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Persistent online experiences: The future of Square Enix?

3:00 PM on 08.23.2013

Jordan Devore

Managing Editor

Strategy 'wouldn't apply to every game'

Industry change is the topic of a candid Gamasutra blog post by Darrell Gallagher, the former Crystal Dynamics studio head and current head of studios at Square Enix. "Overall as a games business -- studios and publishing -- we have walked away too early from some of the worlds that we have invested so much time and energy in," he wrote. "If we were to ask people that loved our games whether they would enjoy new content or deeper experiences in these digital playgrounds the answer would overwhelmingly be 'yes.'"

Gallagher cites two specific examples: Just Cause 2 and Sleeping Dogs. Both titles continue to attract over half a million players per month despite their age. The latter, he says, has gone on to become profitable. Square Enix wants to capitalize on this knowledge.

"We see the opportunity for some of our games continuing beyond a traditional beginning, middle, and end," continued Gallagher. "We can have them become extendable and more persistent -- with an opportunity to build and grow across games. To design in a way to keep our games alive for years instead of weeks.

"I'm not talking about an MMORPG -- although the concept is similar -- I'm talking about creating persistent online experiences built on the foundations of the games we are well known for. Now, this doesn't apply to every game, there is no one solution that works in every case, but as a wider goal it's certainly something which some of our franchises are incredibly well suited to and something I want to explore further."

Much of what he's saying here sounds reasonable, but, so much of this grand vision for games as services is going to come down to the execution. And that has me feeling skeptical. As for Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light selling one million copies, and Tomb Raider clearing four million copies sold? That's great to hear. I'm only concerned because I care.

How do you tackle industry change? [Gamasutra]

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