Square Enix says Forspoken sales have been lackluster, and many small and mid-sized titles "did not perform as well as we had expected"
Square Enix has released the Outline of Results Briefing held on February 3, 2023 [PDF], which reveals some insight on the publisher's takeaways regarding its recent slate of game releases.
The briefing primarily discusses the financial results for Q1-Q3 of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023, focusing on the most recent quarter of October through December 2022. However, given that the briefing itself took place a week after the release of Forspoken, Square Enix also makes comment about the recent RPG from the soon-defunct Luminous Productions.
On page 3 of the outline, while a specific title is not mentioned, Square Enix President Yosuke Matsuda (who will leave the position next Summer) stated the following about the slate of "small and mid-sized titles" that released in the current fiscal year.
Net sales declined YoY in the HD Games sub-segment, partly because the release of major titles a year earlier had created a challenging YoY hurdle, but also because many of the new small and mid-sized titles we launched this year did not perform as well as we had expected.
Square Enix released numerous RPGs at the tail end of 2022 that plausibly fit the 'small and mid-sized' description. No individual title is specified as an underperformer, but as a refresher, some (not all) of the RPGs that the publisher released in the timeframe include The DioField Chronicle, Star Ocean The Divine Force, Harvestella, Tactics Ogre: Reborn, Dragon Quest Treasures, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, and Valkyrie Elysium.
As for the more recent AAA release of Forspoken, on page 6 of the outline, Matsuda stated the following:
Reviews of “FORSPOKEN,” which we released on January 24, 2023, have been challenging. However, the game has also received positive feedback on its action features, including its parkour and combat capabilities, so it has yielded results that will lead to improvement of our development capabilities of other games in the future. That said, its sales have been lackluster, and while the performance of new titles with February and March release dates will be the ultimate determinant, we see considerable downside risk to our FY2023/3 earnings.
Since this briefing, Square Enix has released games like Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line and Octopath Traveler II. Perhaps those games will find the success that Square Enix is looking for.
Although, to top things off, Square Enix also hopes you "...look forward to the blockchain games we plan to launch in FY2024/3 and thereafter."