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Is It Really Fair To Blame Xbox For The Fall Of Final Fantasy?

I am trying to remain logical and sensible, here. This is not an attempt to rile up the adolescents sitting there in video game forums, just waiting for an incendiary headline.

The point is that being a long-time Final Fantasy fan, I've heard a great many of my brethren actually pointing the finger at Microsoft and the Xbox as a root cause of the demise of our beloved franchise. At first, I dismissed the accusation as biased and even ludicrous. I've heard the following argument many times before- "The minute FF went multiplatform, it started to take a dive." And perhaps, depending on your point of view, one could argue that such a statement is true. It's actually quite tempting to do.

After all, although FFXII was already a departure from the norm of the series, it was still an RPG in every sense of the word. Things started to get a little dicey with FFXIII, wouldn't you say? That being said, I don't believe it's fair or complete to just say, "FF went multiplatform and then went downhill." That's not giving us the entire picture. Why did the series go multiplatform? Well, why did Square Enix purchase Eidos? Why has every single move they've made this past generation indicated a desperate drive to expand westward? It's not that they went multiplatform; every serious publisher who wants to make money must cater to the largest audience possible. One really can't recommend anything else.

No, this is more about the company focus as a whole. They figured they had to put FF on the Xbox because they needed a bigger audience. They figured that audience would include people who were unfamiliar with FFs and in truth, RPGs in general. They figured too many Westerners are interested in more action and less depth. Hence, we started to see the shift in the once-legendary series. Now, we're getting Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which most hardcore franchise followers are calling a flat-out abomination. So...wait, doesn't this sort of lend some truth to the admittedly simplistic "Xbox killed FF" accusation? It still seems ridiculous to say.

But in truth, once you examine Square Enix's clear and painful business practices this past generation, one might want to make some assumptions. Like, if FF had stuck with Sony and catered only to the hardcore (which indeed could've meant financial suicide), Final Fantasy would've remained Final Fantasy. What do you think?

Tags: final fantasy, xbox, square enix, gaming culture

5/12/2013 9:52:08 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (56 posts)

Knightzane
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 10:03:51 PM
Reply

FF13 wouldn't have been stretched out into what it is now. Its kind of hard to limit a game to three disks. I think Ben is going MS this next gen. So many strange posts from him lately :O

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 10:11:52 PM

If I would entertain the notion that Microsoft/Xbox was part of the destruction of my favorite franchise of all time, why on EARTH would I be going MS next generation?

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Knightzane
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 11:11:14 PM

It was a joke... Geez

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cLoudou
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 10:16:10 PM
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Blame lies "squarely" with SE.

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Akuma07
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 12:51:48 AM

Agreed.

In fact, I have never even considered the possibility that the Xbox was the blame, like....ever.

When Square came from Nintendo to Sony, there was no change in their style?

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 1:33:40 PM

I see what you did there!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 10:28:04 PM
Reply

Good theorizing. The way I see it it isn't the fact that it went multiplatform that destroyed it, it was the overall multiplatformization process.

This process entails trying to grab the audience of the Xbox 360 as well as being available on the platform. That means less thought and more action, less control, less JRPG, less decisions, etc.

I can't prove any of that took place, SE has been so shockingly bad they might have come up with it all paying no never mind to anything.

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DIsmael85
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 10:32:50 PM

Lol, I agree with your last paragraph. It's a shame what they have become this Gen. :(

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Teddie9
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 10:54:33 PM
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SE makes the games and publishes them. They call the shots and they take them. No other party is to blame.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 10:56:41 PM

Like any other company, S-E responds to the market; specifically, how they perceive the market.

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Akuma07
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 12:50:23 AM

But they are the ones who respond to it. It was their choice how they respond to it.

Many other companies have kicked the trend of bending to the masses and gone ahead with old-school style games. Essentially choosing not to respond to the market.

Last edited by Akuma07 on 5/13/2013 12:50:43 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 10:59:03 AM

"Many other companies have kicked the trend of bending to the masses and gone ahead with old-school style games."

That really isn't true from a big-budget angle. I can't think of any franchise with high production values (i.e., blockbusters) that remained "old-school."

