Yoichi Wada is a controversial figure in the video game industry. Many that know him or have followed his career closely claim that he’s a very competent executive, and Final Fantasy XIV fans have seen his friendly gamer side as “Housing Ojisan” (Uncle Housing) during the Letter from the Producer Live streams. On the other hand many blame in for the recent streak of arguable failures that hit Square Enix.
That’s why his resignation as President and Representative Director of Square Enix was hailed by many with joy and by some with a bit of melancholy.
Yesterday the company held the stock holders’ meeting that marked the succession with the new President and Representative Director Yosuke Matsuda, and while many expected Wada-san to disappear on the Sunset Boulevard, he hasn’t gone far, as we can see on the updated list of corporate officers.
Housing Ojisan is still there. While he’s not the president anymore, he’s now the Chairman of the Board of Directors, which is still a very influential role within the company. Looks like those that cheered and laughed at the idea of his departure will now be disappointed.
Personally, I’m sure Wada-san isn’t blameless, but it’s hard not to appreciate his staunch support of the idea of completely rebuilding Final Fantasy XIV from scratch and creating A Realm Reborn. Many other executives would have just fired most of the team, turned the game into a free to play half-baked and half-functioning wasteland in maintenance mode and called it a day.
On the other hand Wada-san did the opposite: he put the right man for the job (Naoki Yoshida) in charge, gave him a proper team by hiring more developers and reshuffling others, pumped more money into the job even against what many others would define common sense, and nurtured the endangered MMORPG to the brink of its rebirth, trying to give the fans the game they wanted and deserved to begin with. Some may chalk that to cold corporate calculation, and they might very well be right (at least partly), but the fact that he took and stubbornly supported the right path to give us the game Final Fantasy XIV should have been from the very beginning remains and is undeniable.
I previously vent on record stating that the appointment of Matsuda-san was a sign of continuity and not of a revolution like many expected, and the appointment of Wada-san as chairman of the board proves that point. Besides, it’s only right for him to see the rebirth of the game he supported from an executive position.
Now only one question remains: will we see him in an upcoming Letter from the Producer Live. We need to see more housing artwork, Housing Ojisan!