Certain developers have certain reputations. Ubisoft is a company that puts out a lot of live service games. Whether they do well at launch is a hit or miss, but it can be counted on to keep supporting them for years to come. EA is seen as shifty and untrustworthy. Microtransactions keep getting shoved into games, and it has a habit of… well… killing off previously great developers. But what about Square Enix. Well, it’s a company that has its flaws, but is also doing a lot that is pretty cool and often kind of great.
First, let’s think about Dragon Quest. It’s one of the biggest RPG series on the planet, even if it doesn’t always see as much success outside of Japan as it does in that country. Its games get AAA treatment, with Dragon Quest XI being a stunner and getting a definitive Dragon Quest XI S Switch release that packed it all in. Inside Japan, there are neat oddities like Dragon Quest Walk, a Pokemon Go equivalent that is quite successful. It’s a series Square Enix isn’t afraid to experiment with, and that’s great.
Square Enix also is in the habit of reviving games that others might have abandoned. Take Final Fantasy XIV. It crashed and burned hard. The company could have given up. It didn’t. It brought in Naoki Yoshida to completely change the game. A Realm Reborn was a fantastic success that revitalized everything, which was pretty incredible. It’s going strong to this day. (As is Final Fantasy XI, coincidentally, the first Final Fantasy MMORPG. These games have staying power and keep getting support!)
Even though you might not expect it, Square Enix is also a company that isn’t afraid to get weird. Which is great for people who want something unusual, but grand. The Drakengard and NieR series both qualify. Both have surprising amounts of depth, weird things like gigantic dragon hunts, battles with shoot’em up elements, girls with flowers growing out of their eyes, and androids that have more heart than humans. It’s a company that takes chances on products, with them sometimes paying off or at least becoming cult classics.
The worst thing someone could really say about Square Enix is that the company can come across as greedy. After all, look at how many ports, remasters, and remakes it puts out. But even then, things aren’t that bad sometimes. Yes, the Chrono Trigger series of ports had quality issues, but a series of patches remedied that. With the Trials of Mana remake, it’s about getting an obscure game a fresh coat of paint and larger audience. Final Fantasy VII Remake is cutting up a chunk of the game and not giving a full experience, but people have been demanding it for years.
As a whole, Square Enix is a pretty great company. It definitely is opportunistic. All the ports and remasters show that. But it is also a company that takes chances, like with NieR: Automata. It experiments and shows care to major series, like Dragon Quest. It also doesn’t give up on games, which is great for entries like Final Fantasy XIV. One might even be able to say it’s among the best developers and publishers out there.