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Akuma07
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:02:28 PM

You make a compelling arguement.

I guess I was thinking about stuff from platinum games and Level5.

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Bonampak
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:06:12 PM

I have absolutely no love for MS or the Xbox but I have to agree with Teddie9 and Akuma.

S-E is to blame. No one else.

We're now seeing how Square-Enix has gone completely insane by lusting after the sales numbers that many Activision and EA games presently get (CoD or FIFA). And how they're claiming that their recent games have failed only because they didn't sell something in the area of 14.5 million units (like FIFA 13 did).

So, are we also gonna blame Activision and EA for how S-E has totally unrealistic sales expectations for their own games?

Is it really a good idea to start blaming Activision and EA for how S-E is trying to emulate what makes those games successful and how they shoe-horn some elements from them into a FF game? (making them more action oriented or casual friendly?)

Lets not forget that S-E decided to go mainstream in Japan back in the PS2 era when they shamelessly went after the trendy J-Pop crowd. You could not go any more mainstream than that.

Ultimately, S-E is the one that calls the shots.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:54:08 PM

Again, S-E calls NO shots. They only react. Everything they do, everything you're all talking about, is a REACTION. And the only thing they appear to be reacting to is the rise of Western gaming, and as Xbox is at the absolute head of that rise (just look at US numbers), then it's just inevitable that MS is part of this.

Plain and simple.

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___________
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 9:59:58 AM

xcom enemy unknown, heavy rain, LA Noire, theres TONS of big budget games out there that hearken back to the old days.
not to mention the massive return of survival horror, the genre alone is a massive revival of the old days.

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ethird1
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 11:11:05 PM
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I want to play that phone FF game where you have like 20 characters on screen at one time fighting bosses on my ps3 or vita.

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Akuma07
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 12:52:55 AM
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No, it is all on Squeenix.

The world cried out for a true FF next-gen game, and they responded unkind.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:20:34 AM

It ends, as they say, not with a bang but a whimper.

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Beamboom
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:47:20 AM
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I've always considered this theory to be like how conspiracists read statistics. Fact is, SE has *always* tried to reach the largest possible audience.

The sole reason there was such a large number 3rd party exclusives on the PS2 were because the PS2 held the key to the biggest market. So their wish to reach the biggest possible audience has always been there. It's what they've always aimed for.
Had Xbox owned 75% of the market they would have received plenty of 3rd party exclusives too, from developers that found the last few percent of potential sales to be too expensive.

So we can't really blame anyone but SE for making these poor decisions based on how they perceive the market. The various consoles are just platforms, distribution channels.


Last edited by Beamboom on 5/13/2013 2:05:31 AM

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___________
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 6:19:42 AM

so then why did $E leave nintendo and make FF a playstation exclusive when the ps1 released?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 11:02:49 AM

I can't believe I'm saying this, but blank line has a point, Beamboom.

And you're forgetting the differences in audiences. Xbox and PlayStation fans have ALWAYS been diametrically opposed in a number of different areas. If they were the same, S-E wouldn't have wanted to change FF very much at all, would they? Xbox dominates the US; S-E wanted a bigger piece of the Western market, S-E sees the typical games on Xbox, the typical titles that top the charts, and hence, we get FFs that start to have those traits.

I still think Square Enix has made too many false assumptions about the Western market, but the fact remains that that market is pretty much owned by Xbox, and there ARE significant differences in the PlayStation and Xbox audiences. That goes double when it comes to Final Fantasy, as most die-hard, long-time fans had PlayStations, because FF was exclusive to PlayStation for two whole generations.

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Beamboom
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:08:16 PM

I can't answer for what happened back in the beginning of the nineties. It was another time, another age really.

But another thing I suspect is just a myth is this supposed huge difference between the xbox and playstation users. I'd like to see some straight facts to back that claim. Everything I've seen so far in regards to cold hard sales statistics tells me the crowds are not that different. Like the myth that the Xbox gamers only buy shooters. That is plain nonsense. Several non-shooters I've seen the statistics for has relatively speaking sold *better* on the Xbox than the PS3.

