Square was founded in 1983 while Enix opened for business in 1975. The two Japanese giant merged in 2003, making them by far and away the biggest RPG company in the industry with games like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. However, the decline in popularity of RPG games, especially those made in Japan, has forced Square Enix to move into a different direction.
Square Enix was the sole reason why the RPG genre has taken off worldwide. Dragon Quest lit the Japanese world on fire ever since it debuted on the NES in 1986. Eventually, the games became so popular that the Japanese Government had to pass a law to prevent Dragon Quest from being released in a workday as many people skipped out on their jobs in order to play the latest titles.
While it wasn’t as successful in Japan, Final Fantasy did better worldwide. The series exploded in popularity thanks to the resounding success of Final Fantasy VII on Playstation.
However, the grandeur of the RPG genre is quickly fading away thanks in large part, ironically, to Square Enix. This is because many other companies follow the lead of Square Enix. The constant delay of mainline Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games in addition to the numerous spin-offs have really dragged down the genre. Not to mention that many prospective buyers migrated to other genres.
Being primary a RPG developer, Square Enix needed to change their stripes quickly if they want to stay afloat on the ever changing landscape of the gaming market. Aside from a few RPG games from their popular franchises, they are starting to stray from the same genre that made the company what it is today.
Square Enix’s first move is to buy Eidos Interactive. The purchase accomplished two goals: provide Square Enix a bigger presence in the western markets in addition to giving their lineup more diversity with more genres covered. Games like Deus Ex, Hitman and Thief is now under their control.
Square Enix is also working more with western development studios. This is important because Japanese developers have fallen behind the rest of the world in several advances. So for Square Enix to strive under the current conditions, they will need to globalize. Thus, we see are seeing games like Supreme Commander 2 (developed by Gas Powered Games), Nier (developed by Cavia) and Front Mission: Evolved (developed by Double Helix Games).
Due to the changing state of the gaming industry, Square Enix is no longer the prominent RPG company they once were.