Back in May, Japanese publisher Square Enix announced the sale of a number of Western studios it has owned since 2009.including Eidos Montreal (god out) and Crystal Dynamics (tomb Raider). For Stéphane D’Astout, who founded Eidos Montreal and left the company in 2013, the deal marks the end of a decade-long slow-motion train crash.
In an interview with game industry, D’Astus unleashes his former bosses by blaming Square Enix’s management in both Japan and London for many of their Western studios’ problems. He specifically refers Square Enix’s relentless pursuit of astronomical sales has become so notorious among the industry (and even fans) that it’s become something of a joke.. In this case, over the course of a year, Japan was expecting a profit of $65 million when, without releasing big games in that period, they actually faced a loss of $65 million:
The pressure began to build up, and my employees in relation to me, I to the authorities. I think that when people are in a crisis situation, and there are many situations, you see their main behavior or values. And I didn’t like what I saw. There really was a lack of leadership, courage and communication. And when you don’t have these basic things, no employee can do their job right – especially when you’re running a studio.
I was already losing hope that Square Enix Japan would bring something worthwhile to Eidos. I was losing confidence in my headquarters in London. In their annual financial statements, Japan has always added one or two phrases: “We were disappointed with some of the games.” They didn’t live up to expectations.” And they did it strictly for some games that were made outside of Japan.
This doesn’t sound like a healthy working relationship! Interestingly, D’Astou adds that he believes Square Enix sold its Western studios at a low price, not only because of their performance, but also because the publisher hopes Sony will buy it:
If I’m reading between the lines, Square Enix Japan wasn’t as committed as we initially hoped. And apparently the rumor is that with all these mergers and acquisitions, Sony would really like to have Square Enix in their wheelhouse. I’ve heard rumors that Sony has said it’s really interested in Square Enix Tokyo, but not everything else. I think so [Square Enix CEO Yosuke] Matsuda-san put it like a garage sale.
D’Astou goes on to say that the relationship between Japan and its western studios “was like a train wreck in slow motion” and also talks about how “the success of superhero games hasn’t been great” (in light of the performance Avengers Marvel as well as guardians of the galaxy), so you should definitely read the full long interview on game industry more of this tea.