I believe SE changed Final Fantasy because that's what they assumed the public would want.
Maybe, just maybe you got a point in that if FF13 had been released for the PS3 only it would have been different, simply cause the PS3 is that much bigger in Japan. But then we talk about the different markets, and not the Xbox per say.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:27:08 PM

There can be no facts to prove behavioral gaming differences and subjective personal opinions. I can't give you numbers for that.

But trust me when I tell you, those who stuck with PlayStation all these years are a different group. Final Fantasy is legendary because of PlayStation (sorry, Nintendo fans, but it's true). The best example I can give you of the cultural differences relates specifically to Final Fantasy-

Final Fantasy is a JRPG. You couldn't sell a JRPG on either the Xbox or Xbox 360. Lost Odyssey was fantastic; it was a total flop. They tried Blue Dragon. Another great game and an absolute failure in the US. They gave it Tales of Vesperia. No response. JRPGs have been tried - and GOOD JRPGs, too - and they have failed every single time on an Xbox platform.

This is why Square Enix believed they had to change. PlayStation fans were FINE with the JRPGs because so many LOVED them. But the Xbox crowd? Not ever. Therefore, if you're going to sell a Final Fantasy title on the Xbox, you had better change something. So yes, I think it's a perfectly legitimate claim.

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Temjin001
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 4:01:47 PM

Squaresoft wanted to bring FF to the N64 but the storage format totally stood in the way of their creative vision. I remember reading the articles about it back in the day.

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Temjin001
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 4:16:34 PM

Online gaming was going to rise and become a huge thing for consoles one way or the other. Multiplayer FPS was already shown to show popularity in the prior gen with Golden Eye and N64. It totally prempted the potential for something like Halo.
Halo + Xbox LIVE could have just as well have been PSN + CoD or KZ or something.
When Lost Odyssey hit, it didn't review particularly elite, Bioware and Bethesda was making big traction with their RPGs with console gamers at the time. It was the PC west meeting with the japanese dominated consoles. I remember reading reviewers refer to Lost Odyssey as 'old fashioned' or too 'traditional' to it's roots. It was becoming very apparent, jRPG's too rooted from the 32-bit era of design were seemingly becoming outdated.
Bioware and Bethesda were producing what was 'in' with many gamers.

As for genre interests per platform all there really is to go off is the software sales metrics. Yah, things can seem certain ways but the quantity of content selling is really the best indicator of things. I wouldn't be surprised if the best selling software were the same kind of games for each platform. You got the Halo and Gears on the Xbox and you got Uncharted and Killzone on Playstation and then you got the cross-platform shooters tearing it up for both.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 5/13/2013 4:18:30 PM

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Temjin001
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 4:19:32 PM

oh, so basically, I'm saying I think things were headed the way they were one way or another. MS just happened to spearhead the online+shooter craze best first.

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Akuma07
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:07:11 PM

Hmmmmmmmm.

Halo, CoD, Gears, even Mass Effect, they all seem very 'western' to me, and those are the games that made the Xbox big. So maybe you are correct in assuming that the demographic is completely different between the two consoles, but honestly, this just draws the conclusion that Squeenix should have stayed PS exclusive, they would have made more money.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 1:39:02 PM

Not to nit pick, but it was late 90's. (1997) and after nearly a decade of nintendo ezclusivity.

Ok... it was nitpicking. lol

I should add that in my case, I got a ps1 because of FF7. I was all about nNintendo before that. But that's just me and maybe 3 or 4 friends.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 5/14/2013 1:42:46 PM

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xenris
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 3:55:25 PM

Temjin is correct in everything he has stated. Square went to the PS1 solely because they couldnt fit their games on the Cartridge. The disc format offered them so much more in terms of what they could cram in a game. Multi disc games were possible, while on the 64 you couldnt really have a multi cartridge game, or at least I don't think you could.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 3:40:16 AM
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It's still pretty interesting that many franchises begin to die as soon as they go multiplat (if they weren't from the start)

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Douchebaguette
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 3:53:28 AM
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Yes. Microsoft are actually responsible, albeit indirectly as opposed to what many think.

