: Editorial: What IS Square-Enix Doing?

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Editorial: What IS Square-Enix Doing?

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: I've been a fan of Square since the early days of Final Fantasy. They were one of the main reasons I adored the SNES and PS1 so much (to list all the titles would take too long), and while they didn't do so hot in the PS2 generation, I still got Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2 (shut up, it was better than most RPGs), Final Fantasy XII, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II and Star Ocean: 'Til the End of Time. So far this generation, I have nothing, but then again, I didn't expect anything just yet, and I have extremely high expectations for The Last Remnant, Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII Versus. But that hasn't been making the news lately; what has been making the news is Square-Enix's new resolve to appeal to the Western gamer.

At first, I understood the philosophy. Squaresoft and Square-Enix have always made games designed for a certain type of hardcore player and RPG fan, and that appeals - first and foremost - to the Japanese sense of taste. For the most part, they really didn't have a blockbuster presence in Western territories unless the title of their game had "Final Fantasy" somewhere in it. Kingdom Hearts has done well, but we all have to admit that it's not exactly "vintage Square," and I can see why it would sell to the US and Europe. And it makes perfect sense to want to expand westward; limiting your high sales to only one territory is completely illogical, especially with the level of Western competition that currently exists. But what exactly is the point of abusing a name that has brought you fame and glory in the past? What's the point of hurting your own well-earned and highly respected reputation of delivering a top-quality product? Back in the PS1 days, if it said "Squaresoft" on it, we knew it'd be good. "Good" at the minimum; more likely, it'd be great.

Perhaps it started with Dirge of Cerberus, but regardless of when it began, Square-Enix is apparently happy with driving age-old mascots and themes down our throats. ...didn't we just say that their old style would appeal more to the Japanese gamer? Isn't a common fact that the unique quality and diversity of the Square lineup made those games as good as they were? Each FF after IV could really be considered a separate IP they were so different, and as for the rest of their efforts back in those days...well, fans know what I'm talking about. Now, I have no problem with sticking with a formula that works. None whatsoever. I do, however, have a problem with a company that seemingly and with no reason whatsoever, works to dismantle a reputation they worked so hard to establish. Is it really necessary to do this to gain attention from the Western audience? I just refuse to believe the only possibility centers on reusing and rehashing until we're all blue in the face. Of course, I've no doubt that FFXIII will deliver on all counts; I'm talking about S-E games outside the FF world. In these areas, they're just falling off the radar.

It makes me a little sad. I most certainly remember the good ol' days of Squaresoft, and while I will always maintain that FFX and FFXII are two of the greatest games ever made, there was already evidence of a downward shift in the PS2 generation. And now, they add one final slap in the face by letting The Last Remnant debut on the Xbox 360 and obviously giving Microsoft's console the nod on other projects. I have no problem with including the 360; but what's wrong with a simple multiplat simultaneous release? Don't ignore the Sony platform; it was on the Sony platforms where Square originally garnered much of its legion of fans (after the SNES made the initial impact). I just don't get this new business focus. I get the concept, but I'm seriously questioning the execution. Whatever happened to simply committing to quality and letting the gamers decide? Western gamers like quality, too, you know...

6/13/2008 Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (16 posts)

Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 12:06:35 AM

Them branching out to more people means they are going to hire more people...

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Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 2:54:50 AM

Personally I have to say I don't like the direction SE is going, haven't liked it for some time, and while they still put out decent games, and I've been playing FFXI for the last 4 years... Even on FFXI have I slowly noticed though, a degredation in the quality, and in the last year... It's just plummeting. I see more and more of them just hand feeding their fan base. Maybe it's just me though.

If they wanna expand to 360, that's fine, although I still would prefer to see the FF games exclusive to Sony for obvious reasons... Mainly so there is absolutely no compromise in quality, which history has shown... SE, one way or another is always on top of the quality dept. and we have yet to see the real power of the PS3 I think, unless Kojima already did so with MGS4... but too early to say.

Last edited by Zapix on 6/14/2008 2:59:51 AM

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Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 4:43:20 AM

they make game targetrd for worldwide, more money the got, more funds avalable to make greater games.

thats if the profit used on game R

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Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 5:28:01 AM

Square was much better before Square-enix was formed. I mean who's idea was it to Axe Parasite EVE???? Thats when the problem started...imo.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 5:49:37 AM

MS pitched to Tri-Ace to develop a brand new IP RPG on the 360 known as Infinite Indiscovery. This was WAY before Sony even had PS3 development kits out. MS pitched for the game long before PS3 was even out. They were going to be the publisher's initially. Square Enix switched as the publishers. Tri-Ace already had a next gen graphic engine made on 360 for IU, so wouldn't it make more sense in ways to bring your second game in development on a platform you already are familiar with, have a graphic engine up and running on? Since they are already use to the 360 hardware, they can get SO4 out quickly. Unless both games bomb, Tri-Ace may stick to 360 (and Square Enix approves it). Tri-Ace had engines made on PS1 and PS2 last gen, which is why they stuck with them.

