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Square Enix Shareholders Question Use of Sweet Baby Inc. Amidst Gamer Backlash

Square Enix, a once major player in the gaming industry, has not been doing so hot recently (financially). They now face more scrutiny from shareholders regarding its business relationship with Sweet Baby Inc., a consultancy firm focused on promoting inclusion and representation in video games.

This reflects growing concerns within many in the gaming community about the influence of such consultancies on game development... and if they're even necessary. It seems like there is more and more of a direct link between usage of Sweet Baby Inc, and a game's ultimate demise.

Sweet Baby Inc., led by CEO Kim Belair, uses the guise of "advocacy of inclusive practices in the gaming industry", but employs people like Chris Kindred who contacted where I have worked in an attempt to get me fired for reporting on them... Oh and I reached out to SBI about what they plan on doing to reprimand Chris, and as of this writing, I have still not heard back. Big shock.


During a 2019 Game Developers Conference presentation, Belair emphasized the importance of these values and suggested that developers should pressure higher-ups by highlighting potential negative consequences if inclusive practices are not adopted. Belair argued that both ethical and financial benefits could be derived from these changes.

However, Belair's controversial remarks about white male gamers have sparked even bigger backlash. She described this demographic as resistant to change and likened them to "picky babies," criticizing the industry for catering predominantly to them and thereby stifling innovation. According to Belair, this narrow focus hinders the industry's ability to reflect the evolving demographics of its audience.

This controversy has led to the creation of a Steam Curator list titled "Sweet Baby Inc. detected" by Kabrutus, which effectively serves as a boycott list for games associated with Sweet Baby Inc. The list, which has amassed over 404,000 followers, is now the second largest curator list on Steam. It includes recommendations of games that do not promote what critics describe as "wokeness," as well as games that do but were not consulted on by Sweet Baby Inc.


Amidst this growing tension, a Square Enix shareholder raised concerns during a recent report about the company's relationship with Sweet Baby Inc. The shareholder expressed satisfaction with Square Enix's shift from quantity to quality in their game releases but questioned the nature and future of the transaction with the consultancy.

The shareholder asked, via Google Translate:

”I’m personally happy about the shift from quantity to quality. I hope good titles will come out in the future. I’m concerned about the Canadian consulting company “SweetBaby.” Square Enix is ​​listed as a client, but is there actually a transaction there? What kind of transaction is it? Will they continue to do so in the future?”

Square Enix President Takashi Kiryu responded cautiously, stating via Google Translate:

“I would like to refrain from making specific comments about individual clients. As we shift from quantity to quality, providing content that is enjoyable and safe for our customers is also part of what makes a product fun. We will do our best as creators.”

This questioning comes in wake of Square Enix’s previous collaboration with another consultancy group, Black Girl Gamers, on the game Forspoken. The game was poorly received and led to the closure of its developer, Luminous Productions.

Despite some positive feedback on the game's action features, its sales were disappointing. In February 2023, Square Enix Representative Director Yosuke Matsuda acknowledged the game's poor performance and noted the significant financial risk it posed to the company's earnings.

As Square Enix navigates these complex relationships and the shifting landscape of the gaming industry, the company faces the challenge of balancing inclusive practices with the demands and expectations of its diverse gamer base.

The scrutiny from shareholders and the broader gaming community highlights the delicate path forward for game developers aiming to innovate while maintaining broad appeal... But as for Sweet Baby Inc? It feels like their time is running out.


~Smash


Big Thanks to ThatParkPlace for the heads-up!

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4 Comments


obscurity
obscurity
Jul 09

SE is one of my favorite studios. Final Fantasy, Nier Automata, etc. are absolutely amazing IPs. It worries me that SE is even affiliated with SBI, let alone actively working with them. If SE is smart, they will cut all ties with SBI, BGG, etc. effective immediately.

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What do they mean by content that is safe that's what they doing now by making it bland and uninteresting and always trying not to offend anyone by hiring consultants

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Replying to

There trying to be very careful with their wording because any wrong words and they'd have the cancel culture mob after their butts

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It's good to see one of the Shareholders finally coming to their senses and choosing to question the validity of the Shady wrong doings that are being acted upon through them & onto these Garbage consultation companies that are literally breaking laws with their bad actions and I do hope that more Shareholders start to wake up and realize WTF they have been doing wrong because if they don't change course,then I could seriously see many individuals choosing to sue the fuck out of them and contracts being cancelled,which would lead to No revenue at allwhich would also lead to them becoming Broke as Fuck

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