Square Enix profits have plunged and its stock price is at rock bottom – fortunately CEO Yoichi Wada has a plan to reverse this, including a dramatic increase in the company’s reliance on micro-transactions and item charging in its games.
“I get the impression that ‘Dragon Quest’ type users and ‘item charge’ type users have quite different feelings [about a business model based on charging for items]. With the likes of Facebook, you can easily introduce friends and things spread quickly, so I feel it’s well suited to item charges, with the game being free.”
He went on to suggest the proportion of revenues accounted for by item charges will be increased from 30% to 40%.
Just whether item charging will make its way into some of Square Enix’s traditional franchises (presumably what is meant by his “Dragon Quest” reference) seems difficult to predict, although even Wada seems cautious if his comments above are any guide.
However, Final Fantasy XIV in particular was designed from the outset to appeal to casual gamers, so a free version with charges for items, skills and other content does not seem entirely outside the realms of possibility.