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Square Enix has been making mobile games for quite some time; for nearly a decade, actually. However, they're about to change up the way they produce handheld and portable games on dedicated gaming devices by also releasing them simultaneously on mobile smartphones and tablets.
According to Gamespot, Square Enix realized that there's a measure of overlap between portable gaming devices and mobile smart devices. They're hoping to cash in on this overlap by making games for handheld devices like the PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS and for smartphones like Androids and iPhones, especially after they've seen major growth and continued profits form the smartphone and tablet market.
Gamespot [via NeoGaf] pulled quotes from Square Enix president, Yosuke Matsuda, who explained to investors that the rapid advancements in smartphones is what has enabled the crossover, saying...
[...] we note that significant advances have been made in both the specs and operability of smart devices and that this evolution is likely to continue unabated [...] For these reasons, it makes sense for game manufacturers such as ourselves to supply games that we have traditionally developed for dedicated handheld game machines not only for such consoles but also for multipurpose smart devices.
That does make sense. Matsuda also mentioned that the install base for phones is obviously far larger than the portable gaming market, but that's because they are phones and just about everyone in the developed world has one. However, just because a lot of people have phones doesn't mean they're buying and playing games on them.
In fact, Matsuda kind of busts the bubble on a lot of the assumptions that just because an app is on mobile devices it'll make tons of money, especially if it's free-to-play. He mentions that free-to-play apps are riskier to develop than premium apps due to the fact that they cost the same but you aren't guaranteed sales from free-to-play downloads, and they require more overhead when it comes to tail-end maintenance.
Square Enix appears to want to take the concepts that helped make them huge in the 1990s and mid-aughts and bring those to the mobile phone arena. According to Matsuda, they will focus on specific turn-based and simulation-oriented role-playing games that they want to bring to smartphones and tablets. He doesn't mention any games in particular, but it would seem as if titles like Dissidia and the new Kingdom Hearts would be instant shoo-ins for release on mobile devices.
Square has already been experimenting with premium apps such as Mobius Final Fantasy, Deus Ex: Go, Lara Croft: Go, Hitman: Go and a variety of other RPGs, including Adventure of Mana being made available on smart devices. They seem to want to experiment bringing higher quality games that you would usually find on dedicated consoles and portable gaming machines to smartphones and tablets.
Matsuda seems to be going about the transition into the mobile market smartly, though. Opposite of companies like Zynga or King, they don't seem to be throwing out any and everything and seeing what sticks. Square is wisely picking and choosing franchises and titles that they think will resonate with audiences and grow their business in the mobile sector and the dedicated portable gaming market.