In May, Square Enix sold off three studios in Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and Square Enix Montreal for a ‘low’ sum of $300 million in order to become a more acquirerable company by Sony.
Since May, the house that Final Fantasy built has been fire selling studios off its plate in preparation for a possible acquisition by Sony, rumours suggest. In an interview with former Eidos Montreal Studio Head, Stephane D’Astous, talked about his time at the company, along with issues he had with the ““lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication.”
In an interview with GamesIndustry, D’Astous discusses what went wrong with the way Eidos was handled. Following D’Astous leaving Eidos in 2013, Crystal Dynamics Studio Head, Darrell Gallagher, left in 2015, and Dynamics was also a part of the $300 million deal sold to the Embracer Group in the latest studio sale.
D’Astous explains “It’s a train that is slowing down and needs some injection of energy or money or something, but the train is slowing down,” regarding the studio’s health at the time of his departure.
If I read between the lines, Square Enix Japan was not as committed as we hoped initially. And there are rumours, obviously, that with all these activities of mergers and acquisitions, that Sony would really like to have Square Enix within their wheelhouse. I heard rumours that Sony said they’re really interested in Square Enix Tokyo, but not the rest. So, I think [Square Enix CEO Yosuke] Matsuda-san put it like a garage sale.”– Stephane D’Astous, GamesIndustry Interview
During the same interview, D’Astous went on to explain why the numbers didn’t make sense, figuring the same Embracer Group purchased Gearbox for $1.4 Billion, and explained that “They have basically Borderlands and others, and Eidos has five times the IPs. So why four times less? I guess there weren’t a lot of key people interested. And it shows the health of the value of the potential of Eidos, unfortunately,” regarding the differences in studio acquisition from Embracer.
The idea put forth is that Square Enix Tokyo was basically ‘giving away’ these studios with major licenses in the pursuit of being acquired by Sony. Selling of three major studios and their IPs for a fraction of what Gearbox garnered from the same buyer, is the confusing part. Square Enix was notoriously disappointed with game sales from the western studios, as also described by D’Astous.
With less overall assets, Square Enix could potentially be ‘easier’ for Sony to snag, but as of this article, the rumours of a potential purchase should be taken with a grain of salt. Sony has been on a recent buying spree however, with their latest acquisitions of the massive Destiny 2 developer, Bungie, and Demon Souls remake studio BluePoint late last year.