Allow me to explain a sequence of events:

Microsoft, knowing the failure to compromise Sony with their initial Xbox against the PS2, release the next Xbox (the 360) within merely 4 years (3 if you weren't in the NA). They did this despite intially having a 54.2% failure rate. So they rushed their console and pushed to get it released first knowing the risk of issues, but they didn't care so long as they got their name in lights before their competition. This made a huge difference, and is the reason why I reckon console sales are definately affected by whatever comes out first, due impatience for the next available step up in hardware, followed by ownership of brand loyalty.

The second factor is due to the fact that Microsoft, already established as holding the main platform for PC gaming (Windows), decide to implement many of the features and characteristics included in PC gaming. Online competetiveness, DLC, a flourish in PC originated genres (FPS) and western games.

So basically, whilst Japanese publishers were waiting for their home console to set shores, they witnessed the surge in this new style of gaming. They saw how different it was and crapped their pants. We all saw those articles ben posted about how some Japanese key figures even mentioned a "Japanese gaming industry apocalypse"; so we had these types, we witnessed many jump ship to handhelds, and of course we witnessed developers such as Square, Konami attempt to "westernize" their games, even resorting to hiring western developers. Of course, they can't get it bang on, they are Japanese, so not only did they betray their loyal fanbases, but seem like right tards to unfamiliarized western consumers as well.

The third (possible) reason was Microsoft's competetive ruthless. They tried everything they could to steal Sony's third party exclusive franchises, and whilst it has already been proven with companies such as Rockstar, there is no doubt they would of tampered and negotiated with Japanese Publishers.

So yes, as a result, most of Sony's third party exclusives were lost. This was especially bad, since third party publishers were the backbone of Sony's library. They had to instead this time build first party exclusives from the ground up.

We have to remember that Square were never a stable company, hence why they nearly went bust 2 previous times in the past. It was Sakaguchi that saved their asses the first time, and it was their decision to practicallty excommunicate him that led to his resign from Square, resulting in their merge with Enix and a downpour of lackluster games to come. Only in this generation, followed by SE's attrocious decisions do we see the full form of their ugliness.

And yes, Microsoft's unbalancing of the gaming industry is a catalyst for their decisions.

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KidPresentable
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 4:32:09 AM
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No, it's definitely not fair to blame the existence of the Xbox for the change of gameplay in the series. That would imply that the Xbox gamer is vastly different or "less hardcore" than the PS3 gamer, which I don't really see. While I do think a focus on one console could be beneficial to SE and their RPG renaissance(if they are so inclined), I loved Final Fantasy 13 and 13-2. I never understood the nights spent weeping into pillows and kicking their beds by some gamers. "Uh, we got a 2010 game but we want it to play exactly like a NES game!" Befuddling. Those are the same cats out there complaining Square won't spend millions to graphically overhaul a game from 1997, even suggesting that this will get get SE back in the black. And for what? So their eyes can enjoy the game more?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 11:04:01 AM

"That would imply that the Xbox gamer is vastly different or "less hardcore" than the PS3 gamer, which I don't really see."

Yes, that is the implication. And honestly, I see it all the time. Not necessarily PS3 and Xbox 360, but PlayStation fans in general, who have had FF as exclusive for two complete generations. Original Xbox fans never stopped saying they didn't care at all about FF.

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Akuma07
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:08:09 PM

I definitely think Xbox fans are vastly different to PS fans.

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 1:46:18 PM

Definitely different.

I liked ffxiii and ffxiii-2, but I definitely feel like ill never get an ff game again. It was my favorite franchise. I like it alright still, but its nowhere near my favorite.I stilk enjoy replaying the classics too.

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sawao_yamanaka
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 5:03:10 AM
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For the game being poor? No. For the constraints that it caused on the ps3 because of the DVDs that the 360 had to use instead of one bluray? Yes. The full game was supposed to be more free and allow to take on side quests whenever you wanted. It is because of the DVD format that the 360 had that it only became "open" near the end. Or the last disc on the 360.

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Temjin001
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 6:34:40 PM

But every PSX FF was on 3-4 discs so I don't think the capacity thing with 360 was really as much of an issue as people think.

