Square Enix has revealed that it will likely be outsourcing all its future big releases rather than developing them itself, suggesting forthcoming Final Fantasy titles may bear the reassuring seal of China quality even more strongly than before.

None other than Motomu Toriyama, the luminary who decided Final Fantasy XIII could do without towns or confusing choices, gave a recent GDC interview in which he explained how making a big game is now just too much trouble (or just too difficult) for Square Enix to do itself:

“The development time was quite long,” admitted Motomu Toriyama, director of FFXIII and FXIII-2, at GDC Taipei.

“Within our company, developing on PlayStation for Final Fantasy XIII we required a huge amount of graphical data. … At the peak, there were over 200 people working on it.” The breakdown there was 180 artists, 30 programmers, and 36 game designers.

“With a large-scale development team, we didn’t use our time well,” he said. “How do you communicate to everyone in the department what the drive of the game is?”

The company had previously been using the story as the basis for development, but as it changed, it was tough to keep that many people abreast of the changes. “We decided we needed to create more practical milestones, not story-based ones.”

“Because it’s a large-scale project, we had to keep it secret, but this led to user testing happening way too late in the process,” he said.

“We heard a lot of feedback about things we needed to fix, and we decided we would do that with FFXIII-2. … We decided that we would have a milestone every month, and realized we needed to applied more Western technology and production techniques. We learned this not only from GDC, but also from Eidos [now owned by Square Enix].”

“We are also thinking that we will not do large-scale internal development any longer.” he said. “We have a lot of great creators in Square Enix, but for larger-scale development we will be doing more distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time.”

Square Enix’s success at outsourcing so far speaks for itself

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    Avatar of Tim
    Comment by Tim
    06:35 29/06/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Square die when they merge with Enix and Sagakuchi left & Wada become the CEO that was the end of my favorite company ever.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:39 29/06/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Pretty much how every gaming company in history dies. Squeenix? EA Westwood? Activision Blizzard? The list goes on...

    Avatar of Akagi
    Comment by Akagi
    06:03 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    "blizzard doesn't answer to activision... but to the parent company, vivindi (i believe)"

    They've been compromised by Activision.

    Bobby Kotick, Activisian CEO, has stated that he doesn't want to see any games that can't sell you gimmicky peripherals, don't have clear sequel potential, or aren't just vehicles for DLC/micropayments.

    After they merged with Blizzard, all their business decisions have followed this philosophy. StarCraft 2 got divided into 3 separate purchases, they're trying to monetize the map system, & Diablo 3 is starting to take money for gear.

    Comment by Anonymous

    blizzard doesn't answer to activision... but to the parent company, vivindi (i believe)

    i believe blizzard is in a downfall because of the success of wow, not because of activision meddling.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:41 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Vivendi was the downfall of a lot of good gaming.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:45 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    @13:37 (lol)
    SC2 isn't all that great to play. The game is so overdesigned as an E-sport and that it sacrifices many of the things that make gameplay fun. Not to mention adopting some of the poor design decisions of BW in an effort not to alienate the BW crowd.

    I could see how the competitive element can be fun for some people, but the core gameplay is just mediocre.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:12 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)


    you see, i cant blame Vivendi either.

    blizzard literally made the biggest pc game ever, and they made more money off that one game than anything else ever, and realized that they make more sales when the games are easy for everyone to play.

    the problem is where hardcore wow players get high end raids, hardcore diablo players get jack shit... grind for new gear, rinse repeat, because you cant customize your own character.

    i cant say that Vivendi had any input on the game at all, its just that i think blizzard tried to apply wow success to diablo, and in turn we got this.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:23 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ya that explains so much about how starcraft 1 was made by americans as well

    Comment by Anonymous

    downfall? I can agree to Diablo 3 being mediocre... but sc2 is just too damn awesome

    Comment by Anonymous

    Starcraft 2 is a pile of shit. The colossus is the worst creation of all time. As expected from those filthy Americans.

    Avatar of KiTA
    Comment by KiTA
    16:22 01/07/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Enix bought Square to keep them from being bought by Microsoft.

