Bust out your Buster Swords, folks! Could Square-Enix be the next conquest for PlayStation in the ongoing videogame studio arms race? The last couple years have seen a sudden surge in studio acquisitions by Xbox and PlayStation that is unprecedented compared to any previous period in games history. Back in 2020 Xbox shocked the gaming world with it’s purchase of Bethesda Softworks along with all of its IP and subsidiaries. Later on PlayStation countered with the purchase of Bungie Studios, and they’ve been trading blows ever since.
Now it has come to light that there may very well be a play to purchase Square-Enix, the studio behind major gaming behemoth Final Fantasy. Two months ago Square-Enix sold off the majority of it’s western-based studios including Eidos and IP to the Embracer Group for a very lowball price of 300 million dollars. We’re talking about videogame IP like Tomb Raider, Thief, Deus Ex, and Legacy of Kain! The general reaction at the time was ‘What is SE thinking? Why are they so desperate?”. And it seems like we might have a little bit of insight into that crazy move. In an interview earlier this week with GameIndustry.biz former Eidos Montreal founder Stephane D’Astous mentioned he had heard rumors of a possible acquisition:
“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.” […] That, D’Astous suggests, may explain the $300 million price tag for three AAA studios and a host of long-running IP, including the blockbuster Tomb Raider franchise.” –per the article.
This does make sense in a way. That SE would eagerly “trim the fat” so to speak to make themselves as a more tempting acquisition to PlayStation is plausible. For much of their history the two companies have had a strong relationship. The only thing is that it was reported that SE took that $300,000,000 to invest in it’s own block-chain strategy. A strategy that has drawn a lot of ire from fans. The general consensus is that PlayStation wants nothing to do with the technology as they even made their position clear with the recently announced PlayStation collectables.
A PlayStation purchase of Square-Enix would be an interesting move but wouldn’t be the massive shakeup that Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda or Activision/Blizzard was. Square’s current heavy hitters are: Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Star Ocean, DragonQuest, and Drakengard/Nier. Almost all those games are PlayStation exclusives or have historically sold better on PlayStation systems. Could PlayStation want to lock down those multiplatform titles to make them PlayStation exclusives? Possibly. But depending on the price SE wants it might be a mostly useless gesture. PlayStation boss, Jim Ryan, said back in May: ” “In terms of future M&A [mergers and acquisitions] activity, the answer to that is we are not at all finished with our strategy of trying to grow PlayStation Studios inorganically.” All this is to say it is certainly possible for the merger to happen, but it has to make financial or structural sense.
I really dislike the consolidation that is going on in the videogame industry right now. It’s already a small industry under the Big Three (Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation) and with Embracer Group and Tencent in the picture it will only shrink further. Mergers are not so bad when they are smaller however. For example Square-Enix used to be two separate companies, Squaresoft and Enix, but merged back in 2003 as they both were reeling from financial hardship. Today they are a powerhouse not only in gaming but in manga and anime publishing as well. But the big boys cannibalizing the smaller studios (*cough, EA, cough*) stifles innovation and reduces job prospects.
What are you thoughts about this possible purchase or on consolidation in general? let us know in the comment section. Subscribe to GeekNewsNow so you don’t miss any future nerdy news. Check out my videogame podcast, DuoSense, for more gaming takes and news. As always folks, stay geeky out there!