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Franchises to Span Platforms

10 Jun, 2005 By: John Gaudiosi

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

When Japanese game giants Square and Enix merged in late 2002, they created Square Enix, the largest maker of role-playing games in the world.

Square's “Final Fantasy” franchise has sold more than 60 million units worldwide and Enix's “Dragon Quest” games have sold more than 40 million units across the globe.

To grow its strong franchises, the Tokyo-based game publisher is employing a new cross-platform strategy.

Square Enix president Yoichi Wada called the new marketing initiative “polymorphic content,” which refers to taking an intellectual property and concurrently developing it as console and handheld games, mobile games, and manga (graphic novels). Traditionally, a game was made and then converted to manga, a movie and other forms of entertainment.

“This enables a given world-setting to be developed through various content and media,” Wada said.

Shinki Hashimoto, a senior executive, Square Enix, used the upcoming “Final Fantasy VII” video and game releases as an example of the new strategy. Beginning with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's September launch of the straight-to-DVD-and-UMD CGI movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Square Enix will establish that game as a new franchise. This fall's Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is an action role-playing PSP game that will implement new gameplay for the franchise.

The fall PS2 game, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, is the first shooting action game in the franchise. It takes place one year after the events of Advent Children, before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII will launch as a cell phone game in the United States in 2006.

Square Enix will also utilize this strategy with a new franchise called “Code Age.” The Code Age Archives manga is already out in Japan. Code Age Commanders is a new PS2 game shipping in Japan this year, along with Code Age Brawls for cell phones. The franchise will migrate to the United States next year.

Hashimoto said that another new franchise, “World of Mana,” will launch across media in the near future. Standalone games Radiata Stories and Romancing Saga ship for PS2 this fall.

Square Enix also has begun merchandising its franchises in the United States, something it has always done in Japan. Beginning this September, everything from T-shirts and ring tones to posters and action figures from Advent Children will inundate the United States.

Square Enix already is selling action figures through its Web site for Full Metal Alchemist II. Later in the year, figures from Kingdom Hearts II, in the form of chess pieces, and action figures from Dragon Quest VIII will be available for sale.

In other Square Enix news, with the success of Disney's Kingdom Hearts on PS2 and Game Boy Advance, which have sold more than 5 million units worldwide, the fall release of Disney's Kingdom Hearts II is expected to be a huge windfall for the company. Kingdom Hearts II blends original Square Enix characters and “Final Fantasy” characters with Disney characters.

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