The chances for a Square Enix acquisition are rising, and Sony looks to be on the shortlist as a potential buyer. On a conference call, the developer revealed that it’s looking to sell stakes in its studios, with David Gibson, a Senior Analyst at MST Financial, expecting that companies like “Sony, Tencent, [and] Nexon” are interested in a purchase.
The likelihood of a Sony Square Enix acquisition
7) Phase 2 = So SE is looking to sell stakes in its studios to others to improve capital efficiency. Right when others like Sony etc are buyers. I would expect Sony, Tencent, Nexon etc would be interested.
— David Gibson (@gibbogame) August 5, 2022
As suggested by Gibson in the tweet posted above, Square Enix’s restructuring and diversification of studio capital is a way for the company to look more appealing to buyers. Earlier in the thread, he notes that the sale of Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal “was driven by concerns that the titles cannibalized sales of the rest of the group,” at least in the words of Square Enix.
To put this into context, Eidos Montreal founder Stephane D’Astous revealed in an interview in late July that he “heard rumors that Sony said they’re really interested in Square Enix Tokyo, but not the rest.” This would explain why his studio, along with Square Enix Montreal and Crystal Dynamics, were sold off in what D’Astous describes as a “garage sale.” This would fall in line with earlier rumors from various insiders like Jeff Grubb of a Sony Square Enix acquisition. Like a formal courtship, Square Enix is clearly making the appropriate financial moves to entice companies like Sony.
The existing relationship between Square Enix and Sony not only makes the acquisition more believable, but also more likely when compared to Nexon and Tencent. The Final Fantasy VII Remake trilogy is still holding as a PlayStation console exclusive, and Forspoken will be a timed-exclusive deal that could last up to two years. Final Fantasy 16, which is set to release in 2023, is also a PS5 exclusive. Acquiring Square Enix would considerably bolster the PlayStation Plus catalog at all tiers as well, in competition with Xbox Game Pass.
In other news, Sony has acquired leading anime store Right Stuf, and Beyond Good and Evil 2 is getting a new lead writer.