As megacorps play Hungry Hungry Hippos with publishers big and small, eyes turned to who’s left after the recent near-finalization of the Microsoft Activision Blizzard acquisition, and one name kept popping up.
Square Enix. The Japanese developer recently sold off many of its Western studios in what looked like a slim-down for possible sales. They have a long-standing relationship with Sony, this year alone producing exclusive consoles such as Forspoken and Final Fantasy XVI. At worst, the close relationship with Square Enix continued, and they acted as a cross-border exclusive provider. At best, Sony actually buys them and adds a big name to its roster to “counter” Microsoft.
Neither of these seem to be happening, and it’s kind of a worst-worst case for Sony. At FanFest, the Final Fantasy event, none other than Xbox’s Phil Spencer appeared to announce that Final Fantasy XIV, the beloved MMO, would be coming to Xbox in Spring 2024.
And potentially more: “We look forward to building on the relationship we’ve established bringing Final Fantasy XIV to Xbox and working closely with you and the Square Enix team on future games,” Spencer said.
While nothing specific was announced there, it certainly indicates the end of an unofficial cold war between Xbox and Square Enix, and while there may certainly be more Sony exclusive deals in the future, the door now appears to be open for more releases on across platforms. way most third-party publishers operate between PlayStation and Xbox. And neither party seems to be buying Square Enix, especially Sony, after this.
While we should never say never when it comes to these monster acquisitions in this day and age, what seems to have happened here is just some old fashioned diplomacy and deal making. I wonder if some of this was driven by FFXVI sales, which were good, but maybe SE is tired of often being limited to PlayStation alone. But who knows what Phil Spencer did to win them in the end.
It’s a potentially big deal for Sony if they can’t claim SE games as even limited-time exclusives in the future. Forerunner may have been a miss in this category, but Final Fantasy XVI certainly wasn’t, and it seems like the beginning of a new age for both SE and Microsoft. Xbox needs all the help they can get with their ecosystem, but this is a very solid partner to secure.