Square Enix Wants to Create a Digital Library of All Its Classic Titles
In an interview with Game Informer, Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda said the company is exploring various options for making all of its classic titles available digitally.
In fact, SE is already working on a dedicated internal project to port many classic titles to a variety of platforms. Beyond that, Matsuda mentioned SE is considering a subscription or download-exclusive service that would give players access to the entire library of classic Square Enix games, saying "I think everyone is going in that direction, so we do want to be proactive in considering those options."
However, NES games are Square Enix's particular focus right now, since, as Matsuda says, many other titles are currently still available in some form or another.
Which NES titles is another matter. Squaresoft's major NES titles, e.g. Final Fantasy I, II, and III, are available in multiple formats already, and the same goes for Enix's Dragon Quest games. It may be mobile availability is being excluded from these considerations, then.
There's also the challenge of dealing with code for older games — challenges such as the code being lost.
Rumors had been floating around for a long time about SE losing some of its original source codes, especially when it initially seemed like Final Fantasy VIII was the only PSX-era FF game not getting the modern port treatment.
Matsuda basically confirmed that scenario is true for many of its older games, saying that at the time, the dev teams never really thought about preserving code for future sales:
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but in some cases, we don't know where the code is anymore. It's very hard to find them sometimes, because back in the day you just made them and put them out there and you were done — you didn't think of how you were going to sell them down the road.
Still, there may be ways around that particular problem. Despite some believing the Junction and Draw systems should never see the light of day again, Final Fantasy VIII is finally getting the HD remaster treatment this fall.
In some cases, Matsuda said the team is actually able to recover lost code by pure serendipity, noting one instance where a developer who had left the company years previously had the code for a game still stored on his PC.
This news isn't altogether surprising, either. A few years ago, Matsuda told investors SE would be leveraging its classic IPs extensively in the future, and the company even made almost every FF soundtrack available for streaming recently as well. It certainly seems Square Enix is following through on its promises.