How they didn’t learn their lesson after the first game is still a mystery.
We can’t say for sure what exactly Square-Enix will be announcing tomorrow, aside from knowing that it’s part of the “Lightning Saga”. So it could be FFXIII-3, FFXIII: Social Ops, or even FFX-3 (and for the love of Cthulhu, let us all pray that never comes to pass. Hail Cthulhu). But really, whatever the big Square-Enix decides, one can’t deny that more things have been going wrong since they’ve embarked on the saga formerly known Fabula Nova Crystallis. Obviously there will be Lightning fans here, and maybe some FFXIII fans – I kill myself, I know – but this isn’t about the unannounced project to the controversial series.
A series that’s taken everything about Final Fantasy and contorted it to center around this one woman and this one battle system, without any scope for anything that doesn’t involve beautiful cut-scenes and battles interlaced with QTEs and plot points.
No, this is simply about the fact that Square-Enix just can’t do this any more.
It can’t focus resources on projects like Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, devoting over 300 staff members to it while interesting efforts from designers we trust like Tetsuya Nomura’s Final Fantasy Versus XIII remain development limbo. It can’t decide to put out yet another Final Fantasy XIII when gamers are already frustrated with the series and want to move past it (keep in mind that FFXIII-2 hasn’t been as successful as previous series entries). It can’t delay dream projects like the inevitable Final Fantasy VII remake in favour of giving the so-called Goddess another run with the ball and making extra sure she doesn’t drop it this time.
Then again, this is not the same Square that we’ve known. When it merged with Enix, what did we get out of the deal at first? Unlimited SaGa. This was quickly followed by the ho-hum but still sold Grandia 3, before Nomura (remember that guy?) pulled through yet again with Kingdom Hearts 2, Dissidia and The World Ends With You. From there, it’s been a complete dearth of creativity and marketing plans.
When Final Fantasy XI couldn’t establish the franchise as a veritable MMORPG for the West, what could possibly make Square-Enix conclude that Final Fantasy XIV will do so now? FFXIV currently has 30K concurrent users on PC – Guild Wars 2 launched with over 400K concurrent users, and let’s not even get into World of Warcraft, with the Mists of Pandaria expansion pack on its way. Square-Enix has actually been focussing a lot more on the West, especially in publishing efforts. It picked up True Crime: Hong Kong and had it rebranded as Sleeping Dogs, bought Eidos and became the publisher for series like Tomb Raider and Hitman. And make no mistake these have all brought good will to the company.
But this is about Square-Enix’s premier franchise. This is about the series that made the company, that saved it from declaring bankruptcy. If Square-Enix is so desperate to ruin the decades of good will it’s built up, then it’ll continue on its current path. Heck it’s been doing so for a while now. There hasn’t been another film like Advent Children. Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance feels like it’s arrived way too late, despite being a stellar effort.
We’re still in a world where Duke Nukem Forever has been released but Final Fantasy Versus XIII is looking to share the same fate. There’s been no news on Kingdom Hearts 3, or even a new Grandia, or heaven forbid Xenogears. This isn’t to say Square-Enix doesn’t care about gamers – it’s just grossly misreading its current situation if it thinks it can devote time and resources to projects few people will be supporting upon their release.