Many who have been following the developments of Square Enix over the last few years have most likely complained at one point about their belief that the company has lost its way and changed its focus too drastically in an attempt to appeal to their perception of what western gamers want, but this approach has had more of a negative impact than hoped – sales have suffered, which could be in part due to the fans of Square Enix’s various franchises not liking the new directions their favourite games are taking and for those fans it might be time to rejoice – and it’s all thanks to four heroes of light.
Bravely Default was released for the Nintendo 3DS in Europe last December and in North America last month following over a year of fan campaigning. While sales have been modest in Europe, critical reception was high and the game saw both critical and commercial success in North America, becoming Nintendo of America’s second highest selling SKU of February and selling over 200,000 copies since release. Originally, the series’ producer Tomoya Asano stated that the game was designed specifically with the Japanese market in mind and that localisation wasn’t even considered at first, but Square Enix have noted the huge international success of the game to the extent where it has sparked a major rethink for the company.
In an interview with the Nikkei Trendy, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda acknowledged that games developed with an international mindset ended up “being games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience” and that the increasing number of networks spread across the world has meant that information announced in one reason is quickly spread across the globe and that “fans of JRPGs are really spread around the world“.
Matsuda stated that moving forward, the company has been talking about developing future games as “heavy JRPGs”, as that the global connection between fans creates a “sense of mass, which loses the image of a niche market.” because “If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for“.
Bravely Default is currently available as both a retail and digital title in North America and Europe, with a demo of the game available for free from the Nintendo eShop in both regions.