It has only been about two months or so since Square Enix shed its Western studios in the form of Square Enix Montréal, Eidos Montréal, and Crystal Dynamics to the growing Embracer Group. The prevailing sentiments were that the larger strategy at play was Square Enix preparing itself for acquisition by the likes of Sony, and that sentiment has since been echoed by Eidos Montréal founder Stephane D’Astous.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, D’Astous painted a less than ideal picture of the state of the studios under Square Enix in the west.
“It’s a train that is slowing down and needs some injection of energy or money or something, but the train is slowing down. And it’s unfortunate because there are a lot of good people in those studios. If I read between the lines, Square Enix Japan was not as committed as we hoped initially,” he said.
“And there are rumours, obviously, that with all these activities of mergers and acquisitions, that Sony would really like to have Square Enix within their wheelhouse. I heard rumours that Sony said they’re really interested in Square Enix Tokyo, but not the rest. So, I think Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda-san put it like a garage sale.”
The garage sale was in reference to the widely recognised low price of just US$300 million for the three studios and a stable of strong IPs including Tomb Raider, Legacy of Kain, Deus Ex, and Thief.
Compared to the Embracer Group’s buyout of Gearbox, which was completed for about US$1.378 billion, the difference is vast and seemingly reflective of the state of things.
“Gearbox has about 1,000 staff. Eidos has about 1,000. They have basically Borderlands and others, and Eidos has five times the IPs. So why four times less? I guess there weren’t a lot of key people interested. And it shows the health of the value of the potential of Eidos, unfortunately,” D’Astous concluded.
At this point, it still remains unclear whether Sony is really looking at Square Enix as a potential addition. What we do know from our talk with Sony Interactive Entertainment President & CEO Jim Ryan was that the gaming giant is still always looking, so there’s always a chance. If the deal does materialise, it will give the PlayStation ecosystem a shot in the arm when it comes to JRPGs, especially with so many Final Fantasy games still on the horizon.