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Top ‘Dragon Quest’ Producer Steps Down in Square Enix Overhaul

(Bloomberg) -- The top producer of Square Enix Holdings Co.’s flagship Dragon Quest franchise is stepping down from the role, people familiar with the matter said, following delays in developing the next installment of the popular series.

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Yu Miyake, a director of the board who long oversaw the role-playing franchise, is moving to head up the Tokyo-based company’s smartphone games, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing nonpublic information. Miyake, 56, has been behind numerous Dragon Quest titles since he joined the company in 1992.

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Shares of Square Enix rose as much as 1.3%, reversing losses earlier on Friday, to close up 0.9%.

The move is part of a large-scale reorganization that took effect on Monday, the people said. Square Enix is overhauling its game development pipeline under new President Takashi Kiryu, 48, who’s vowed to reverse flagging sales of both big-budget console games and smaller mobile titles. He told investors in February that the new structure will help the company rely less on external resources and focus more on in-house triple-A games.

Yosuke Saito, 53, who’s best known for his role in developing the hit NieR games, is a strong candidate to take the helm of Dragon Quest production, some of the people said.

A Square Enix spokesperson declined to comment.

“There were doubts that this management reshuffle was really happening,” Toyo Securities analyst Hideki Yasuda said. “The news shows that structural reforms are proceeding as planned and gives investors confidence.”

The franchise, which has a large following in Japan, features artwork by the late Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. The most recent title in the series was released seven years ago, but no date has been set for the launch of the next iteration, Dragon Quest 12, teased to fans in 2021.

Since becoming president last year, Kiryu has streamlined game production by shutting down many unannounced projects and placing checks on producers’ influence, the people said.

The company has promoted a new group of creators, including Naoki Hamaguchi, Tomoya Asano and Takeshi Nozue, appointing them to executive officers on Monday. The company plans to announce its midterm strategy plan in May.

(Updates with share price reaction and analyst comment from third paragraph)

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