Square Enix CEO: GaaS for Us Means Much More Than Microtransactions; People Are Too Focused on the Problems
We've often talked about the growing importance of the GaaS (Games as a Service) business model in the games industry. Some companies such as Ubisoft already managed to dive into it with several games, while others like Take-Two have announced that all of their future titles will be developed with recurrent consumer spending in mind.
Even Square Enix, a developer traditionally focused on single player games, spoke in May 2017 about GaaS becoming the mainstream business model through the words of CEO Yosuke Matsuda.
Titles that have become global hits recently have tended to be offered via the “Games as a Service” model, and we believe this is going to be the mainstream model for gaming in the future. In developing future titles, we will approach game design with a mind to generate recurring revenue streams.
This put a grimace on long time Square Enix fans. However, Matsuda has now clarified the meaning of GaaS for Square Enix and how it will influence the company's projects in an interview appeared on the latest EDGE magazine (March 2018, issue 316).
I think a lot of the time, when people hear the phrase “games as a service”, they always focus on the problem of microtransactions – they really close out the meaning to just being that. We look at it in a much broader sense. If you look at the idea of adding things to a game after release to keep it fresh and exciting, to keep people playing over a long time, and all the different ways you can do that, it comes to express a lot more. People are too focused on the problems.
It is understandable that customers would focus on predatory microtransactions after recent events such as the loot boxes fiasco, but it is definitely true that GaaS need not be a nightmare when done right. On the contrary, there's evidence that a game can substantially benefit from post-launch additions.
Later in the interview, Matsuda also revealed why Square Enix isn't going down the same road pursued by Electronic Arts with its decision to use Frostbite in all internal projects.
We have been thinking about it. The downside of that is that if we had one unified development platform, it would make it a lot harder to express the different characters, the different proclivities of our titles - we make a very broad range of games, and it might affect the variation we can get in there. I think a much better way of improving the efficiency of our development that is more fitting to the way we work is, rather than unifying everything on the same platform, to take all the different approaches the individual studios use and are very familiar with, and have them exchange information about the tools and methods they use. In that process of unification, consolidation there is obviously the trade-off in terms of individuality, and I would rather value that than the efficiency gains to be had from consolidation.
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