|Former type||Public (Defunct)|
|Fate||Merged with Enix|
|Defunct||April 1, 2003|
|Key people||Tomoyuki Takechi, Chairman
Yoichi Wada, President
Hironobu Sakaguchi, EVP
|Products||See complete products listing|
|Subsidiaries||See subsidiaries and related corporations|
Squaresoft was also a brand name used by Square between 1992 and 2003. As such, the name is often used (incorrectly) to refer to the entire organization, but the Japanese corporate name remained Square Co., Ltd. until the Enix merger.
Square was founded in Yokohama in September 1983 by Masafumi Miyamoto after he graduated from Waseda, one of Japan's top universities. Back then, Square was a computer game software division of Den-Yu-Sha, a power line construction company owned by Miyamoto's father. While at the time game development was usually conducted by only one programmer, Miyamoto believed that it would be more efficient to have graphic designers, programmers and professional story writers working together on common projects. Square's first two titles were The Death Trap and its sequel Will: The Death Trap II, both designed by part-time employee Hironobu Sakaguchi and released on the NEC PC-8801.
Despite an initial reluctance to develop for video game consoles, Square entered the Nintendo Famicom market in December 1985 with the porting of Thexder. In September 1986, Square spun off from Den-Yu-Sha and became an independent company officially named Square Co., Ltd. Sakaguchi then became a full-time employee as the Director of Planning and Development of the company. After releasing several unsuccessful games for the Famicom, Square relocated to Ueno, Tokyo in 1987 and developed a role-playing game titled Final Fantasy, inspired by Enix's success with the first Japanese game of the genre, Dragon Quest (later released in North America as Dragon Warrior). With 400,000 copies sold, Final Fantasy spawned multiple sequels over the years and became Square's main franchise.
Square has also made other widely known games such as Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3, Xenogears, Brave Fencer Musashi, Parasite Eve, Parasite Eve 2, Saga Frontier, Romancing Saga, Vagrant Story, Kingdom Hearts (done in collaboration with Disney Interactive), and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (done under the guidance of Shigeru Miyamoto).
Square was one of the many companies that had planned to develop and publish their games for the Nintendo 64, but with the cheaper costs associated with developing games on CDs for the Sony PlayStation, the games were instead made for PlayStation. Final Fantasy VII was one of these games, and it sold 9.8 million copies, making it the second best selling game for the Playstation.
A merger between Square and its competitor Enix was in consideration since at least 2000; however, the financial failure of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within made Enix hesitant to join with a company that loses money, and the merge was delayed until April 1, 2003, when the two companies finally merged to form Square Enix.
The Disk Original Group (DOG) was a union formed of no less than seven Japanese video game companies: Square Co., Ltd., Micro Cabin, Thinking Rabbit, Carry Lab, System Sacom, XTALSOFT, and HummingBirdSoft. Founded July 14, 1986, Square took the lead of this promising alliance to produce games on the Famicom Disk System. Because Square headed DOG, all DOG titles were published under the name Square. In reality, however, Square only produced a few of the eleven games published under the DOG label. In general, the games were commercial failures.
Escape, Inc. was established in 1998. They developed the racing game Driving Emotion Type-S.
Square Visual Works (CG studio), Square Sounds (sound studio), Squartz (quality assurance) and Square Next were all founded in June 1999. All were subsequently absorbed into Square Co., Ltd. in 2001 and 2002.
Quest Corporation was an independent software development studio established in July 1988, best known for the Ogre Battle series. Several team members, including Yasumi Matsuno, Hiroshi Minagawa and Akihiko Yoshida, left Quest in 1997 to join Square, where they worked on several titles for the Sony PlayStation, including Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story. In June 2002, Quest was purchased by Square.
The Game Designers Studio, Inc. (株式会社ゲームデザイナーズ・スタジオ kabushiki-gaisha geimudezainaazu sutajio ) was shell corporation founded by Square to create video games for the Nintendo GameCube, even though Square had an exclusive deal with Sony Computer Entertainment to create games only for PlayStation consoles. To evade that deal, Square held only 49 % of the shares while Akitoshi Kawazu, head of Square’s Product Development Division 2, held 51 %. The formation of a new company also made it possible to take advantage of Nintendo’s Q fund for new game developers who develop for GameCube. Game Designers Studio only released a single game, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was de facto developed by Square Enix’s Product Development Division 2. Publishing was done by Nintendo.
