Square Wants 400,000 Online Gamers

Square Wants 400,000 Online Gamers

In line with recent developments and announcements from the console world, SquareSoft announced ambitious plans aimed at expanding their online gaming presence. In a common sense move the company have decided to focus on their biggest money earner, the online gaming subscriptions, in order to lead the company into economic recovery.

According to President Yoichi Wada, the launch, in May, of Final Fantasy XI, an online version of the popular role-playing game which has sold in excess of 38 million copies worldwide, has seen the total number of users paying a monthly fee of 1,280 yen (USD10.71) reach 120,000.
We hope to raise the number of users to 400,000 by the end of next (business) year, which would make the online game service another key profit generator besides our package game business, he added.
In order to meet such high targets, Square plan to release a PC version of the game in autumn or winter and an advanced version by the end of next March, while plans include a North American launch next year.

We need around 200,000 users to break even in the online game business, which we said in May we aim to do in 2002/03 he concluded.

Many analysts however, see the targets set by Square as too optimistic. The online version of the game is not expected to meet this years sales targets since it was troubled by a slow initial uptake and server glitches in May. The service is expected to post a one billion yen loss this year, but is seen likely to reach 200,000-300,000 users as broadband connectivity advances.

But there are deeper reasons behind the turn towards online gaming in Japan. The country is faced with a declining birth-rate meaning that less new gamers become available every year. In turn this means that companies have to look into other ways of increasing their profits i.e. online gaming subscriptions.

As more and more companies begin releasing online titles for the PS2 it is hoped that owners will lean towards purchasing the expensive broadband package, 18,000 yen, which includes a hard disk drive and network adapter.

Square Continues with Nintendo

Square's President Yoichi Wada, also broke the news of plans to develop one GameCube title and two GameBoy Advance games, by the end of March 2003.
The new GameCube game will have some kind of link with Game Boy Advance and we hope it will become a million-seller, said Wada, who claims he expects the game's sales would boost earnings estimates.

The decision by Square to begin releasing Final Fantasy titles for the GameCube was the first step towards renewing the Nintendo-Square co-operation. It has been a few years since Square abandoned Nintendo for Sony, helping the PS2 console overtake Nintendo's N64 machine.

For the time being Sony have not reacted yet to the news, even though they do own 18.6 percent of Square. It just goes to show that in desperate times, desperate measures are needed.