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Square-Enix: "We Look More To Player Preferences"

There was a time when any game designed by a Western developer was met with skepticism by the knowledgeable gaming crowd. But these days, some see it in almost a reverse light and even Japan's biggest developers have admitted they're lagging - in some respects - behind their Western counterparts.

This is why you're seeing a definite "Western push;" a concerted effort by the aforementioned studios to create games that will appeal to a wider audience. It's well known that Japanese titles tend to have a different artistic flair to them, and some designers have tried to sacrifice this tradition and instead of making something that looks like a JRPG on the PS1, they opt for a Gears of War style. However, despite what you may think, Square-Enix says that while they're certainly trying to appeal to the mass worldwide market (their new studio just opened in LA), they're actually not going out of their way to make a game with Western influences in mind. According to what Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers producer Akitoshi Kawazu told Destructoid, they don't separate the target audiences into "West" and "East." Said Kawazu:

"The presence of Japanese games is not as strong within the international market these days, and as a business that creates and sells games, the reception in the Western market is naturally a point of interest to us. However, when developing a game we do not separate our target audience into categories like 'Japanese' or 'Western.'

We look more to player preferences, such as those who like higher difficulty levels, those who enjoy more of a collection element, those who look for more freedom in a game, those who like to have set objectives, and so forth. I do feel that one major difference in the Japanese and Western gamers’ preferences lies in the art style."

In other words, it seems they only want to incorporate new gameplay aspects in order to appeal to more gamers outside Japan. These elements aren't "new" by modern-day standards but most are new to the Japanese market, and some have yet to be embraced in the East. There will always be differences in terms of preference, simply due to the inherent cultural differences, but Square-Enix isn't as concerned with that; they just want to make games that everyone will enjoy. Really, that's the goal of all developers these days.

12/29/2009 10:30:50 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (33 posts)

SvenMD
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 10:58:12 AM
Reply

I don't mind minor changes in final fantay games (I actually liked being able to see the enemies in the world prior to a battle). I just want the core of the Final Fantasy series to stay the same. I'm glad they don't seperate audiences into east and west. They should just make an amazing game, and I will buy it.

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Alienange
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:02:36 AM
Reply

"The presence of Japanese games is not as strong within the international market these days"

Earth to Squeenix, Earth to Squeenix!
You have to release games to have a "presence."

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Oyashiro
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:11:53 AM
Reply

"we do not separate our target audience into categories like 'Japanese' or 'Western.'"

What? This is exactly what you decided to do with Nier. You make the 360 version to suit "Western tastes" then decide not to release Replicant in the US.

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 8:13:49 PM

lol

hypo faces they are :D

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SnipeySnake
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:29:21 PM

Wait...repelicant isnt going to release in NA?

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bridgera
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:18:15 AM
Reply

"We look more to player preferences"

That was true in the 90's, but over the last 10 years, Square-Enix's show nothing could be further from the truth.

So what have we gotten in the 2000's?

FFX - okay, good game, no free roaming airship was kind of lame, but great game

FFX#2 - a silly sequel, but you could still have a lot of fun with it

FFXI - sucked for a lot of reasons, most of which involved completely ignoring player preferences for the first 5 years of its release.

FFXII - this one was a pretty big miss with a lot of fans. It's still the only FF game I haven't beaten a second time. Hey, now we haven't seen a free roaming airship in YEARS.

FFXIII - Haven't played this yet, just read some of the reviews, which indicate FFXIII is more of a movie that you play through than a traditional FF game. The free roaming airship is now gone for over a decade.

So that's Final Fantasy games released this decade. I must say, the first decade was much better than the second. Square Enix seems to have really lost their way and certainly isn't "looking to player preferences".

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Vivi_Gamer
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:36:39 AM

I agree with all of that. The lack of an Airship/World Map didnt bother me on FFX though. I liked how when we walked through from town to town the map would appear at a new location, it felt like an adventure still. You could also go on boats and even take a ride on shoopuf. What put me off XI was the monthly pay, i refuse to do that for any game. even a Final Fantasy.

I would like to point out that not all FF games since Square-Enix have formed have been bad. I thoroughly enjoyed FF7: Crisis Core. While it was more like Kingdom Hearts than FF. it was a very enjoyable game.

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SvenMD
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:58:08 AM

I don't know, I really miss flying around in the airship. The music was always fun too.

And you have to admit that flying a high-def airship from Pulse to Cocoon would probably be amazing!

Also, as an aside...FF IX was released in 2000 as well.

Last edited by SvenMD on 12/29/2009 11:58:33 AM

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bridgera
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 1:56:51 PM

"That was true in the 90's, but over the last 10 years, Square-Enix's show nothing could be further from the truth."

