Not only have Forspoken sales been ‘lacklustre’ but Square Enix has admitted many of its smaller titles have underperformed too.
It was already apparent that Forspoken wasn’t quite the success that Square Enix was hoping it would be. Aside from a critical drubbing, it quickly dropped out of the UK sales charts, being outperformed by the new SpongeBob SquarePants game in just its second week.
Square Enix has now formally acknowledged the disappointing sales, in its latest financial results, calling Forspoken’s performance ‘lacklustre’.
While the current financial quarter hasn’t ended yet, and the sales of recent titles like Octopath Traveler 2 and Theatrhythm Final Bar Line, could pull things back, Square Enix admits it sees ‘considerable downside risk to our FY2023/3 earnings.’
The company does acknowledge that there has been some praise for Forspoken’s parkour and combat mechanics, which will ‘lead to improvement of our development capabilities of other games in the future.’
Unless Forspoken miraculously gets a second wind it’s unlikely that any such capabilities will be applied to a sequel. Especially with developer Luminous Studios being absorbed back into Square Enix before it’s even launched the prequel DLC.
It isn’t just Forspoken that Square Enix is disappointed with either. Year-on-year net sales of HD games (i.e., full price console and PC launches) are down compared to the same period in 2022.
Square Enix says that this is despite launching the likes of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion and Dragon Quest Treasures, but it doesn’t state which specific games underperformed.
All it says is: ‘Earnings from new titles were lower than in the same period of the previous year.’ That’s especially worrying as they said the exact same thing last year.
‘Net sales declined year-on-year in the HD Games sub-segment, partly because the release of major titles a year earlier had created a challenging year-on-year hurdle, but also because many of the new small and mid-sized titles we launched this year did not perform as well as we had expected,’ it adds.
There’s no telling what expectations Square Enix had for these smaller titles nor what sort of impact they’ll have on the company’s business strategy. But the obvious conclusion is that they won’t make so many of them in the future.
2023’s poised to be an important year for the company thanks to the launches of Final Fantasy 16 and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth (although the latter may not arrive until early 2024). Those are easily Square Enix’s biggest upcoming titles and neither one can afford to underperform.
This year will also see company president Yosuke Matsuda step down and be replaced with Takashi Kiryu, which seems like it probably isn’t a coincidence – although Square Enix has insisted it’s not giving up its much criticised plans to invest in NFT and blockchain technology.
The company even says in a Q&A with investors: ‘We also hope that you will look forward to the blockchain games we plan to launch in FY2024/3 and thereafter,’ clearly hoping they’ll be more profitable than their more recent line-up of games.
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