IMHO: Expecting Circles from Square
Since E3 2012, I’ve noticed much more Square Enix hate than usual. With the likely cancellation of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Twitter and forums are blowing up with statements like “Square Enix is incapable of making a good business decisions,” or, “Square Enix needs to close its doors and live on in my heart.”
Since Final Fantasy XI, many fans felt betrayed and wanted nothing more than to see Square Enix fold. And any time a game does not fill 100% of someone’s expectations, he hops online and uses it as proof that Square Enix will not exist within the year.
But as I look at the company and discuss it with others, Square Enix is as strong as ever with a diverse offering of games and strong franchises. The expectations for Square Enix would be considered unfair for any other publisher.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand. Square Enix is not going anywhere, and to call them down and out proves that people refuse to look at the incredible promise of upcoming titles and the strong games available now. I stand on the side of Square Enix.
Most people judge every Square Enix movement by two of their three longest-running franchises: Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts (by the way, Dragon Quest is the third). And if one of the games delivers a less-than-fantastic game, haters claim that this is the final nail in the coffin.
While I do not follow the Kingdom Hearts franchise, I know that it has a highly loyal can base, even buying the games that are considered terrible. It’s a franchise that will never have to explore a “third” major release because the franchise has lived well in the expansions with Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] as the most recent and highly anticipated release to date.
Next, Final Fantasy continues to win and lose fans with each release. As one of the key franchises that turned me into a Gamer, I have followed this franchise more closely. Granted, the last Roman numeral game I purchased was Final Fantasy XII, which was a little too much for me to get into.
New games, like Dissidia Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy XIII, win sales and fans, even with the flaws. Sure, some titles fall short of expectations, like Final Fantasy XIV, but that doesn’t stop Square Enix from trying. In fact, the most recent MMORPG has received more support than any other failure in gaming history. On top of the new titles making money, retro fans get remakes and re-releases with titles like Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Final Fantasy IV and the upcoming Final Fantasy X HD.
On top of that, Square Enix delivers what fans want and experiments with new ideas. Final Fantasy XIII-2 excited fans with the necessary gameplay improvements and continued story. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy brought all of the best music from the franchise for a rhythm-based game.
Sure, Final Fantasy Versus XIII may never see the light of day, but fans have no reason to complete about the state of the franchise for Square Enix’s most famous series.
The Genuine Failures
Admittedly, not all is well with Square Enix. Like other publishers, not every game turns out to be a success. However, some of Square Enix’s failures were so embarrassing, many fans, like me, would rather forget these games.
The premise was interesting. The player would possess and hack enemies and other characters to get a better position and complete stages. Unfortunately, the story was shallow and the gameplay was nearly broken and clumsy.
Mario meets Dragons Quest in this Mario Party-like game. Players followed Monopoly-style rules for this digital board game. The concept was solid, but most people would play this game with friends, rather than play the single player. But, the game would not unlock new characters or boards unless the single-player boards were beaten. This game missed a huge opportunity for local multiplayer, and with that being the most important element of the game, it become a flop.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days:
This game received mixed reviews, and as far as a failure, it’s one that Square Enix can’t feel too bad about. The game sold well and offered solid multiplayer. Some of the artistic decisions were questionable, and many complained about the short campaign. The biggest failure of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days was legal trouble in Beijing, where the producers were sued for vilifying the Chinese People.
If any other publishers were judged by their failures or their weak releases, people would claim that major companies like Activision Blizzard or Ubisoft would be ready to close their doors.
When Activision announced it would no longer release Guitar Hero games, it lost one of its biggest money makers, next to Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. However, when the news dropped, no one claimed that Activision was on its way out.
Likewise, Ubisoft released Rayman Origins on the same day as Assassin’s Creed Revelations. The family-friendly platformer saw mediocre sales, and last December, many writers pined for the death of the Rayman franchise. Now, Ubisoft is showing off a promising sequel for the Wii U. Just because one game did not see fantastic sales doesn’t mean Ubisoft will abandon the franchise and shut its doors for good.
When another company puts out a game that falls flat, people rail against the game. When Square Enix puts out a bad game, people are convinced that the producer is ready to close down.
Not even THQ, a company in real danger of shutting down, gets this kind of criticism from the internet.
While the main franchises are hit or miss with fans, Square Enix has been able to secure strong showings with great games and Japanese publishing of major Western franchises, like Batman and Call of Duty. In the past five years, Square Enix has produced some major games for every platform and many genres.
Fans loved the new titles, like The World Ends with You or the free-to-play MMORPG Wakfu, but Square Enix was able to secure other franchises to deliver fan-loved franchises. Just Cause 2 deliverd great, fast-paced open-world gameplay, and many gamers loved the options and ideas presented in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Most recently, titles like Quantum Conundrum, Heroes of Ruin, and Sleeping Dogs delivered strong mechanics with mixed reviews.
Square Enix is able to breathe new life into Final Fantasy VII with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Also, the long running Dragon Quest series has seen a comfortable life on the Nintendo DS with Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies delivering new multiplayer and gameplay features to the old series. On top of that, Square Enix continues to profit on nostalgia with new launches of Chrono Trigger on multiple platforms.
Players can look forward to strong showings from Square Enix with rebooted franchises. Hitman: Absolution continues to tell the story of the best assassin in gaming by offering new multiplayer mechanics and strong graphical prowess. Tomb Raider shows a young, more realistic Lara Croft as she learns the extent of her killing skills. Both titles promise to deliver strong sales to the publisher.
The Line Has Been Drawn
I hardly consider myself a fanboy for Square Enix, but it’s time to start picking sides. For those who continue to claim that Square Enix will collapse, I want to know their evidence. For those who believe Square Enix needs to change its strategy, I want to know where it should go. For those who stand by Square Enix and declare it the best publisher, I want to know why its failures should be ignored.
Leave your thoughts about Square Enix below. If I’m wrong, prove it. I can accept differing opinions. Agree or disagree, post a comment.
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