For Stephane D’Astous, the former head and general manager of Deus Ex developer Eidos Montreal, being sold off by Square Enix was “a trajectory that could be predicted.” Speaking to GameIndustry, D’Astous was blunt with his feelings on his time with Eidos under Square Enix, calling it “a train wreck in slow motion.”
Earlier this year, Square Enix sold off Eidos, along with Tomb Raider’s Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix Montreal, to Embracer Group for $300 million. At present, Crystal Dynamics is in active development on a new Tomb Raider, along with co-developing Perfect Dark for Microsoft.
D’Astous left Eidos in 2013 due to “lack of courage and communication” from Square Enix that affected his ability to do his job. He admitted to hoping that Square acquiring the studio in 2009 would change the studio and help Eidos sell its games. “We hit good numbers, don’t get me wrong,” said D’Astous. “But I always felt that the way to sell games that Eidos used were so traditional and conventional[…]And it was always underselling the quality of the games.”
Prior to his departure, D’Astous was present when Square Enix signed a multi-project deal with Marvel, which would become 2020’s Marvel’s Avengers and 2021’s Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Though both games garnered solid reviews, they underperformed commercially, which he partially chalks up to superhero fatigue. “Very few studios manage to be successful with superheroes. There’s always Batman from Rocksteady, and there was Spider-Man [from Insomniac]. But out of the people that have done it, the success rate of superhero games is not good.”
Games like Guardians and Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider reboot have been declared “disappointments” by Square Enix, and D’Astous confirmed Square would say this to its developers.
To him, Square Enix Japan lacked faith in its western studios, revealing that Square would often belittle those studios in its annual fiscal reports. “Square Enix Japan always added one or two phrases saying, ‘We were disappointed with certain games. They didn’t reach expectations,'” he said. “And they did that strictly for certain games that were done outside of Japan.”
The future is what Eidos makes of it
Even though his time with Square Enix wasn’t ideal, D’Astous isn’t ready to believe Eidos is out of the woods now that it’s with Embracer. Speaking of Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors, he hoped that Wingefors will help Eidos have a true vision of its future going forward.
“The plan has not been successful in the last decade. I don’t know why it would be successful for the next ten years, because they’re the same people, the same actors are there.” D’Astous concluded by saying that “If no changes are done, the train will continue to slow down.”