    Unfortunately, Enix did not force them to uphold the high quality standards that Enix does. You'll note that it's only Square properties that are having these horrible problems -- Dragon Quest 9 was probably the best "old school" style RPG in the past decade, and Dragon Quest 10 is like Final Fantasy 11 or 14, only done by competent people who actually listen to the fanbase and know how to design a MMORPG. (The fact that it's basically DQ9 with Monster Hunter / PSO style online multiplay helps).

    In short, don't blame Enix for this. What you're seeing is the same problems that got Squaresoft so hammered that Enix had to swoop in and save them.

    Avatar of Shimazaki
    Comment by Shimazaki
    01:57 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    You forgot Nobuo Uematsu too......gone for good to make his own studio.....digicube.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:01 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Best comment ever! SE without Sagakuchi and Uematsu is the same of bacon without eggs!

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:51 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I find it funny how that thought focusing 100% on FF and KH spinoffs would bring them maximum profits, when Square reached their most successful point in the PSX era when they were making a ton of vastly different games.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:42 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    In short he is lazy and doesnt want to work

    Avatar of Lurieh
    Comment by Lurieh
    06:37 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm not sure he say he will be outsourcing the whole production, maybe just small bits so that makeovers in middle of production doesn't cost as much...

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:06 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    close your doors already, assholes

    Avatar of Nick R
    Comment by Nick R
    05:43 02/07/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    -.- Simply Put: Square and Enix never should've gotten Married. I'm sure a rest-assured Divorce could be the company's quickest recovery.

    But here is the REAL truth. This goes for ALL companies in the Gaming Business.

    I ask this question: "Why were the PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 generations so much more Profitable than the new PlayStation/XBox360 Era?"

    Simply put: With the Enhanced Graphics and High-Definition that PlayStation and XBox is REQUIRING from companies, it's making it so much HARDER on developers to do any REAL creativity. There is so much concentration on CODING and GRAPHIC INTERFACE that there is hardly any space LEFT for the actual game itself.

    Square says it themselves. The movie portion of the game was so much easier to deal with than the actual programming of FFXIII. This is the SAME reason they give for not wanting to Remake VII, VIII, IX, and X. The process is lots of hard, and very unappreciated work.

    It's funny since the games of PS2 and PS1 (Though being less graphics, were always much more enjoyable to me than today's games.

    As of now, I play this very competitive game called Fantasy Earth Zero HK. Sadly they tried the North American Market, but GamePotUSA had to destroy itself. (They made a lot of very bad marketing decisions costing players the game.)

    Anyways. The game is 2006 Graphic Quality. But the game is much more exciting since I get to play with actual players on a large 50/50 Kingdom VS Kingdom battles... Recently they've been implementing a 75/75 wars, it's almost impossible to survive those wars.

    If Square Enix Really wanted to save itself - they just need to visit what made 7, 8, 9 and 10 so successful and do that. If they need to go back to Text-scrolling storyline and Cutscenes that last 1.5 minutes then do that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:52 01/07/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I hope they don't, just let go off the whole Square part of wothless CG-movies called """rpg""". However let Enix continue to produce DQ in the tradition of unfiltered JRPG goodness that it still is.

    Avatar of Rei-Sama
    Comment by Rei-Sama
    07:54 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wish they would, but seems like they want to rape final fantasy for the last drop of blood before the corpse is no more.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:51 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    -- “Because it’s a large-scale project, we had to keep it secret, but this led to user testing happening way too late in the process,”

    Uh... And why can't such a big company hire some ppl to test their games and keep it in secret? I don't get it.

    Avatar of Gitami
    Comment by Gitami
    11:45 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Outsourcing would just mean a leak of a smaller picture. It's still a leak.

    Perhaps they just want to do the character design, map design, music, and story. That would reduce cost projection down a lot and they'll budget incorrectly and then meet below standard productions that require redos and that will eat more of their error/fixes budgets.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:23 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    It's not that easy to keep a secret.
    Even under NDA, if many people know about it and one of them make a leak, the IP holder won't know who's let the info out and so the NDA they have with their employees and testers is worthless.

    Avatar of HouseLife
    Comment by HouseLife
    06:51 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Yes, there has to be trust, and trust between 200+ people gets difficult to maintain. There are true, whiny assholes out there who will release things thinking they'll be fine even if it's blatantly obvious to anyone who's not an idiot they'd be fired and/or sued.

