity from them, Sony might be kicking themselves in the near future.

Final Fantasy

First up, a franchise that was both developed and published by Square Enix – it’s essentially the game for which they are most well known – Final Fantasy.

Although the game has gone through many iterations on a variety of platforms, and some have been better received than others, overall the game has a large core group of fans and the series has done exceptionally well, always notable for its characters and its musical score.

Final Fantasy XIII, released in 2010 on PS3 and Xbox (2009 in Japan), received outstandingly positive reviews, with the sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2 receiving also mostly positive reviews. Final Fantasy XIV, released on PC in 2010 received abysmal reviews in comparison. In 2013 however, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, a remake of the original game on PS3 (PS4 in 2014) and Windows, and the reviews have by contrast been positive and notably different to the original release of the game.

Tomb Raider

Although the developer is Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix are the publisher responsible for the latest reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise (2013) – you know, the game that basically got people interested in Lara Croft again.

This latest version of the game emphasises the origins of the protagonist of the series, Lara Croft. It traces her origins as a newcomer to the archaeology field, before she became the legend that we know from the other games, revealing her as vulnerable and unsure of herself as she starts along the path towards strong character development.

The gameplay, story and graphics are all excellent and this was a masterful stroke in reinventing the franchise and rekindling the love for Lara Croft.

Deus Ex

Although Deus Ex is part of a long-standing, classic franchise, a new game was released in 2011 with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. The cyberpunk-themed franchise has garnered many loyal supporters over the years, and Human Revolution was no exception.

It was developed as a prequel to the original game, set in 2027, 25 years before Deus Ex. The protagonist Adam Jensen, is required to undergo extensive surgery after a terrorist attack, that essentially turns him into a cyborg.

Not the trailer but a-bloody-mazing regardless
The game deals with themes of espionage, human enhancement through technology and the divide between those who can afford it and those who can’t. It received excellent reviews, and many critics praised the inclusion of social interaction on the outcome of in-game events.

Hitman

Hitman: Absolution, developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix, is the fifth in the Hitman franchise and was released in 2012. It follows Agent 47 once again as his handler goes rogue and 47 is caught up in the mess of a sabotage attempt that could expose the entire agency.

Much like the usual games, it’s a stealth based escapade, requiring you to infiltrate a variety of locations and assassinate targets without being caught. Although some of the gameplay mechanic has been altered from previous (more successful) Hitman games, in essence the principle remains the same. Although the game received mixed reviews, overall it was considered quite successful albeit not quite up to the standard of some of the previous Hitman games.

Plans for a sixth game in the series (possibly entitled Hitman: Profession), is currently under development by IO Interactive.

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs, developed by United Front Games and Square ENix London, and published by Square Enix, is a 2012 action adventure game in much the same vein as Grand Theft Auto. It began development as True Crime 3: Hong Kong, before being cancelled by Activision Blizzard and bought by Square Enix, with no connection to the True Crime series.

These fan films are incredible
The main character is Detective Wei Shin, an officer working undercover in a Triad gang in Hong Kong. He needs to gather information on Triad gang Sun On Yee (based on the real life gang Sun Yee On) and take them down.

Sleeping Dogs was in fact a sleeper hit of sorts. On release it received rave reviews and it was undoubtedly the surprise release of the year. In October 2013, it was confirmed that a sequel to the game is in development, also published by Square Enix.

Where to from here? With titles like these it certainly doesn’t look as if Square Enix is going anywhere, and although Sony was their third largest shareholder, the shares have been sold to global financial company SMBC Nikko Securities.

Sony has been trying to increasingly streamline their assets, and although the profit from their sale will be almost $47 million, it’s only a small dent in their estimated losses from 2013 of US$1.1 billion.

Luckily it’s unlikely that Square Enix will move away from the PlayStation brand any time soon, despite Sony’s withdrawal as a shareholder, so you’ll still have awesome franchises such as these to look forward to in the near future.