Square merged with Enix and formed Square Enix while Crystal Chronicles was in development. Square Enix later acquired 100 % of Game Designers Studio and renamed the new subsidiary to SQEX Corporation. After the takeover of Taito in 2005, Square Enix merged SQEX with Taito and renamed the new subsidiary to Taito Corporation in March 2006.
Square Soft, Inc. was established as the official North American subsidiary of Square in March 1989. It was responsible for both the production and distribution of North American localizations of Square titles during the 16-bit era, and continued to produce English language localizations of Square games in the 32-bit era. It has also been responsible for localizing a number of non-Square titles, including Capcom's Breath of Fire for the SNES and Sony's Wild ARMs 3 for the PlayStation 2. It developed the game Secret of Evermore for the SNES. It is currently known as Square Enix, Inc. Square Soft's original headquarters were in Redmond, Washington, where it distributed its now-dead newsletter, the Ogopogo Examiner, but it was relocated to Costa Mesa, California in August 1996, where it remained until late 2005; as of 2006, Square Enix, Inc. is now located in El Segundo, California.
Square USA, Inc. (originally Square L.A., Inc.) was established in August 1995. It operates as a high-end computer-generated imagery research and development studio, and has been integral in the production of graphics for Square-produced games since the beginning of the 32-bit era. Its headquarters are in Los Angeles, California and Honolulu, Hawaii. Like its sister company, Square Soft, Inc., Square USA was a wholly owned subsidiary of Square Co., Ltd.
Square Europe, Ltd. was established in December 1998 to localize and market Square-developed games in Europe and Australia. Located in London, England, Square Europe was granted exclusive publishing rights in Europe and other PAL territories for all interactive entertainment titles developed by Square.
Square Electronic Arts L.L.C., also known as Square EA, was a joint venture between console video game developers Square and Electronic Arts. Announced on April 27, 1998, Square EA was based in Costa Mesa, California and operated under the supervision of Square president and CEO Jun Iwasaki, and was responsible for publishing and marketing all games produced by Square in North America. Conversely, Electronic Arts Square, K.K., formed at the same time and based in Japan, was responsible for publishing and marketing games produced by Electronic Arts in Asia. Under the terms of the agreement, Electronic Arts owned 30 percent of Square EA, and Square owned 30 percent of EA Square.
Square EA proved to be very successful, and during its five years of existence released a higher proportion of localized Square titles to the American market than ever before. EA Square, on the other hand, was somewhat less successful, and struggled to make an impact on the Asian videogame market, which has been traditionally difficult for American game developers to break into. EA Square had also developed a game, X-Squad, which was released for the PlayStation 2 during its launch.
Following the announcement of the merger between Square and former competitor Enix in 2003, Square purchased back Electronic Arts' stake in Square EA, and folded it back into Square Soft, Inc., its North American subsidiary, which was subsequently renamed Square Enix U.S.A., Inc. (now Square Enix, Inc.) and continues to publish Square Enix's titles in North America.
Square Pictures, located in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a computer-animated film division of Square. In 1997, they began work on a feature CG film based on Final Fantasy. In addition there were rumors of movie adaptations of Transformers and EverQuest. In 2000, the film was revealed as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The movie was released on July 11, 2001, but was not met with critical acclaim or box-office success. Interestingly enough, the movie was such a failure, Square Pictures was disbanded shortly thereafter.
They also created a short film for the Wachowski brothers that was centered in the world of The Matrix, titled the Final Flight of the Osiris. The short featured photo realistic characters, just as The Spirits Within, performing acrobatic moves in action sequences. The film was shown in theaters alongside Dreamcatcher and was meant to set the stage for the two Matrix sequels. The short was released on DVD in June 3, 2003 as part of The Animatrix. Square Pictures is now a consolidated subsidiary of Square Enix.