Square Enix’s fortunes have been grim in recent years, and it’s been hard for me to watch. The critical (and pretty much universal) flop of the original Final Fantasy XIV back in 2010 is just one example of where the bad news began, and for a time the company seemed to commit blunder after cringe-inducing, nostalgia-erasing blunder. Even well received 2013 titles like Tomb Raider failed to meet sales targets. It seems fitting, then, that the game to turn the the whole mess around is none other than the aboriginal mistake, Final Fantasy XIV itself.
The rebranded MMO has been a hit for Square since its re-launch earlier this year, and we now have the numbers to prove it. According to just-released financial reports for the nine month period ending in December, net income was boosted by more than 10bn yen, moving from a loss of 5.7bn in 2012 to a profit of 5.2bn yen in 2013. The company has also seen a shift to an operating profit of over 7bn yen, up from a loss of 4.9bn yen last year.
These are fantastic number to be able to present, and Square was anything but hesitant to attribute the turnaround to Final Fantasy XIV‘s success since its re-launch.
During the nine-month period ended December 31, 2013, revenues from distribution of console game titles in North America were strong. Software sales and operation of ‘Final Fantasy XIV:A Realm Reborn,’ a massively multiplayer online role playing game released in August 2013, have been making favourable progress.
Given that the game has already racked up 1.5 million paid and registered accounts, with more on the way when the game launches on PS4 in April, Square’s excitement at having a reasonably dependable cash cow on hand is decidedly apparent. Even so, it seems that other areas of the company’s business have seen substantial improvements as well.
Content for platforms such as smart devices and PC browser has continued to build upon its already solid growth. Among other titles, ‘Sengoku Ixa,’ a PC browser game, has been showing steady performance, and ‘Kaku-San-Sei Million Arthur,’ a game for smartphones, has become an instant hit in Taiwan and mainland China, following Korea, while its platform has expanded to include the PlayStation Vita.
Square has a number of 2014 heavy hitters in the works, including Thief at the end of February and the ludicrously-hyped Kingdom Hearts III, with a release date yet to be announced. If the company can keep inertia on its side and the cash flowing, then a true return to form may finally be in the cards.