Something is rotten in the state of Eorzea. At the Square Enix earnings conference this week, CEO Yoichi Wada tried to articulate what exactly that something was, and how they will attempt to fix it.
First, the hard numbers. Compared with the previous year, sales at Square Enix were down 25%, operating profits were down 56%, ordinary profits were down 71%, and net income was down 36%. Sales of Final Fantasy XIV were actually the biggest positive contributer, with 630,000 copies sold (190,000 in Japan, 260,000 in North America, and 250,000 in Europe). However, FFXIV may now also prove to be the company's biggest problem.
Wada was reported to have been deluged with questions regarding the status of FFXIV and the maelstrom of negativity surrounding the game. On stage, Wada did admit that, "the customers are not satisfied with the state [of FFXIV]." Current plans include big updates in November and December, and of course, the PlayStation 3 release coming next March. While other details were not to be divulged at the time, Wada stated, "We must put our full effort into regaining the user's trust."
However, the CEO was not let off easily. Attendees continued to bring down tough questions and harsh criticisms. When asked about user numbers, Wada dodged by saying he could not predict how things will change once FFXIV ends the free trial period and institutes the monthly fee. Another attendee asked, "Do you test your games to make sure they're complete?" to which Wada admitted, "There may be some areas of testing that were lacking or too rigid," before quickly bringing it back to, "In the short term, we're working hard on restoring user trust."
In the end, Wada admits that there were many things the company missed, including not only bugs, but difficult controls and other issues. While FFXIV will not prove an immediate success (both in terms of customer satisfaction and profit), Wada is looking to next Spring as being the rebirth of the beleaguered title. The plan is to focus on the quality of the gaming experience and the happiness of the players and have a solid title ready for the PS3 launch.
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