    I don't agree with this decision though at all... it makes no sense. Outsourcing to production houses is in every way more difficult and expensive than anything in house. I don't think he knows what he's talking about.

    When my coworkers had to deal with an outsourced collection of animations to a production house, maybe 4 in a batch of 20 were usable. Now that's not to say that tweaks won't happen of course, but they were absurd in some cases. One animator there would make the breasts do completely impossible things, like he was integrating anime breasts physics into a realistic game. Funny, but retarded to do. I was interning at the time, and I did the same amount of animations in the same time as their team because I was close to the project designers and could communicate and do changes on the fly, plus I understood the game's style visually.

    Suffice it to say, this is not going to bode well in the future. If they can't even communicate between 200 in-house, I'm not sure what the tumbling fuck they think they'll accomplish by spending twice the money for a fourth of the communication ability.

    ...unless of course China gives a discount... in which case fuck them even more. Quality of the final product was all Square has left. No matter what people whined or disagreed with choices for FFXIII or XIII-2, they were exceptionally made games.

    Avatar of HouseLife
    Comment by HouseLife
    13:40 29/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.4)

    I believe that FFXIII was a good choice personally. I don't really understand what it was that gamers expected that made FFXIII so unbearable. I know there were issues, of course, but they didn't destroy the emotion and premise at all. If it was towns and exploration, then frankly I think those people needed to stay silent.

    The level of exploration in games has increased tremendously from the old days, so it's not like there wasn't any. But a focused, detailed plot with no hindrances in development of the characters or the story itself is a great thing, and I want more honestly. Some would say 'then read a book' or something useless, but that's just a stupid thing to say. FFXIII-2 proved that they could do it better, and everyone knew they could, but still, I truly enjoyed the first story as well, and now the story is expanded so much more into a new level. It wouldn't have been the same if it hadn't been for going through FFXIII first and getting to know the characters in that setting. The feeling of needing to keep going forward with someone nipping at your heels and the feeling of loneliness without reprieve was the whole purpose of the game. If you had towns in which to dick around or tons of side quests, none of it would have fit the feeling. And people who didn't want that feeling... well... I don't know what to say, I loved actually feeling like something was actually urgent for once. The purpose of the game wasn't to get the same feeling as the last games, and I commend them for doing it. I don't use hate often, but I HATE that so many people were too shallow to enjoy it. I don't care if they didn't 'get it' that doesn't mean anything... the game was great, and of course could have been better.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:42 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Unfortunately, sometimes you'll need to adapt your story, because it just doesn't work well from a gaming perspective.

    Hideo Kojima gave an interview recently, where he mentioned on how in one of the MGS games, there was supposed to have been a section where Solid Snake would be trying to escape from a ship, while water kept on pouring in, so he was essentially trying to stay ahead of the rushing water.

    While it looked cool, and while it made sense for the story, it just wasn't fun to play, so he had it scrapped, and reworked his story.

    But even when you do that, it's up to management to communicate this through to the team leaders, who then have to pass it on to the guys working under them.

    So it still boils down to a management problem.

    Avatar of Nick R
    Comment by Nick R
    05:54 02/07/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is something SQUARE ENIX should have known since 2001.

    (Final Fantasy is NOT movie material.)

    That applies DOUBLE for its games.

    The reason why it worked in Final Fantasy X was because the cutscenes there were much more heavily integrated into the game making it seamless with the gameplay.

    Final Fantasy VIII and IX were much more successful at it than X though. They were still able to tell a story, but the important cut-scenes were shown in a minute to 3 minute span of time leaving the 13 minute ending (VIII) for the final disc after all the game had played out. Personally liked the silent film touch to it also.

    Final Fantasy XIII had the same problem as Final Fantasy XII and
    Xenosaga Episode I

    4-6 hours worth of MOVIE. That's fine if you're going to a theater to watch copious amounts of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but this is INTERACTIVE. That means drop the remote and give me a game controller.

    Again If I want a movie I'll plug-in a movie.

    Avatar of Lurieh
    Comment by Lurieh
    07:14 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Can't agree more with this (I'm 06:23 anon)
    they won't communicate the drive of the game better to people that are on another continent than people that are in the same room.

