It is the oftentimes the case that companies that try to expand into unknown territory—no matter how well founded the idea may be—are burnt by various problems that arise during the course of realizing the endeavour. This lesson is one that Square has unfortunately had to learn the hard way.
The company's recent motion picture debut Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has met with disappointing earning across the globe. The film pulled in just over $30 million domestically, and went on to lackluster showings in both Europe and Japan. For any other film these earnings would be mildly acceptable, but the company sunk over $140 million into development of FF:TSW. With this in mind, it was hardly surprising when COO Yoichi Wada announced at a press conference yesterday that Square is pulling out of the movie business. The terrible earnings of the film are primarily responsible for the company likely posting a financial loss for the second year in succession next year.
All of this does not mean that Square is totally abandoning extraneous ventures in order to concentrate full-time on games. The company has produced an anime series dubbed Final Fantasy Unlimited, which has already started airing in Japan The production is an original series conceptualized by Akitoshi Kawazu, director of Square's SaGa series. In an interview with Anime Dream, Square's Hironobu Sakaguchi, director of FF:TSW, stated that this television series would serve as the basis for an entirely new game franchise. Akitoshi Kawazu will maintain his association with Final Fantasy Unlimited by serving as the director of the first interactive offshoot of the franchise.
In the same interview, Sakaguchi confirmed that he would be staying on board at Square, abrogating rumors that have been running rampant on the internet that he would be leaving the company. Look for more news from Square in the near future as we learn how the company is going to attempt to recoup its lost earnings.