Square Enix has a rich history, which gives the publisher a lot of franchises and nostalgia to work with. Much like fellow 1980s gaming legend, Nintendo, the Japanese publisher taps into the emotions its fans feel for playing iconic titles from their childhood and introduce those titles to future generations. However, the company’s brand messaging strategy extends beyond recycled franchises, and it charts new territory into immersive gameplay, treating games as a service and even extending its brands into real world prosthetics.

Treasuring The Past, Embracing The Future

Tomb Raider celebrated its 20th anniversary last year with a multitude of events and releases including a survival training class, a Jeep giveaway, a specially composed music collection and concert, an art book and the Rise of the Tomb Raider 20th Anniversary Edition, which supports high-end hardware such as the PlayStation Pro and PlayStation VR. Not only has Square Enix rebooted the most iconic female video game character of all time, but it did it to critical acclaim and without abandoning the core of what made Lara Croft so beloved in the first place. With Rise of the Tomb Raider, fans can explore Croft Manor in virtual reality for the first time, but probably not the last. The game can also be played in its entirety using the PSVR’s theater mode, which creates a giant virtual 2D screen.

The publisher also took a big risk with a reboot for its Hitman series, released in episodic format, which transformed the game into a live, ongoing service. Developed by IO Interactive, the first season of Hitman just came to a close on January 31 with the launch of its retail game disc.


Also celebrating an anniversary this year is Square Enix’s magical mix of franchises, Kingdom Hearts. Combining characters from Final Fantasy, The World Ends With You and the Walt Disney universe, Kingdom Hearts turns 15 this March. As with many of the publisher’s flagship titles, this one comes with a large and loyal fan base from across the globe. Square Enix hosted a special exhibit and Kingdom Hearts clock giveaway at Tokyo Metro Marunochisen Shinjuku Station Promenade last month, getting fans even more excited about Kingdom Hearts III, which is currently in development.

Final Fantasy turns 30 this year, hot on the heels of its successful launch of Final Fantasy XV. A special event was held in Tokyo to kick off anniversary celebrations, including special DLC for the latest title, merchandise and an HD remake of Final Fantasy VII. This past fall, Square Enix invited game developers and fans to share how the franchise affected their lives using the hashtag, #FFLegacies. The Final Fantasy XV: New Legacy campaign culminated into a video that showcased these memories and ideas, while allowing a chosen few to preview the game for themselves and showing their reactions to the camera. “By having fans share their personal experience,” Square Enix says on the campaign website, “it serves as a reminder that much like how each Final Fantasy has a completely different story, world and characters, we all bring distinctive and new perspectives to the legacy that is Final Fantasy.”

Bringing Fantasy To Life

While the live-action trailer for Final Fantasy XV brought the series to life on screen, the publisher has teamed up with Open Bionics to make science fiction a reality. Inspired by its game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and prompted by consumer response to fictional advertisements, the publisher decided to develop a prosthetic arm inspired by the game’s main character, Adam Jensen. A prototype of the arm, controlled using the Razer Stargazer camera, was on display at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and San Diego Comic-Con to promote the game.

The real-life prosthetic was more than a publicity stunt, as the publisher teamed up with CNN’s Courageous Studio to host the Human By Design event last August. Livestreamed over Twitch, the event featured a number of experts and self-identifying cyborgs to create a forum for highlighting and discussing the real-life implications of cybernetic augmentation.

“Just sitting here today and listening to all these experts at Human by Design, and working with Deus Ex as long as I have, I can imagine that future, especially with prosthetics and the work the Open Bionics is doing,” Jon Grant, senior manager of product marketing at Square Enix told [a]listdaily at the event. “That future is closer than we think, and it might actually be here. If Deus Ex has a role in inspiring it, then I guess what they say about the franchise is true. We do have a way of predicting the future.”

By expanding its already massive Final Fantasy lore for future generations, remastering and retelling classic game stories, exploring fantasy worlds in VR or opening conversation about technological advances, Square Enix is creating a legacy for video game enthusiasts and beyond.