    But maybe they plan to outsource aspects of the game that don't need a lot of cohesion, like monsters for example, they always had very random designs to start with.

    Also : "outsourced development to reach our targets on time" I'm not strong on how their game development economics works, but having everything they need done quickly might be a form of keeping costs down for them.

    And despite all sancom say of China quality, they do have some nice 3D artists ;)
    (and make some nice cheap hifi equipment too)

    From what I read of the interview on gamasutra, it seems the biggest decision is that they go for agile (like scrum or lean) inspired development process. with smaller iterations.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:42 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    You have to wonder outsourcing; thus increasing the number of people who have a say in the project, is going to streamline the process. Besides which: they'll be learning from scratch: Square Enix have been working on games like FF for years, so they should only be getting better.
    Perhaps they simply need a new director/ head of logistics. Or to get their stories/ characters straight before they commit to any actual game production. Longer process, but may be quicker overall... Might give them more time to make their cut scenes look pretty...
    As i said, they've been at it for long enough.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:33 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Quite frankly it sounds more like a management problem.

    The whole, oh the team is getting too big, bla bla.

    That's what team leads are for, .

    You have one overarching group, that's calling the shots, and they inform the team leaders below them what the decisions are.

    If a problem arises, then the team leader communicates upwards to the overarching group as to what's occurred, and they then notify the other teams of the problem and the possible solution.

    That keeps everyone on the same page, doesn't mean you don't need benchmarks as well, because you do, lest you spend years in development limbo. Just that proper management is key in both meeting benchmarks as is keeping everyone on the same page.

    Same also goes for the Q&A department, the Q&A team leader reports to the overarching group, they then pass it on to the team leaders of the other divisions and a solution is found, or not.

    And as for attracting enough Q&A personnel, that's what NDA's are for. The risk of losing your shirt, and any further employment chances in the business should be more than enough to keep folks mum.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:55 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.3)

    I don't really care what they say to be honest... this company has changed so much from what we used to know over the years, and now it is all but one word... Money. The passion of making good fun game is gone down the drains after the whole world caught up with them (Skyrim for example), as well as having a 5 years generation in new technology which they can't seem to bring anything out before they reach the end of its cycle.

    I don't mind if tomorrow is the end of the world, because I know for the fact that I have enjoyed every single piece of Final Fantasy game they have ever made, also Kingdom Hearts if I manage to get hold of a 3DS at some point. But to bring an end to all of these games before the end of time, you sir have made a big mistake.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:11 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Skyrim sucked imho, boring as freakin hell. XIII-2 was 'ok' but honestly had no replay value whatsoever, but at least it kept me interested/entertained instead of falling asleep on XIII and deciding 'fuck it, I'm gonna play something else' half-way through. Besides, let's face it nostalgia factor is always going come into play with whatever final fantasy (let alone anything) comes out nowadays. We're nit picky little fuckers; all of us in this day and age.

    Comment by Anonymous


    Comment by Anonymous
    07:08 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Did you mean Skyrim is a good fun game or a cancerous cash-cow? Because I enjoyed it even less than any Elder Scrolls. Every place is the same. Every enemy is the same. The storyline has no originality or interest. The landscapes are repetitive. And the marketing campaign around the presence of dragons... OH GOD, DRAGONS IN A VIDEOGAME ! LOOK !

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:37 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Skyrim is good because mods. Simple as that. Almost no other game out today such a huge modder avenue. Without mods, I agree that Skyrim would have been forgotten in two months max after its release.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:10 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well I didn't have the patience to keep it installed for so long on my computer.

    Avatar of Kiljoy616
    Comment by Kiljoy616
    12:16 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Which story line are you talking about, since there are a few you can peruse from, that was one of the things I liked about the game. yes its not a linear game and that a good thing, better than Mass Effect shit dropping now that is one lame ass retarded game. Good start but EA killed any fun out of it.

