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    Eidos Montreal founder criticizes the decline of Square Enix’s western studios as a “train wreck in slow motion”




    Stephane D’Astus, founder and former head of Deus Ex developer Eidos Montreal, called Square Enix’s treatment of its western studios “a train wreck in slow motion” in an explosive new interview.

    Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, D’Astus criticized Square Enix’s past management of various Western studios and suggested that the recent sale of Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics may have been motivated by a desire to secure a PlayStation buyout.

    It was a trajectory that could have been predicted. I left because something was missing at the head office.[Pre-Square Enix] Eidos has a tradition of development teams, but they don’t have the superior knowledge of how to market their games. And it was perfectly clear.

    D’Astus left Eidos Montreal in 2013, two years before Darrell Gallagher, head of sister studio and creator of Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics, followed suit with his own company. And two years later, Square Enix-owned Hitman developer IO Interactive spun off entirely after a buyout negotiation.

    Earlier this year, Square Enix sold Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics to Embracer for $300 million, considered a bargain in the industry.

    This deal leaves Square Enix as a thinner company, now almost entirely focused on its own Japanese development studios.

    It was clear that we had great IPs that were sleeping on the shelf. Legacy of Kain was discussed, but it was not as strong as Deus Ex and Thief. [С Thief] we did our best and we fought. All the time it was not possible to find a common language. And we were close, but it just lacked some finishing touches.

    D’Astus said, reflecting on the legacy of Eidos Montreal.

    A year before leaving, D’Astus recalled a tense period when Square Enix said it was disappointed with the company’s financial performance and that it should have made a $65 million profit despite no “results” this year.

    We were stunned. The pressure began to build, and my employees – on me, I – on the authorities. I think that when people are in a crisis situation, and there are many situations, you see their main behavior or values. And I didn’t like what I saw. In fact, there was a lack of leadership, courage and communication. And when you don’t have these basic things, no employee can do their job right, especially when you’re running a studio. I lost hope that Square Enix Japan would bring a lot of new things to Eidos. I was losing confidence in my headquarters in London. In their annual financial statements, Japan has always added one or two phrases: “We were disappointed with some of the games. They did not live up to expectations.” And they made it strictly for certain games that were made outside of Japan.

    D’Astus said that Square Enix “isn’t as committed to its western studios as we had hoped” and that he had heard rumors of Sony’s interest in buying the company, albeit only its Japanese parts.

    Obviously, the rumor is that with all these M&A deals, Sony would really like to have Square Enix under its wing. I’ve heard rumors that Sony has said they’re really interested in Square Enix Tokyo, but not the rest. So I guess [генеральный директор Square Enix Йосуке] Matsuda-san called it a garage sale.

    “Anyway, in my opinion, it was a train wreck in slow motion,” he concluded. “It was predictable that the train was going in the wrong direction. And maybe it justified $300 million. It’s really not much. It doesn’t make sense.”

    In May, Eidos Montreal and new owner Crystal Dynamics Embracer said they were happy that the companies were at breakeven until new games were released, which would only be a few years later.



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