As a publisher, Square Enix has become one of my favourites, publishing a number of genuinely great games from the Western studios it acquired; studios like Eidos. Eidos Montreal – behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution – has just lost its founder Stephane D’Astous, citing “irreconcilable differences “ with Square Enix.
Square Enix has had some pretty big games of late; Sleeping Dogs, Hitman Absolution and Tomb Raider – but has failed to capitalise on them and has had a bad financial year.
Speaking to Polygon, D’Astous outlined what he feels are the reasons Square just isn’t doing as well as it rightly should – and it’s got nothing to do with the quality of games. Instead, he feels Square just doesn’t know how to sell games.
"We brought three triple As to the market, and despite that great line up and those great critical reviews we still managed not to respect our financial goals, so that really shook up a lot of people," he said. "When the fiscal results came out official we were all surprised."
“We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more,” he said. “They need to attack that very, very seriously. Last year was supposed to be a home-run season, but we didn’t hit a single home run; maybe a double or a triple, but they weren’t home runs.” The publisher “has some things to learn about how to sell their games”, he said.
“They have great, great franchises. In my book content is king,” he said. “I’m quite confident in the developer side of things.”
As for why he left? He says there’s just little to no communication from upper management – and the top-down approach just wasn’t working for him.
“It took a lot of time before some information came out from HQ. It was unfortunate that the senior staff of the studios didn’t really participate in the new strategic plan,” he said.
“My management style is to have your major players participate in building a new strategic plan. But that wasn’t the case and it was then very hard to have the buy-in of the plan that landed on our desks. It wasn’t the way I would have worked.
“Communication is very lacking,” he added.
It really is a pity – and I think that Eidos Montreal, now busy with the next game in the Thief series, will be worse without him.
Last Updated: July 24, 2013