The creators of FFXIII games have their engine running on PS3. Although they claim it can work on other platforms, it will most likely run best on PS3, and PS3 will probably continue to see all their HD games. I really wouldn't be surprised if CyberConnect2 (makers of Naruto on PS3) make .Hack on PS3 (It they want it on an HD console) since they are more familiar with PS3 and already have an engine up and running on PS3.

Devs just don't suddenly switch platforms unless they are moving to another generation, or are forced to due to financial reasons (usually pressure by the publisher).

As for Last Remnant, it's all about UE3. How many PS3 games have been delayed, canceled, etc. which were UE3? Remember the Fatal Inertia situation, where it was PS3 exclusive, PS3/360 multi-platform on release, 360 timed exclusive, and now coming as a PSN download. Getting UE3 up and running on PS3 is not easy. I pretty much guarantee Last Remnant had 360 has the lead platform all along (where only the 360 version was shown). And when the developers tried porting the game to PS3, it ran into several issues (that could be why the game has been taking so long), so they decided to just go ahead and release it on 360 first (since it's closer to completion) and eventually finish the PS3 version. Porting Bioshock to PS3 is looking to take over a years time, so that kind of shows porting UE3 games to PS3 isn't easy. And if Square Enix held back the game back just for the PS3 version, they'd be losing out on a lot of money right away (which they badly need, according to Wada). If a game is UE3, expect it to have issues on PS3 and most likely be inferior to the competition.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 7:18:18 PM

At no point did Square-Enix say the 360 was the lead platform for The Last Remnant, and the first evidence we have of S-E siding with Microsoft on that particular title just showed up in the past week or so.

I'm also well aware of Tri-Ace and Microsoft with IU, but that doesn't change my point: Square-Enix essentially ignored the Xbox, and that's after Microsoft basically tried to do the same thing. Why are they suddenly successful with the 360 in pitching to S-E? Because S-E, quite simply, has this new business focus and at the same time, has apparently put many of their fans behind them.

Engines or exclusive purchases or not, this fact remains.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 11:37:54 AM

I completely agree with you Ben. The parts of "Don't ignore the Sony platform; it was on the Sony platforms where Square originally garnered much of its legion of fans" and "Whatever happened to simply committing to quality and letting the gamers decide?" is exactly kept going through my mind when they were announcing their 360 line-up. It was their releases on the Playstation system that gave them their numerous fans and supporters and it feels like they are just turning their backs on people who have supported them over the years. I do understand that they want to expand their horizons but the fact that they are ignoring the Playstation system - the very reason they still possibly exist today just does not stick with me anymore. I know many may argue that SO3 wasn't all great - but look back all their SO releases have always had a home on the PS. It just feels like their mission and devotion to their fans is gone.

I don't know if you guys remember years back when the PS3 was debuting - S-E was talking about how great the PS3 was and even supported it with a FFVII intro movie. It felt like S-E was appreciating and continuing their support for the PS and never did they complain about complications in gaming development for the PS3... Of course, a year later when the 360 WAS selling (because the PS3 lately is selling at a higher RATE) better did their direction change <....<

Anywayz I hope their FF titles will remain exclusive to the PS3 MAINLY because if their other games are going to the 360 - I want a top quality game for the PS3 (since we'll be missing out on a potential series and SO4).

Last edited by Mystearica on 6/14/2008 11:39:18 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 7:15:03 PM

Oh, I remember Square-Enix praising the PS3 all the time, definitely. Then, I think Microsoft opened their check book and...well, we get what we have now. S-E seemingly ignoring those who MADE them in the first place.

Seriously, I don't want people to think I hate the 360 or something, and S-E should never make games for the platform. If they were talking about simultaneous multiplat releases to appeal to western gamers, I would never have written this. But that's not what they're doing, is it?

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Dmitry Malayev [Moderator]
Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 12:01:47 PM

Very insightful article Ben. I must agree with it for the most part.

I think it all started with the FFVII spin-offs, meh, maybe even with the FFX-2 spin-off on FFX. Though the spin-offs are in no way bad, actually many of them are pretty darn good, but i feel like square doesn't have games coming out as good as the FF series. All they have in my interest is the FF series.

Whatever happened to Chrono games, or games like Einhander? All i see that's getting a bunch of hype is FF games from Square. I loved the PS1 and SNES because of Square, but for the PS2 that lacked that certain something. They weren't releasing bad games for the most part, it's just nothing amazing like they had for the SNES and PS1.