Image via GameWallpapers


  • Goodgrief

    I’m sorry but, WHAT???? Did you actually research this before writing this article? How is sony going to miss anything? Are you saying that because they sold the shares that SE will all of a sudden not make those games for the PS brand? What exactly is this article trying to say? Please clarify because at this point this article makes absolutely no sense.

  • I can write better in my sleep

    soooooo much dumb on one page. Are you sure you are not the idiot Patrica from Bukaku?

  • Sam Fury

    LOL I cant believe that someone thinks that selling shares of a company actually means Square Enix WONT be making games for a Sony platform. Do you know how much Square Enix NEEDs Sony? The only reason SE is not in the Red right now is because of stronger sales on a Sony platform and FFXIV which they thought profitable enough to come to the PS4. SE leaving Sony… that aint happening… this isnt 1996.

  • PSIN4MANT

    I’m not sure you understand how Shares in a company work… O_o

  • Zarathos No Daimaōh

    A brand new level of stupid right there . So sony selling shares means they are losing games ? How do you explain then , by that same (lack of ) logic , Square games being multiplatform , when Sony actually owned shares of the company ? You even acknowledge it’s not happening in the end … wich confirms you are just fishing for hits and a lousy author

  • Kamille

    sony only had 8%, that’s the same as having nothing anyway. They didn’t have any say on their decisions about absolutely anything. Not to mention that the profits they would get from 8% were next to nothing to a company like sony that is like 20 times bigger than square.

  • Pippa Tshabalala

    Actually I wasn’t saying they would stop making games for the PS at all, I think you’ve misunderstood, or perhaps I wasn’t very clear in that regard, in which case that’s my fault. Seriously no sarcasm intended.

    I was saying it’s a pity because now Sony will lose out on a shareholding of a number of very successful franchises, whether their shareholding was only 8% or not, they were still the company’s third biggest shareholder.

    In fact the point of the article was stated right up front “we’re going to take a quick trip down memory lane as we look at some of
    the best games that have come out of Square Enix in recent years.”

  • andy

    Or not since news like this broke and its something that alot of people working with Square Enix have known for a LONG time http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-07-24-ex-eidos-montreal-founder-says-square-enix-has-some-things-to-learn-about-how-to-sell-their-games

    Square Enix are one of THE worst game publishers for communication. You think that it is only retailers and buyers that have to deal with their incompetence? The actual developer studios that work for them have the exact same communication issues. Even Focus Interactive beats Square Enix for overall communication in Europe. Sony did the right thing as Square are only going to hurt themselves more over the next 10 years.

  • Pippa Tshabalala

    That’s a fair point, and I did also comment that it remains to be seen if Sony’s move was a good one or not. It might well have been, and considering they’re trying to recuperate from a substantial financial loss, the selling of shares does indeed make sense. This was more an article on Square’s franchises as opposed to Sony although I think the title might have been misleading for many people.

    It will be interesting to watch it unfold nonetheless :)

  • Pippa Tshabalala

    I have commented extensively on another comment above as well, but just to reiterate, I wasn’t saying they would stop making games for the PS at all, perhaps I wasn’t very clear in that regard.

    In fact the point of the article was stated right up front “we’re going to take a quick trip down memory lane as we look at some of the best games that have come out of Square Enix in recent years.”

    This was more an article about Square franchises than it was about Sony.

  • Pippa Tshabalala

    I have commented extensively on another comment above as well, but just to reiterate, I wasn’t saying they would stop making games for the PS at all, perhaps I wasn’t very clear in that regard. Feel free to read my other comments as well however so I’m not just cutting and pasting.

  • Realist

    OMG This is why Gaming Journalism isn’t taken seriously and never will be. The author is so ignorant it ain’t even funny.

  • Goodgrief

    Fair enough, I have a clearer understanding of what you meant now. To be honest that really wasn’t communicated properly in your piece however I respect your opinion and it is food for thought even though I may not totally agree with it.

  • christopher

    Wow. You people yammering on about weather or not this article even implies( which it does not) that square would stop making games for Sony because Sony dumped its shares are so stupid. Read the entire thread before you comment. Bloody stupid.