This article is from the Final-Fantasy and other Square Soft Games FAQ, by email@example.com (Nick Zitzmann) with numerous contributions by others.
This may seem like a ridiculous question, but it was a very true concern
back in 1996, when Square's US offices mysteriously closed down.
Truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction - Square Co. Ltd totally
reorganized their offices in the USA. Here's a summary of what happened:
Around October/November 1995, Square opened a new office in the Los
Angeles area, known as "Square LA". The purpose of the Square LA office
was (and still is) to work on high-end graphics for future Square games.
Square LA demonstrated their expertise in CG (computer graphics) by
creating a small demo on Silicon Graphics workstations. This demo
featured characters from Final Fantasy VI, and was completely animated
in 3D. Most people, including Nintendo Power magazine, assumed that
Square was showing off what could be a future Nintendo 64 title.
In early 1996, Square Soft (in Redmond, WA) released Secret of Evermore,
which along with Rad Racer II, was a game they had actually produced
themselves. (Previous games were all produced by Square Co. Ltd in
Japan, and released in the USA by Square Soft.) Shortly afterward, the
Japanese mothership shut down the Redmond division. At the same time,
Square Co. Ltd announced Final Fantasy VII - exclusively for the Sony
This set sort of a panic on Final Fantasy fans in the USA. Although FF
VII would not be released for some time now, the question remained:
Would it be released in the USA? Square Soft had been shut down, and
Square LA was not equipped to port Japanese games. No one knew if the
title would be released in the USA or not. Moreover, what happened to
Nintendo? Square shocked the gaming world by abandoning Nintendo and
signing on with Sony. Some people had thought that this move was a
mistake. Some people still do.
Then, Sony Computer Entertainment America got involved: They published
FF VII in Japan, and reported that FF VII would be released in the USA.
They had yet to decide if it should be "modified" from the Japanese
version, but strong user feedback made Sony release the game uncut - for
the very first time - in the USA. (The first Square PlayStation game
released in the USA was Tobal #1, which contained a demo disc of FF
Later on, Square Co. Ltd opened up a second Square Soft, located nearby
Square LA. They also set up a second CG shop, located in Honolulu. Thus,
"Square LA" became "Square USA, LA Division" and the Honolulu office
became the Honolulu division of Square USA. Square Soft's name remained
So, what happened to the original Square Soft? The employees either
moved to what was then Square LA, or they joined a new company, known as
"Big Rain". (Big Rain was founded by Ted Woolsey, the same person who
brought FF VI and Chrono Trigger to the USA.) Big Rain changed its name
to "Craveyard" at the end of 1997, and joined up with another company,
called "Crave Entertainment." After their one game, "Shadow Madness,"
tanked in US game stores, Craveyard is most likely no longer around.
According to GameSpot, Ted Woolsey isn't involved in games anymore.
But ever since Tomoyuki Takechi stepped down as Square's president in
early 2001, analysts are getting a little worried about Square again.
Square has spun off three other development groups (Sacnoth,
MonolithSoft, and Brownie Brown), spent over $100 million on the Final
Fantasy movie (and got a small fraction of that amount back in box
office revenue), and meanwhile watched as Final Fantasy IX sold less
copies than Final Fantasy VIII. Time will tell if they can recover.