    Most games are about money now, after all who cares about making good games just put eye candy and let the retards button match their way to the ending.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:55 01/07/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Comparing Skyrim to FF..lol oh wow. Skyrim is at least actually GOOD in what it tries do deliver, a whole open world experience. FF has become BAD at being in the tradition of a grand storytelling JRPG. It's as simply as that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:59 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    FF13 and 14 are trainwrecks. I'm glad that they outsource and let someone else have a shot at making a good FF game again.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:07 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.3)

    Um ff13 and 14 are trainwrecks exactly because they outsourced it. You can't even begin to imagine how much things are going to suck when everything are outsourced. There are going to be a continuation of quality drop because these contractors are going to cut corners, the contracts aren't even granted due to merits, but how well connected these offshore houses are. The whole system is so corrupted that's why you see a consistent drop in quality of goods all over the world.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:22 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    The only game outsourced between the two is FFXIV. FFXIII was developed in-house, but the fucker that shat on it with his own take under the blessing of Kitase and Wada is none other than Toriyama.

    The same Toriyama that wrong that disasterous failure that was Bahamut Lagoon.

    The same Toriyama that deceived all long-term Parasite Eve fans with the piece of binary shit titled The Third Birthday.

    The same motherfucking Toriyama that literally ruined Front Mission Evolved.

    FFXIV may have been SE's most expensive mistake this generation, but all the others can all be crossreferenced back to Motomu 'Motomenai' Toriyama.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:32 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    They weren't actually out sourced. The whole China quality thing was just something made up by sancom to poke fuck of the crap quality.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:55 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Lies, XIII wasn't outsourced, but XIV definitely was. Too many things point to XIV being at least partially outsourced. (Mis-translations, the capped level system, etc.)

    Avatar of Erranty
    Comment by Erranty
    03:32 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Maybe, but Square's still the ones responsible for Kingdom Hearts, I'd really hate to see that outsourced.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:47 29/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    That was a long time ago. At this rate, China-quality will be a big improvement.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:15 29/06/2012 # ! Drivel (-0.7)

    FF13 is an amazing game. Most people just don't understand it

    Comment by Tenno Seremel
    05:53 29/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.4)

    When your players don't understand awesomeness of your game you are doing it wrong.

    Comment by Tenno Seremel
    16:06 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    15:53 29/06/2012
    You don't get it after all. To your players, not masses.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:53 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    No, I'm not missing the point. There is nothing wrong in developing games which do not appeal to the masses.

    Comment by Tenno Seremel
    14:51 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    You are saying it like a bad writing is not doing wrong :)

    At 07:02 29/06/2012 anonymous:
    I think you missed the point. I was talking about devs.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:55 30/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)


    A bad writing decision and bad writing are not the same thing. This is the distinction most of the stupid people who rag on the game seem completely unable to made. Just because they revealed the story badly does not mean it was a bad story.

    The first book in the Sword of Truth series is a great example. The man was a completely shitty writer, but the plot and characters and situations were enough to keep me reading... after more breaks than usual to get over how terrible a writer he was. Thank god he improved in later books, but it shifted. The writing got better and the story got worse.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:02 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    (different anon here)
    I never said I want everyone to play my awesome game. If a game is not designed for the most common denominator, I have every reason to be annoyed when the most common denominator starts bitching about how much the game sucks.

    Not that I'm saying FF13 was a good game. I wouldn't know since I haven't played it.

    Avatar of HouseLife
    Comment by HouseLife
    07:04 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    No, it was an amazing game. They just made some design choices most disagreed with, or were downright detrimental. I won't even apologize for their inability to have integrated important plot information from the Codex, while spoiling plot points in it as well. That's just bad writing. Plus they should have allowed more of the paradigm system much earlier, that was extremely foolish to keep it locked for so long.

    Those are the two major issues the game had in its base design. Almost everything else is basically people whining about the lack of towns or a certain dislike for a character. I didn't want any towns in the game after knowing why there weren't any. As always, spoiled brats lose perspective and everything becomes shit with a few shortcomings that don't follow their perceptions. Completely tossing aside beautiful world design, characters who were as interesting as any previous FF character, and a general story that was actually very nicely done. All FFXIII did was shatter everyone's illusions that there's actually a such thing as a 'non-linear' game. There isn't, and really there never will be. I'm sick of games pretending there is. All it does is give creators excuses to make shallow characters and stale worlds spread over an eternity with useless quests they couldn't be bothered to make useful to the story.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:26 29/06/2012 # ! Drivel (-0.7)

    I agree. I loved FF13 (both halves).

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