Square-Enix: Why They Have Faltered
The creators of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest (and many other titles) have been having a rough time as of late. Many fans and critics have been clamoring for Square-Enix (SE) to return to their former glory. Most of this is to do with the Final Fantasy series and specifically, Final Fantasy XIII and all its sequels. Truth be told, aside from FFXIII, SE have been pretty decent with offerings such as The World Ends With You, Final Fantasy Type-0 and publishing various well received titles too such as Sleeping Dogs. So, what’s with all the criticism? It boils down to a few things that we’ll cover in this article.
4) Expanding Final Fantasy XIII
I’m not one of the vocal haters of FFXIII or FFXIII-2, however I can still appreciate that the games are weak entries into the main series. There’s probably a good amount of unreasonable hate lathered onto the game by those that probably wouldn’t accept anything other than a FFVII or FFVI clone though. Nevertheless, the Final Fantasy series has always been known to produce new stories and new settings instead of returning to old faces and places. In this case, I too would be more excited for a whole new Final Fantasy game than the upcoming FFXIII sequel, Lightning Returns. Unfortunately for SE, the story and characters within the FFXIII universe just don’t hold up well. That’s the major reason people aren’t excited for another FFXIII game.
3) MMORPG Focus
Let’s face it, FFXIV is/was a major disaster. A disheveled game not fit for release that is constantly eating up resources at SE while they try to get it to re-launch. Why an MMORPG? Because of the huge success of World of Warcraft of course, and because FFXI was a small but significant success to SE too. As such, expect SE to pour a lot of effort into making MMORPGs not just now, but in the future too. Currently, because of the amount of work needed to bring FFXIV up to par, a lot of other projects suffer. The most obvious would be Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Even when FFXIV gets its second release, there will still need to be a contant flow of resource into the game, such is the way of MMOs. It’s an annoying fact when most FF fans prefer the solo RPG experience. It’s sad to say this, but I expect the MMORPG craze to stick around for a while.
2) Games Remaining Unlocalized
The anger of some FF fans would probably be alleviated slightly if SE localized more of their games. With the high praise that games like FF Type-0 and Bravely Default get, fans are annoyed that SE can’t provide these games to western audiences. It seems rather obvious that the good press those games get would mean good sales, but for one reason or another, SE choose to focus on games the western audience has grown tired of (mainly FFXIII and FFXIV). Would it be such a hassle to localize these games? Fans don’t think so, and it isn’t good business on SE’s part to increase the anger of fans by holding back on quality games while dishing out less anticipated ones.
1) Business Before Games
This may sound weird, but SE are of course a business looking to make a profit. Where possible, they will want to put in the least amount of effort for maximum reward. Case in point, Final Fantasy: All The Bravest. That game has been getting terrible reviews practically everywhere. It’s a quick cash-in on SE’s part utilizing the FF brand and its beloved characters. When gamers see quality like this, their faith in SE will diminish especially when you take into account all the other points I’ve listed. The other example we have of SE putting business before games is where SE make a lot of game announcements but don’t actually plan to release those games anytime soon. Case in point, Final Fantasy Versus XIII. SE want to announce as many games as possible so that shareholders know that the future holds something and so that fans get hyped. However, this can easily backfire as it has now with many people seemingly disinterested in FFvsXIII. The same can also be said of the FFX HD Remake. Announced in 2011, SE have yet to make further statements on that game. Again, it looks like SE are just announcing a game to build up hype, without really an inclination of releasing it soon. This sort of thing aggravates gamers, and at the end of the day, in the gaming business, annoying fans/gamers is terrible business. Hopefully SE takes note.