The Eidansha Boshu Service Center was founded on September 22nd, 1975 by Yasuhiro Fukushima. In August 1982, the name of the company was changed to Enix Corporation, a combination of the word phoenix, and "ENIAC", the world's first supercomputer.
Enix entered the gaming industry in 1982 by holding a personal computer game programming competition, the "First Game Hobby Program Contest" was used as a way to attract game development talent to the company. After only receiving a handful of entried in the first month of the competition, Enix launched a massive marketing campaign to ensure the public that the prize, one million yes, was in fact real. Over three hundred entries were received by Enix, and thirteen winners were chosen.
The thirteen winning titles were...
- Marita no Battle Field
- Door Door
- Guest Mariko Hashimoto
- Cosmic Soldier
- D.I.S Airport
- Seiko's Adventure
- Underground Monster
- Bacteria Escape
- Love Match Tennis
- Boso! Orient Kyuko
- Piranha-kun no Isshukan
- Poker Extra
One of the winners of the competition was Yuji Horii, whose entry, titled Love Match Tennis, became one of the first releases for Enix. Another game that won the competition was Door Door, a puzzle title created by Koichi Nakamura. Door Door became the first success for Enix, later being ported to the Famicom. The contest gave Enix a varied library of titles, which were polished and released in February 1983. By the end of that year, five of the top ten selling games in Japan were Enix titles. The most successful titles would later be ported to the Famicom, along side Door Door.
Instead of developing games in-house, Enix chose to follow a model of outsourcing the development of their titles to outside developers, paying them in royalties, and then publishing and marketing the titles under their brand. This was a new practice for its time, and was seen as a way to control the costs of making a game. Yashuhiro Fukushima believed that games should be treated like movies and books, from a business standpoint. If a game sold better, the developer was paid more.
Throughout the early 1980's, Enix would hold two more game development contests, and continually hired staff on a per project basis.
Yuji Horii developed a love for fantasy titles in 1983, seeing Wizardry for the first time at AppleFest '83, while on his prize vacation for winning the game development competition sponsored by Enix.
In 1985, Yuji Horii worked in collaboration with fellow contest winner Koiich Nakamura to bring his PC game Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken to the Famicom. This would be the first time these two developers would work together on a project.
The game would capture the attention of music composer Koichi Sugiyama. Impressed with the the game, Sugiyama sent a handwritten postcard to the office of Enix, bringing shock to the staff. Already a celebrity in Japan, Sugiyama showed a love and knowledge for video gaming, one that would leave an impact and grant him employment with Enix.
Horii, Nakamura, and Yukinobu Chida formed the core team at Chunsoft that started to create a role playing game in 1985. Taking elements from from the Wizardry and Ultima titles, Horii looked for ways to simplify the game, not wanting the player to depend on Dungeons and Dragons concepts that the two US based RPG's take from. The story would be simple, a hero fighting a great evil that would threaten the land. Once the framework was in place, Enix tasked Sugiyama to create the soundtrack for the title.
To differ the look of their game from other RPG's, the team commissioned manga artist, and creator of the Dragon Ball franchise, Akira Toriyama to design the characters, creatures, and box art.
The finished game would be called Dragon Quest, and was released on May 27, 1986. It is the first console role playing game.
With heavy advertising in Shonen Jump, Dragon Quest became a hude success, selling over a million copies on the Famicom in Japan. It would go on to become one of the most popular video game franchises in Japan. Enix would release seven entries to the Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest's II and III continue the story of the first, while IV, V, and VI are connected to each other. Dragon Quest VII is a standalone story, with no prequel or sequel.
Expansion into the console market
Throughout the 1980's, Enix continued to publish titles for home computers, and the Dragon Quest series. As the decade wound down, console gaming in Japan and North America exploded. Enix began to move their resources from publishing computer titles into console games at the end of the 1980's.
In 1990, Enix partnered with several console developers to start publishing titles for the Super Nintendo. This would begin an expansion into video game consoles, which up until now saw the Enix label on the Dragon Quest titles.
The first major partnership was with Japanese developer Quintet. Quintet developed, with Enix publishing, ActRaiser, the company's first title. The partnership would continue throught the early and mid 90's , leading to games like Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma.
Enix would also partner with tri-Ace in bringing Valkyrie Chronicles and the Star Ocean franchise to the Playstation system.
From 1990-2003, Enix would publish over 100 titles for major video game consoles and handhelds.
Ventures outside of video games
Enix expanded their brand outside of video games in the early 1990's.
In 1991, Enix partially funded the opening of the Digital Entertainment Acadamy Co., Ltd. The school was founded to teach game development, and is still funded to this day.
1991 also saw the creation of Gangan Comics, a monthly manga publication. Some of the manga to appear in the pages include Full Metal Alchemist, and manga based on Enix published games, like Dragon Quest and Star Ocean.
Merger with Square
In 2000, talk started to rise over the possible merger between Enix, and Square Co., Ltd, the creators of the Final Fantasy franchise.
The merger was delayed in 2001, when the Square funded movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within failed to make back its budget, leading to a heafty loss for Square.
After months of negotiation, it was announced on November 26th, 2002, that Enix and Square would be merging, the name of the new company Square Enix. The movie's loss put Square into massive debt which reduced the value of the company and lead to Enix gaining a controlling interest in the new company. The merger officially started on April 1st, 2003, with Enix head Yasuhiro Fukushima becoming Chairman of the newly formed company.