The protection of intellectual property is governed differently in each country. Japan is a country that has setup an infrastructure to protect the rights of the IP creator and create an ecosystem to foster creativity within the country. In the last 10 years, the internet has drastically changed the landscape on how IP is governed and how brands are made and maintained. Adapting to new techniques, embracing new technology has given way to new brands to emerge, and making older ones obsolete.
Game Branding in particular has seen a huge shift in strategy, as millions of games are released every year now due to the smartphone and all the free game development engines that are out in the market today. Traditionally, Publishers and game developers would build a marketing campaign that is centralized around one major event (E3, Tokyo Game show, GDC, etc etc) and in hopes that media will take it as far as it can go. Social media pretty much broke this system. Whether it be, information getting leaked, the on demand state of mind, forums, blogs, local media, etc, this has empowered the users get information at real time, whether true or false, and take the information for whatever its worth and make their own conclusion with the information they have digested.
In 2014, Square Enix chose to do something completely radical that no other Japanese company was doing at the time and decided to license out their 2 famous IP’s Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy to any and every mobile developer that was interested in releasing a game with their IP.
This strategy proved effective. In the fiscal year ending 2015, (which ends 2016 of March), Square Enix has managed to break their record sales in which they reported earnings of over 221 Billion Yen, which is roughly around $2.1 Billion. In that time, Square Enix had more than 20 different Final Fantasy available in the app store.
If you search the app store for Final Fantasy, the most notable ones are listed before:
Final Fantasy Record Keeper
Final Fantasy Legends
Final Fantasy Dimensions
Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
Most of the Final Fantasy Console Ports
Mobius Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy Grand Masters
Final Fantasy the After years
Final Fantasy Agito
That’s a lot of final fantasy titles, and just 2015 alone 4 different Final Fantasy from different developers were released.
What this is telling you is that, today’s users don’t mind more content. We live in an age of information overload and a time where each individual feels empowered to create their own filters and pick and choose which version of Final Fantasy they feels most suits their game play style. Whether good or bad for this industry, Square Enix has definitely bucked the trend.
This $2.1 Billion revenue explosion superceded their previous highest revenue grossing year at $1.8 Billion earnings they experienced in 2010. This was when they released the critically acclaimed Final Fantasy XIII, which sold over 12 million copies world wide.
This new line of branding technique has proven to be effective and Namco Bandai, another IP giant in Japan, in March of 2015, announced that they will be opening up their IP library to all Japanese Developers that are interested.