Square Enix Company, Limited (株式会社スクウェア･エニックス, Kabushiki Gaisha Sukuwea Enikkusu) is a Japanese video game and publishing company, publishing Star Ocean, best known for its console role-playing game franchises, which include the Final Fantasy series, the Dragon Quest series, which was published as Dragon Warrior in North America from 1989 until 2005, and the Kingdom Hearts series. Square Enix was formed as the result of a merger between rivals 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. Despite this, many top officials within Square assumed leadership roles in the new corporate hierarchy, including Square president Yōichi Wada, who was appointed president of the new corporation. Square Enix is also one of the major pop culture icons in Japan.
Square Enix has regional operations, including Square Enix, Inc. (for all of North America) and Square Enix Ltd. (for Europe and other areas that use the PAL-television standard). In July 2003, Square Enix relocated its headquarters to Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo. In March 2004, Square Enix acquired UIEvolution, Inc. in order to strengthen its wireless market. On August 22, 2005, Square Enix announced its acquisition of the amusement gaming developer and publisher, Taito Corporation, renowned for their arcade hits, Space Invaders and the Bubble Bobble series. By September 28, 2005, Square Enix had wholly acquired Taito. In January 2005, the company expanded operations to Beijing, People's Republic of China by establishing Square Enix (China) Co., Ltd as a wholly owned subsidiary. The company also has a controlling interest in Community Network Software Engine of Beijing, China which focuses on network middle-ware for gaming. On 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. By September 4, 2008 Square Enix had withdrew their offer after Tecmo rejected the proposed takeover.
As of 2008 Square Enix's headquarters are in the Shinjuku Bunka Quint Building in Shibuya, Tokyo. Its North American offices are on the third floor of 999 North Sepulveda Boulevard in El Segundo, California, United States. Its Europe offices are on the second floor of the Castle House in Borough of Islington in London, United Kingdom. Its China offices are in Room 610 of Golder Plaza, No. 10 in Haidian District, Beijing, People's Republic of China.
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, while Yasumi Matsuno left in August 2005 for speculated reasons.
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.
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 second most popular game series in Japan after Pokémon, and new installments regularly outsell other games at the times of their release. Of the 43 million units of games in the series sold so far, about 39 million have been from Japan. 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 its major titles exclusively for any console in the seventh generation, 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. 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 Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, and France. 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.
On July 8, 2008, Square Enix released their first game for the iPod, Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes.
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.
The company has made two forays into the film industry. The first, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (1998), 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 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 (from Enix) called Gangan Comics. It publishes manga for the Japanese market only. Titles published by Gangan Comics include Black God, Papuwa, Pani Poni, Spiral, He is My Master, Sekirei, Bamboo Blade, Soul Eater,Zombie Loan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Also contains manga adaptations of diverse Square Enix games, like Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts and Star Ocean. Some of these titles were also 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.
- 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 has since been assigned a rating of "B".