A reader examines the recent rumours and explanations for Square Enix’s sale of Tomb Raider and hopes that Sony is buying them after all.
Like many people, I’ve been watching the news about Warner Bros. this week in disbelief. Their decision to can the almost complete Batgirl, remove films from their streaming service, and completely change their approach to DC Comics has been heavily criticised by everyone and resulted in their stock price tanking. I don’t know what’s going to happen to them eventually, but it all seems such an unnecessary, self-inflicted wound that it couldn’t help but remind me of video games.
Specifically, it reminded me of Square Enix, who’s bizarre decision to sell almost their entire Western business for what, on a corporate scale, is pocket change seems not only crazy but completely inexplicable. They had to offer some kind of explanation to investors though and came up with the idea that it was because they were worried about the games cannibalising each other’s sales, which is so nonsensical I can only assume it was a translation error… or the worst excuse since the classic tale of your dog eating your homework.
Digging through the rumours and theories you come to the much more reasonable explanation that the two developers were overly expensive to run and that the management didn’t get on with Square Enix HQ in Japan. Combine that with so-so sales for the last few games and it begins to make some sort of sense.
Why they didn’t just get rid of whatever managers were causing a problem, and maybe form new teams with the same developers, I don’t know. In the end they virtually gave them away and I’m sure there must’ve been something more constructive they could’ve done. I guess they just got fed up of it all though and wanted out.
There’s also the suggestion that they wanted to sell off their unprofitable studios in order to make themselves more desirable to Sony. That make sense to a degree but surely Sony would’ve been interested in Tomb Raider? Not least because they have a film division and Lara Croft used to basically be their mascot. But no.
If Sony were interested in buying Tomb Raider I’m sure they could’ve outbid the $300 million it went for, they could’ve even sold off the developers and everything else afterwards to recoup most of the money. But they didn’t.
So they must want Square Enix just for their role-playing games? As a way to fill in for the fact that they shut down their own Japanese studios and now are a Japanese company that doesn’t make any games in its home country. Except… they haven’t bought Square Enix. We saw with Microsoft and Activision Blizzard that these deals can be done very quickly, and presumably Square Enix and Sony have been talking a long while about this.
It hasn’t happened though, which may mean Sony backed out or the whole thing was never going to happen anyway. Personally though, and despite all the nonsense of the last few months, I hope it happens. Sony desperately needs an anchor in Japan and there is none bigger than Square Enix, whatever you think of their games.
Square Enix also needs some sensible leadership, as for years they’ve seemed rudderless and if it wasn’t for them having enough hits to get by with I think they could easily have gone under at some point in the last decade. Becoming more focused, with technical back-up from Sony, would be great from them and it would also keep Microsoft’s hands off them.
Some may not see this as a positive but I’m very dubious about Microsoft’s ability to manage the studios it already owns, let alone a massive one in Japan, with which it has absolutely nothing in common. In an ideal world all companies would be separate but if Square Enix has to be owned by someone, I hope its Sony.
I just have no idea if it’ll actually happen.
By reader Dolsam
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