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Temjin001
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 6:43:26 PM

but I do have to correct myself on something here. The ratio of media capacity and system RAM was far different between the consoles. 700:4mb PSX vs 6800:512mb 360 isn't nearly the same. So it may be plausible that if and when S-E quickly decided to port FFXIII to 360 it meant for some sweeping streamlining. INteresting indeed.

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___________
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 6:18:25 AM
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oh rubbish!
the blame for FFs downfall lies with $Es greed, just like the downfall for RE, lost planet, dead rising lies with crapcom, and all segas titles lies with them.

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gorezilla
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 7:20:53 AM
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I do not believe MS is to blame. If you recall, pretty much every SE rpg this gen up to the release of FFXIII was MS exclusive, so it made sense that the game would also be a 360 release. Indeed SE wanted to cater to a different mass of gamers, and they decided that people who play 360 were the ideal rpg lovers. So, I believe wanting to cater to stereotypical 360 owner had an effect, but it was entirely SE choice. I think it might have been from a larger FFXI community than the PS2, but that's just a guess.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 11:04:46 AM

"I do not believe MS is to blame. If you recall, pretty much every SE rpg this gen up to the release of FFXIII was MS exclusive"

Uhhh.......what?

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gorezilla
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 8:03:54 PM

The point I'm trying to make is that Square probably figured the market would go a different way with a new generation of gamers. It's probably also the reason their games were exclusive to the 360. Yes they made changes to accommodate what they expected people would want on the 360, but I don't think MS wanting Square's games on the 360 is to blame.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 8:15:45 PM

What Square Enix games are exclusive to a Microsoft platform?

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gorezilla
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 12:04:41 AM

Were exclusive. Star ocean, last remnant, infinite undiscovery.

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bldudas1
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 7:32:43 AM
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Why did Final Fantasy go downhill? Because they wanted to appeal to people who wanted action. Those people are mainly on the Xbox 360.

Final Fantasy XIII was designed for a Blu-ray. It had to be cut up to fit on three DVDs when Square Enix decided to put it on the 360. That's why the open world and side quests were only available towards the end. And you could tell XIII-2 was made for the 360. And the game did not sell well on the 360, in Japan or outside of Japan.

I have a 360, so I am not bashing it.

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Vivi_Gamer
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 8:07:11 AM
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Not at all, though I will still at admit I am quite bitter over the fiasco. I bought a Playstation 3 for Final Fantasy XIII - Which was the biggest selling point in getting the console along with Metal Gear Solid 4. So to have it go on the opposing console was rather cheeky.

But that did not ruin Final Fantasy XIII. Which I still regard as a good game. I have defended it many times and will not do so any more as it won't change anyones opinion on it but I had a great time playing the game far more so than XII which I found nothing like what I would expect from a Final Fantasy game. It really did feel like a generic W-RPG PC game. XIII brought back a lot of flare and charisma despite it's faults, which after XII it was so refreshing to have characters which weren't bland and without purpose to the plot. Each character had a conflicting personality and reason to be there.

What has ruined the series is this new appeal S-E are trying to reach out to a broader audience and taking aspects from popular games rather than standing on their own two feat. When you compare this Lightning Returns open world gameplay where you can jump around to say Assassins Creed it looks just embarrassing. I enjoyed XIII-2 but it was just an average JRPG really, the gameplay wasn't all that improved (Jump back into XIII-2 after not playing it for a while... it's really not easy to get back into.) and the story as just so convoluted. I found Xenoblade to be a much more fulfilling experience, sure it may have been on the Wii, but it delivered in story, characters, gameplay, soundtrack and vastness of the world. Even XIII-1 looks flat in comparison to that.

Lighting Returns is the first Final Fantasy I am not even excited for, which is a big problem for someone who has regarded past Final Fantasy's so highly. If anything I am just waiting to see what Final Fantasy XV brings - hopefully not Versus.... I just want a new Final Fantasy, that is the beauty of the series, it can normally easily escape past mistakes as each game starts afresh. So All I can do is wait for them to finish XIII which never needed to be a series and just start over.

