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INTERVIEW: Square Enix

Ben Parfitt
INTERVIEW: Square Enix

You’re positioning Final Fantasy XIII as this quarter’s biggest game launch. But isn’t this series typically targeted at hardcore gamers?

The success of the Final Fantasy series has been built upon delivering great games to an ever-growing global consumer base who have become very dedicated to the franchise.

With Final Fantasy XIII not only does this continue, but through the build up activities over the last 18 months it has allowed us to connect to consumers who were previously not Final Fantasy fans, hence broadening the franchise’s appeal. 

The biggest game launch of the quarter... well I’ll let you be the judge of that, but we do know that Final Fantasy XIII will be successful.
 
How is FFXIII being tailored to a bigger audience?

Outreach is key and from the get go we set out to make this an event rather than just another video game release. Witness the street date announcement campaign for example, over one million consumers, gamers and non-gamers connected to the experience within the first three days. They can see and feel something special is about to happen on Tuesday, March 9th.
 
How is Leona Lewis’ involvement set to benefit the game’s launch?

Leona Lewis has become a star in such a short space of time and her appeal to the ‘now generation’, plus her stylish classy music, provided a great opportunity to collaborate on Final Fantasy XIII. It has allowed us to reach out and touch consumers who may never have heard of the franchise, which can only be a great thing.
 
Traditionally, every big Final Fantasy campaign takes full advantage of the game’s visuals. Is that set to continue this time around?

The visual experience is one of the main benchmarks that has set the Final Fantasy series apart from other games out there. It continues with Final Fantasy XIII, but let the media and consumers be the judge. Just read what Edge magazine has quoted and you can't get much better than that: ‘Final Fantasy XIII is, put simply, the best-looking game on PlayStation 3 yet.’
 
The Final Fantasy series has many different strands, sequels, spin-off games and so forth. What sort of challenges does this present Square Enix when it comes to marketing?

Successful entertainment brands can be multi-layered as a result of its own popularity. Careful management of the brand must remain at the heart and soul of its success and with the Final Fantasy franchise we have done just that. 

Each brand extension requires clear messaging – targeting each consumer audience is critical. Get this right and the positive results are there to enjoy for everyone. It’s a marketing challenge, but also a marketing dream.

How do you translate the success of a big Japanese title, like Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts, to the UK market?

It’s not just a challenge for the UK; it is the whole Western market and translating the original success around the globe.

First and foremost it has to be a great game; the rest is down to communication and building the consumers interest in the brand. You can make it complicated but there is no need. Careful implementation of your strategy is fundamental to it all.
 
How popular is Kingdom Hearts in the UK currently? And what are your ambitions for the series over here?

The Kingdom Hearts brand is massive in Europe as a whole. It is such a wonderful and unique collaboration between Square Enix and Disney. It not only reaches out to the Disney consumers but reaches to the heart of the gamers as well. We will continue to grow the Kingdom Hearts brand through future releases.
 
Square Enix is one of just a few publishers that have enjoyed big sales on PSP. What’s the secret behind this success and what are your thoughts on the PSP market at the moment?

The PSP is a great portable device, for both disk-based and digital content. We continue to support this platform and work within the market conditions to ensure our software releases are successful.

Crisis Core and Dissidia Final Fantasy have been successful releases and we intend to continue this pattern with Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. The brand, the quality of each game and careful release timing, have all contributed to previous successful releases on the platform.

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