The company behind Final Fantasy, Deus Ex and Tomb Raider has indicated to investors that it is actively investigating how to make an entry into the esports sector.
Although the term ‘esports’ itself is missing entirely from the company’s 2017 Annual Report, president Yosuke Matsuda concludes his shareholder message with the following statement:
“Gone are the days in which single-player games were of primary status and multiplayer games secondary. Lately, multiplayer games have taken the lead, and it is standard for games to be designed for long-term play. The terms ‘multiplayer’ and ‘Games as a Service’ themselves have existed for some time, but they are now being used in reference to game designs that place a strong emphasis on longer-term user engagement.
“Game play streaming has been another major trend in recent years. An increasing number of our customers around the world enjoy not only playing games themselves, but also watching other gamers play them. You do not actually need to play a game yourself to enjoy it. Watching the advanced techniques of professional gamers and the unique broadcasts of game streamers is another way to enjoy games.
“Watching gaming is growing into a major form of entertainment thanks to considerable advances in the online streaming environment. It is the presence of e-sports spectators that make this meaningful. Once the size of gaming spectatorship grows, gaming itself will gain value as a form of media. This conversion of gaming into a form of media is proceeding rapidly.
“We also have a great deal of interest in this field and intend to proactively work to turn it into an actual business.”
Square Enix has evolved its output quite significantly over the last decade or so, branching out from its traditional RPG heritage towards more Western-facing series such as Tomb Raider and Hitman.
While esports would be a bigger deviation still, as a company that has already shown an aptitude for diversification, it will be interesting to see what direction this new-found interest in streamed multiplayer gaming takes.