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JuicyShinobi
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 8:32:38 AM
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I think the Xbox console was partly to blame, in my opinion, because it stifled FFXIII's true potential when it was supposed to be PS3 exclusive at first. However, I think it's mostly SE's decision of trying to appeal to the western masses. I know it's a business and they're trying to make more money but I think it's just sad that money is suppressing SE's true potential. It reminds me of that famous quote that goes like, "money is the root of all evil".. something like that lol. Sadly, that quote is starting to sound more and more true to me. Of course Square Enix isn't the only Japanese company to fall victim to this. Resident Evil is another example I can think of at the moment.

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Temjin001
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 10:25:17 AM
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Just wait until MS's next-xbox reveal event. S-E will be on stage to reveal the next-gen of Final Fantasy, complete with fully integrated Kinect support.
Just imagine during battle raising your arms and shouting "Heal" to recover HP or slashing your arm forward to attack with a blade. The Kinect's camera maps your face to the lead character of the game!!!
The seamless multiplayer party system allows players to join in the fun at any point thanks to Xbox LIVE 2.0. Where your AI controlled mates can be your real friends.

=p


....Temjin you're banned

Last edited by Temjin001 on 5/13/2013 10:25:56 AM

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Akuma07
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 9:09:32 PM

No, come May 21, Squeenix will be on stage, to announce their announcement of a new announcement at E3, which will end up being an announcement of another announcement to be announced at a later event in the year.

Oh I can't wait for that.

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gungrave
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 11:40:51 AM
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I bought the PS3 for the exclusive FF13 and MGS 4. I felt that slap by S-E when it went multiplatform. I have since avoided all FF games, but from what I've read, I'm glad I did. I do feel that FF13 didn't reach it's full potential by going to xbox. I read interviews from the developers that there were towns and stuff....I wonder why that didn't make it to the final game, oh that's right! cause the xbox doesn't use bluray and had already maxed out their dvds.

Ultimately it's S-E fault for the fall of a once system selling franchise.

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cadpig
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:21:49 PM
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I wanted to blame the failure of final fantasy on having the series go multi-platform, but i can't. The blame should fall on Square Enix alone.

Not only did they make the series unrecognizable.
They keep trying to push "Lightning" as a major mega character. Which she isn't.

Square Enix has lost touch with final fantasy and what made the series great.

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Ultima
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 1:07:16 PM
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A bit of historical perspective is necessary here.

Beamboom is right. Square has *always* wanted FF to reach the largest possible audience, but they also want to make as much money as possible while supporting their vision. Final Fantasy VII made the jump from not just Nintendo to Sony, but also from expensive carts to cheap CDs that also had gave them the storage capacity they required to make the game they wanted. They felt CD tech and the capabilities it offered was the future (they were right), and went with the company that allowed them to pursue that path.

Prior to the X360, there was no need for Square to go multi-platform. For the previous 4 generations (NES, SNES, PS1, PS2), there was always one clear winner console worldwide (or at least in Japan) for them to support. You could also say Square was canny enough to always back the winner, though in the case of Sony and the PS1, they -made- them the winner (again, at least in Japan; Sega Saturn and Playstation sales were actually fairly equal in Japan, but the moment FFVII was announced for PS1, PS's sales skyrocketed and never looked back). However, Microsoft changed things with the 360.

The 360 is actually the FIRST time a system released first in a console generation since the NES era managed to stay on top. Sega Genesis didn't stay on top after SNES arrived, didn't stay on top with Saturn after Playstation arrived, and didn't stay relevant with the Dreamcast after the PS2 arrived. Okay, all that really shows is that Sega sucked as a hardware competitor, but they still set the tone for history. Microsoft didn't budge PS2 with the original XBox, but they DID manage to sell as many consoles on the FIRST try as console veteran Nintendo did with the Gamecube. They knew they weren't going to win against the PS2, but they knew they could be competitive, and they figured they had a good shot at winning the upcoming console war by getting out the gate first. They did exactly that, thanks not just to the quality of the console's software and features, but also thanks to Sony's blunders with their hardware (exotic hardware and price being the biggest culprits). This meant that the 360 held off PS3 and would remain ahead of it through its entire life cycle. Sure, the PS3 has closed the gap worldwide, but the 360 has relegated Sony to third in the US, which has become the biggest market.

