Former Eidos boss says Square Enix western studios were a “train wreck in slow motion”

Square Enix

Previously, Square Enix shockingly revealed the sale of its western studios to Embracer Group. What was more shocking was price of the sale, which included companies like Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and Square Enix Montreal, along with their IPs, was only $300 million.

One man who was not surprised to see the unceremonious dismissal of the western studios was Eidos Montreal founder, Stephan D’Astous, who has had few positive things to say about Square Enix since he left the company in 2013.

“It was a train wreck in slow motion, to my eyes, anyway. It was predictable that the train was not going in a good direction,” D’Astous said of the relationship.

In an interview (via, D’Astous explained why it was that Eidos sought out a partnership with Square Enix in the first place. He believed that, while Eidos made some incredibly games with amazing IPs, such as Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Hitman, the company never knew how to properly market its games.

“You could look at all the great games that Eidos did, and — apart from Tomb Raider back then, that was a whole different era — the Hitmans and all those could have been a six, seven, eight-million unit projects. Deus Ex could have been that also,” the former Eidos boss said. “We hit good numbers, don’t get me wrong, but I always felt that the way to sell games that Eidos used were so traditional and conventional. That it wasn’t innovative. And it was always underselling the quality of the games.”

By the time that Square Enix stepped in to purchase Eidos, D’Astous was enthusiastic about the purchase because with Eidos working on stellar titles and Square Enix there to help market and publish the games, it seemed like a no-brainer that this partnership was built to last. Sadly that was not the case.

Square Enix has had a long history of labeling games that sell millions of units as failures. They did so with the Tomb Raider 2013 reboot, despite the fact that it had sold 3.4 million units in its first month, as well as with Sleeping Dogs, which is a cult favorite that has sold 1.75 million units in its first month. Despite their good sales numbers, Square Enix publicly lambasted these games, calling them financial failures.

This treatment of the western studios, according to D’Astous, would extend behind the scenes as well. One the examples that D’Astous gave was when he went to a meeting of all the studios under Square Enix to discuss the financial reports for the year. He was informed that Eidos Montreal was expected to make $65 million dollars in profit and instead Square Enix said that the studio lost $65 million in revenue.

“We were dumbfounded,” he says. “Especially because my studio didn’t have any deliverables for that year.” He went on to say that in annual fiscal reports, Square Enix would a leave the same message every time.

“We were disappointed with certain games. They didn’t reach expectations,” they reportedly said. D’Astous added, “If I read between the lines, Square Enix Japan was not as committed as we hoped initially.”

D’Astous left Eidos Montreal in 2013, while the Crystal Dynamics’ Darrel Gallagher left in 2015. Even in 2017 IO Interactive bought their freedom along with the Hitman IP after Square Enix announced they were looking to sell the studio.

This was a hard interview to get through because there is so much truth to found in D’Astous’ words. It has become common knowledge that Square Enix treated its western studios differently compared to its Japanese counterparts. They always appeared to avoid accountability for any of their missteps over the years. Hopefully these studios will be successful now that they are under Embracer Group.



Tyler was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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