Is Sony looking to acquire Square-Enix? Maybe. Microsoft has been entangled in a legal struggle to acquire Activision-Blizzard since it announced its intent to purchase the company back on January 18, 2022. Since then, they have had to face a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), along with several international investigations, a couple of which, namely Europe and Japan, have given the green light to the sale.
Japan’s approval even triggered a response from the United States Government as 11 congressmen have requested that President Joe Biden and his administration begin an investigation on Sony’s practices in their attempts to block the sale of Activision-Blizzard to Microsoft.
Now, it appears that in the face of a losing battle, Sony has decided to make preparations to combat Microsoft should the eventual sale go through. Because as such, today, Jim Ryan announced Sony Interactive Entertainment’s intent to acquire Square-Enix.
It should be noted that an acquisition has not yet been made; however, discussions have already begun via telemeetings. Square-Enix’s President, Yosuke Matsuda, is scheduled to host Jim Ryan at their world headquarters in Shinjuku City, Tokyo, next week.
For a while now, Sony has had its eye on Square-Enix and, more notably, their Final Fantasy franchise… a franchise that had already become synonymous with the PlayStation since making the jump to the platform with 1997’s Final Fantasy VII, marking the end of an era where Final Fantasy games were found on Nintendo systems. While Final Fantasy games appear on multiple consoles now, if the acquisition were to go through, that may no longer be the case.
It is known that Jim Ryan has been quite skeptical of Phil Spencer’s offer to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for several more years. Spencer even called it an offer “that goes well beyond typical gaming industry agreements.” Of course, one of the main focal points of Spencer’s plan as head of Xbox is to bring gaming to as many markets and platforms as possible… even if those platforms are not Microsoft-owned.
Sony has taken the opposite stance. A few years back, crossplay became a heated discussion amongst the gaming community as Sony flat-out stated that they were against crossplay on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 systems, citing security reasons as a result.
Another point that could support Final Fantasy disappearing from non-Sony-branded consoles is that they typically favor holding exclusivity over their gaming franchises. Microsoft had even gone on record in November of last year and acknowledged that Sony has more exclusive games than Xbox does and that their exclusive titles are better in quality. As we know, Final Fantasy is a top-tier franchise, and keeping it exclusive to Sony PlayStation and its ecosystem would fit the mold of their current business models.
The move could also be seen as an answer to Microsoft’s rapid acquisition of gaming studios. It seemed that every year at E3, Microsoft announced more and more studios that they had acquired, and with them adding Activision-Blizzard to the growing pile, Sony could have felt heavily pressured to make a big move to stay in direct competition with their biggest rival.
Next week, we will know more after Jim Ryan and Yosuke Matsuda sit down and meet although early indications suggest that the deal could already be done and this meeting is just to hash out final numbers before legal gets involved to sort out rights and properties.