So back to Square. Square had actually been having developmental problems since the PS2 days. If you compare their output with the PS1 to the PS2, there's a pretty big drop off. You went from three Final Fantasies (VII, VIII, IX) in four years to two Final Fantasties (X, XII) in 5, with one sequel (X-2) and one major spin off (XI). Before Versus XIII became the joke that it is, Final Fantasy XII was the game that Square took FOREVER to make (5+ years - did you know at one point once held the Guiness World Record for longest development time?), and while the result was overall pretty good, it was also divisive thanks to the change in format (read: borrowed a lot from MMOs/FFXI in particular) and didn't sell quite as much as they were hoping (it sold considerably less than X and I think even slightly less than IX). It was around this time that their portable output began to compete with their console output. By the time the 360 and PS3 hit, they were left behind developmentally, with most of their major output now relegated to portables. Square, like a lot of Japanese companies, simply has not managed to keep up with their western counterparts in developing for modern hardware at a level that would allow them to remain profitable. I'm not sure if its gross mismanagement, taking too long to get to grips with the hardware, lack of necessary skillset, wildly unrealistic expectations or (as I suspect) some combination theoreof. Changing gamer tastes is also possible, though for different reasons in Japan and in the west (Japan have moved to portables, the West have moved to not having to rely on JPN titles for quality any more). I still think the "changing gamer tastes" factor is exaggerated though.

Thus, with no console taking a huge majority share like in the previous 4 generations, Square felt no choice but to go multi-platform to cater to as wide an audience as possible. This has only exacerbated their development issues, since outside of portables they seem to be making really bad decisions and can't seem to get a goddamn game made on time. And even the ones they managed to finish are mediocre (XIII series) or terrible (XIV, needing a complete overhaul).

So no, I don't blame Microsoft, though they probably made things worse. FF's downfall has been primarily Square's fault.

However, do note FFXIII-2 and Lightning Returns for what they really are: Stopgaps to help stop the bleeding until Square's "real" console titles come out. I'm assuming those to be Versus XIII (maybe renamed as XV) and Kingdom Hearts 3. They aren't meant to be "real" Final Fantasy games and I don't think Square expects them to sell as such. Being made on the cheap, they'll take whatever sales they can get. Yeah, you could blame them for "cheapening" the FF name, but I think that ship sailed years ago.


Last edited by Ultima on 5/14/2013 1:07:35 PM

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Underdog15
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 1:53:17 PM

I don't think they made them the winner. Ff7 sold roughly 10mil copies. Not even 10% of all console sales. It certainly doesn't make up the difference of second place sales

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Ultima
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 @ 10:27:12 AM

You have to view it from a historical perspective. Prior to FFVII announcement, PSX and Saturn were neck and neck in Japan, and while they both were selling well, they weren't taking the country by storm or anything. Everyone was "waiting" for the official announcement of FFVII for N64 - the previous six FFs were Nintendo exclusive, so why should that change now? It was also (erroneously) believed that the SGI demo using FFVI characters was a test run for FFVII on N64 hardware.

Then BOOM! FFVII gets announced for Sony PLaystation instead of the anticipated N64. PLaystation sales skyrocketed *instantly*, leaving Sega in the dust. This made Sony have a much larger JPN userbase by the time the N64 rolled around which attracted more 3rd parties, far too much of an advantage for Nintendo to overcome, which relegated them to a distant second. There is no question that Square jumping ship to Sony is what made them number one in Japan.

Outside of Japan is a little harder to estimate, but I would say that Sony was able to use that momentum to support their overseas dominance (don't forget, this was back at the time when the majority of good games came from Japan, and the majority of those would have been for the PSX due to it having the largest userbase). Square jumping ship set off a domino effect that, if it didn't outright create Sony's dominance, definitely had a huge hand in it.

Last edited by Ultima on 5/15/2013 10:28:28 AM

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Nynja
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 4:21:27 PM
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The father of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, left Square-Enix in 2004 because he did not agree with the direction the company was going.

I think that says it all.

Last edited by Nynja on 5/14/2013 4:21:37 PM

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