Japanese publisher closes India branch without it releasing a single title
Just a year after entering the market, Square Enix has shut down its India operations without having released a single game.
Square Enix India was set up with a view to developing mobile games for the Indian market in collaboration with Indian developers. While it did not develop games itself, Square Enix India’s in-house team of producers were said to have been working with several developers across India on various projects, neither of which got the green light from Square Enix HQ in Japan.
We contacted Atul Vibhandik, now ex-vice president of Square Enix India, and while he refused to comment on the matter, he did confirm that Square Enix HQ had indeed decided to close its India operations.
Square Enix’s India office comprised of six employees, all of whom have now been laid off.
It is rumoured that, aside from India, Square Enix’s similar venture into Latin America is also in jeopardy, with multiple already-greenlit projects being cancelled.
Square Enix’s foray into India had been inauspicious from the beginning, and well before its Indian subsidiary was set up last year. The Square Enix Game Development Contest India, through which it hoped to discover Indian game development talent that it could partner with, ended with Square Enix deciding not to publish and formally release either winning entry.
Its exit from India, however, was unexpected, having entered the market with a long-term view. The push into emerging markets was spearheaded by Yasuhiro Fukushima, who had personally surveyed India’s game development landscape long before the company decided to enter the market.
While Fukushima remains an honorary chairman at Square Enix, he stepped away from all active involvement in its operations last year, and the company’s emerging markets business is now headed by former president Yoichi Wada.
When launching the game development contest, Fukushima had told MCV that the company’s plans for India were long term, and that it would take at least three years before he expected results.
“If this contest helps us discover some great games, that’ll be fantastic, but more than that, we’re looking for promising talent whom we can work with in the long term. I envision that three years from now, there will be hit titles coming out of India that the world will enjoy, and five years from now, top Indian developers will be well known on the global stage,” said Fukushima.
Square Enix’s long-term commitment to India was further reiterated by Wada last November at the NASSCOM GDC, where, in the conference’s opening keynote, he outlined the company’s plans for India and envisioned a future where gaming would be as popular as Bollywood. He was similarly optimistic, although cautiously so, when he spoke with us on the sidelines of GDC.
Less than six months after that keynote, Square Enix India is closed, and rumblings within the industry suggest that the about-turn is a result of the changes in management that have taken place at Square Enix HQ.
We've contacted Square Enix for an official statement on the closure, and will update the story when we have more.
Photo: Flickr/Guilhem Vellut
This article was originally published on our sister site MCV India