Hell still think in the past year Square's best game was a re-release of FFTactics for the PSP. I'm still on that games more then any other game. But then again i truly believe FFTactics is the greatest game ever created. I'm sure you'll agree with me Ben! :)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, June 14, 2008 @ 7:12:02 PM

Oh, that's a well-known fact, my friend. FFT is indeed the greatest of them all. I've had it for over 10 years now, and every year, I still get the urge to play through it at least several times. LOL

I completely forgot about Einhander, to be honest with you, but then again, it also reminds me of Ehrgeiz...heh. Einhander was another great IP from Square, and as you said, one of the biggest reasons to love the PS1 was Square. I just miss those days of workin' down at EB, scanning the coming soon lists to see which ones were made by Square. I didn't need to know anything about the game; it was made by Square, and that was almost always good enough for me (with the exception of Brave Fencer Musashi).

And like I said, I don't mind Western expansion or focus. But it seems like this new focus comes with two negative points: a distinct loss of original quality, and the apparent abandonment of long-time Sony console owners. It's BUGGING me.

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Evil Incarnate
Sunday, June 15, 2008 @ 2:09:12 PM

I was going to purchase a copy of The Last
Remnant,but decided I would rather purchase Valkyria Chronicles instead.I figured S-E thinks they can attract XBOX360 game sales with this stunt and PS3 owners will still buy the game after they have screwed us.

Last edited by Evil Incarnate on 6/15/2008 2:09:55 PM

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Deleted User
Sunday, June 15, 2008 @ 6:21:02 PM

U didn't justify anything in this article besides the fact that you are jealous of the xbox 360 getting an exclusive from S-E. Be a man, step up and just admit it. Quit beating around the bush all the time.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, June 15, 2008 @ 10:21:48 PM

Sorry, I don't accept criticism from anyone who starts a sentence with the letter, "U."

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Sunday, June 15, 2008 @ 11:00:33 PM

I agree whole-heartedly Ben. After hearing that Square-Enix is supporting Microsoft in their attempt to target at the Japanese market with RPGs and also their apparent change in direction in order to please western gamers, I am quite flabbergasted. I mean, PS3 should not be shoved to one side and just get ignored by S-E while 360 get all the big titles from S-E. Sure, the big series is still not in Microsoft hands, the FF series is still exclusive (for the time being) to the PS3. I just hope this big one won't eventually be ported to 360, if it does, I will have lost every faith I have for S-E. I noticed that after FFX, games that have been developed from the new alliance, S-E, has been going downwards in terms of quality, FFXII was pretty good mind you, but other than that, I can't say any of those other great games can be considered as great titles. And I am thoroughly astounded that Star Ocean 4, a title that I've been anticipating for all this time, is going to 360. And a PS3 version was not announced as of yet. I just hope its engine isn't UE3, or else I will know that PS3's version will be inferior due to the fact that UE3 and PS3 don't go that well together. One thing of interest is that Unreal Tournament 3 actually came out for PS3 before 360, so that's a small beacon of hope right there.

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Monday, June 16, 2008 @ 11:09:54 AM

Its all about the MOOOOOONAY...and well Microsoft has alot of that to throw around...::Sigh:: If/when I become involved in making video games...I would definitly take priority in whoever gave me my big break over a big check ::shrug:: that might just be me tho

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 @ 4:20:30 AM

well definitely FF on nes and snes had a strong rpger following but FF7 on ps1 blew up it appealed to girls and a much wider audience because it was the most visually stunning and different title available on ps1 at the time everybody loved it and it turned a lot of new people on to RPGs. Since then I haven't gotten in to FF games I have been patiently waiting for the next FF on PS3 that is as good as the originals and 7. Personally while I like the premade characters, I miss the ability to choose and customize your party like in FF1. But definitely the largest cash cow waiting to be milked is an awesome new PS3 FF and a new mmorpg version. Those 2 titles if done correctly could put square back on top as they were after the success of FF7 and hopefully get them back on track. Hardcore FF gamers mainly own PS3s our loyalties have remained with Sony and Square so for them to jump ship to Xbox or Nintendo Wii is ludicrous since their long time fans and supporters have grown up and have plenty of money to spend we are not Xlive or Wii 13 yr olds asking mommy to buy it. When you find the best way stick with it and if it aint broke don't fix it, that's the lesson Square seems to have forgotten. Hopefully after they get rich by selling out to microsoft and burning Xboxers with inferior games they will finally get around to delivering the goods on the PS3 and maybe that's really a smart move to send junk to xbox so they will want to buy a PS3 for the good stuff and when it does arrive we will all buy it and love it and forgive them for taking so long everyone's happy again and their reputation will be restored.

Last edited by NetheRealm on 6/17/2008 4:37:47 AM

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