In what seems like tragic news for gamers, Sony shocked everyone yesterday by revealing that they plan to sell off ALL of their stock in Square Enix, the company behind the Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest franchises.
Sony has owned somewhere around 9.5 million Square Enix shares for the past decade, making it the companies third-largest shareholder, but as part of the reveal Sony will be selling them to a global firm called SMBC Nikko Securities.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the stock will book a Y4.8 billion (nearly US$47 million) one-off profit for the upcoming fiscal quarter ending in June. The biggest shock is that the expected sale price is significantly lower than the Y16 billion (close to US$157 million) that the shares are currently worth,which seems to indicate that Sony is simply trying to get rid of them.
So what is the cause of this? Nobody is for sure, but if you are looking at the clues it is easy to speculate. Nearly 10 years ago, Square nearly bankrupted themselves with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Sony went out of their way to make sure that didn’t happen, which turned out meant them buying a majority share of the company (see above where they currently own about 1/3rd of Square Enix Stock).
For a time this meant Square Enix was making a TON of PlayStation exclusives. But something changed. Despite Sony still have a majority share in the company, Square Enix started making games for just about everyone. But the biggest problem with that was that some of these games were properties that were held by Sony (looking at you Kingdom Hearts).
For many, the final nail on this coffin was Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV. While many would argue this, both titles were at one point PlayStation exclusives. While speculating about the politics of whatever deal was made would get us nowhere, the fact of the matter is that Square Enix started making games that were made solely for PlayStation and started putting them on Xbox. Games like Tomb Raider, and the aforementioned Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy franchises.
Whatever the real reason, this does not bode well for Square Enix, at least from a fan perspective. Since Square’s merger with Enix, many have claimed that the company has lost sight of what made them great, and this could just be another indication that they don’t know what their doing anymore leaving Sony, one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, to cut their losses and run.