CEO Phil Rogers believes the industry will return to third-parties

Square Enix hopes to expand indie dev deals

Square Enix Europe will look to buck industry trends by expanding the number of third-party partnerships it deals in.

Company CEO Phil Rogers told Develop that, while many publishers have cut off third party ties, the Square Enix-owned enterprise wants to take advantage of the surplus of indie talent available.

“I actually want to say that we want to grow third party partnerships,” he said.

“I like having that balance [of indies and internal], because it delivers a healthy ecosystem of new ideas, and it’s a very important part of our strategy.”

Roger’s assurance follows successful dev deals with the likes of Rocksteady Studios (Batman Arkham Asylum) and Sweden’s Avalanche Studios (Just Cause 2).

He said added that any other publishers’ hesitance on partnering with third-party studios will only be Square Enix’s benefit:

“If [publishers] are walking away, then yes, we will be able to capitalise on that, because we want third-party relationships.”

A recent Develop investigation into declining dev budgets explored how publishers were channelling investment to internal projects – and leaving little for the external studios – as part of a wider plan to minimise risk in the wake of the financial crisis.

Electronic Arts is one of the few publishers which has spoken publicly on its reduction plan for external partnerships. The firm’s COO John Schappert recently said EA is “modelling a reduction” in its distribution business as it concentrates on higher-margin titles.

But Rogers believes that this avoidance of indies won’t last long.

“The industry has gone through a ton of changes over the years, and I do think that publishers are going to start to look at third-party developers again.”

For those indie studios that strike deals with Square Enix Europe, Rogers suggested that his firm prefer more intimate relationships.

“We essentially want our third party teams to work with us like our own internal studios,” he said.

“We currently have a new and disciplined green-light process where we bring in all the right people at the table to look at games and key milestones in areas of creativity, technology, sales and business, and all our projects go through that. So teams that are prepared to work that way, then we are going to grow with them.”

The first half of Develop’s interview with Rogers can be found here.

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