Square-Enix Montreal: The GO Franchise is Gone

     Last Friday Canadian developer Square-Enix Montreal's head Patrick Naud told PCGamesInsider.biz that the studio would no longer be producing games in the GO franchise, as it's becoming difficult finding ways to monetize premium games in an ever evolving mobile marketplace.  They are looking to not only find a new model to bring players their premium quality games, but finding ways of keeping them engaged with them.

     Despite the fact that a great majority of Square-Enix Montreal's revenue was generated through the up-front premium price, they seem to want to steer things away from pushing players to the store, or flooding them with advertisements to purchase things on their mobile titles.

     Naud explains the situation as:
     "The Go series was a great adventure for us as a studio. We've done the three games, we've seen the wind. The hardest element is making premium games on mobile. 
     It's one of the challenges we have today is the premium mobile market is diminishing. You've got more and more high-quality free titles so there are even fewer and fewer people inclined to try something that will not be free. 
     Despite the critical success and the great revenue we've had, it's sad to see that our games are only played by a small slither of the population because of the price point. That's such a big barrier for mobile users. A lot of people consume mobile games only and they have all these options, all these games; why should they invest money in this one unless they're very convinced? 
     That doesn't mean they won't spend in-game, but they want to spend on a game that they're sure they're going to like. The perception of choice makes it that even if it's only $5, that's too much."
     Square-Enix Montreal's goal is to make money in a way that players won't feel forced into paying for IAPs.  It should, rightfully, be something players aren't led to hitting a wall in the game.  The plan is to focus on designing games that use a "service-based" direction.
     They'll be attempting to avoid damaging players experience through offering things such as speeding up progression, extra levels of service like the hint system the GO games had, an "Undo Button" to avoid having to replay an entire puzzle over again after making a mistake, or- tying to the fact that users that spend on IAPs tend to have a much higher engagement and lengthening the games longevity- create things like Deus Ex GO's puzzle editor.  It allows for infinite replayability by letting users create, share, and challenge each other greatly extending the length the game will last and enabling better player retention in the long run.

     Luckily enough for us, Square-Enix Montreal's intention is to find a new way to bring us not just the quality, high-end premium games, but ones that lead the way with brand new concepts for others to follow.
     "The focus is still tailoring high-end, high-quality pristine mobile experiences 
     If we are to work on a known IP, our treatment will somewhat reinvent that IP. If we are to work on a new genre, our treatment - I hope - will be a style that's cloned by everyone else.
     There's still the ambition of crafting the best games in the industry. If we keep that as part of our DNA, we're going to engage users for years and years to come, which is the plan now."
     Hitman GOLara Croft GO, and its DLC The Shard of Life, as well as Deus Ex GO were all beautifully spartan games- simple gameplay and and tremendously reduced aesthetic and design for a decent price- but the time has come for the studio to move on due to financial viability.  This comes as a bit of a surprise, as it's been over a year and a half since the release of Deus Ex GO, and both Just Cause GO and Life is Strange GO even had domains registered.
          It would've been cool to see a Thief or Murdered: Soul Suspect adapted to the GO design, along with some intriguing new mechanics and story potential, but honestly this shift away from the franchise opens up an opportunity for a completely new and original type of game.  Perhaps a new installment in the Mana series, a new type of game akin to Vagrant Story as an action title, or a mobile 3rd person adventure game in the Legacy of Kain saga.  This offers immense possibility for the future of their mobile-focused lineup through even better innovations and ideas than they've previously brought us- just as they did by taking the Hitman franchise in a completely new direction with GO.  That one departure from previous form spawned numerous isometric-puzzler clones Ghosts of MemoriesThe Hacker 2.0, and even Star Wars: Heroes Path, and we can only hope they can revitalize other series' with as much ingenuity.

    Sources [ PocketGamer & 2 ]

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