LoL, let me take the gibberish which that sentance was and fix it to something that makes sense in English.

"That was true in the 90's, but over the last 10 years, BASED ON WHAT Square-Enix's HAS SHOWN, nothing could be further from the truth."

I rephrased that a few times while writing it, and I swear it looked fine when I hit "submit comment" lol.

Oh, you're right, I forgot FFIX was released in 2000.

Last edited by bridgera on 12/29/2009 1:58:03 PM

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Arvis
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 3:29:45 PM

I don't miss the overworld. In FFX and FFX-2, I really enjoyed taking a tour of the entire world on foot! Everything felt realistically proportional and I got an awesome sense of adventure. Especially in X-2. I just started at Zanarkand, and worked my way "backwards" to Luca and let all the extra episodes and everything just come to me as enjoyed exploring. It was amazing. :)

-Arvis

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Fane1024
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 5:13:24 PM

When you have the airship in FFXII (which isn't often enough), you can fly pretty much wherever you want.

Personally, I prefer the point-to-point map system of FFTactics, FFX, and FFXII to an overworld like in FFVII. It makes traveling actually seem like traveling, instead of wandering around in a field full of icons (and invisible monsters).

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Hezzron
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:22:29 AM
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Japanese art style has never bothered me, I like variety. The dialogue in a lot of the games is what makes me cringe.

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Alienange
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 1:12:32 PM

Cringe? You want to talk cringe? How about the queer lead characters?

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bridgera
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 1:59:14 PM

You mean how every time there's a major antogonist, Square-Enix turns them into a drag queen.... yeah that's pretty stupid.

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Andysw
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 12:14:40 PM
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I think this is the reason why square enix have been going downhill this generation: to make their games appeal more to western audiences. Has this stragedy ever worked for you square enix, has it?

Last edited by Andysw on 12/29/2009 12:14:56 PM

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Fane1024
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 5:16:00 PM

stragedy = Freudian slip or clever play on words?

Either way, thumbs up, though I generally don't agree.

The one thing Japanese developers need to do is join the 21st century.

They should NOT lose the art style, though.

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Andysw
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @ 11:40:28 AM

Correction, strategy.

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DaNgerSteVe
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 2:38:24 PM
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could this finally be the demise of Square Enix and will they go back to Square Soft

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NightHawk17
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 3:18:41 PM
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The appeal of their games was always that they were from the "east", I mean if i want to play a western game I'll go buy one of the many out there

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 4:09:19 PM

no doubt, thoroughly "Japanese" games have an appeal all their own. I don't want it to die out by adding stuff for mass appeal.

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SnipeySnake
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:30:47 PM

@TWEWM
Same.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 4:05:20 PM
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Nonsense, they literally made two heros in Last Remant, one to appeal to each market. And look what happened. They decided to go 360, and look what happened. If they listened to our preferences things would be going forward instead of backward in the FF universe.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 12/29/2009 4:08:34 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 4:16:32 PM

I reckon they destroyed years of near-perfection by getting rid of the separate battle screen with ATB and putting in gambits. Why would I want my battles on autopilot? They sidestepped turn based, ran past action based, and just went with an automatic transmission that requires little tuning.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 12/29/2009 4:17:27 PM

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Fane1024
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 5:19:31 PM

Separate battle screen = totally lame. Good f*cking riddance.

Yeah, I said it.

What they should have done is give players the option to have the game pause (still, not with bouncing characters) when each character's turn came, thus allowing players to play it as a turn-based game or in real-ish time.

It would be similar to the VATS in Fallout 3, but not exactly the same.


Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/29/2009 5:20:39 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 5:38:41 PM

FF has always been representative of an adventure and a battle, never a direct battle. You get time to formulate a strategy and use your brain to overcome bosses that are ridiculously stronger than you. Cut out the strategy and it ain't Final Fantasy, it's another hack n slash. I understand the devs need to change it with the times and keep open minds, but not so open your brains fall out. Why not make it an FPS while we're at it?

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 8:15:51 PM

Loved FFXII's battle system
I still do like the timed battles of old, but FFXII pulled it off really well without having to switch screens and giving you an atmospheric feeling and sense of space not present in past FFs...
I like both styles
Dragon Age: Origins = FFXII battle system

Last edited by Scarecrow on 12/29/2009 8:16:16 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 8:54:35 PM

It worked for Dragon Age a lot better, it just fit. Not to bash on XII because I liked the game and the story, but when it came to battles all I did was set and forget, then intervene to heal when they weren't keeping up.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 12/29/2009 8:54:51 PM

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Fane1024
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @ 4:15:01 PM

@ World

I didn't say it shouldn't be turn-based. I have no problem with turn-based games. My roots are in "pen-and-paper" RPGs, which are by necessity turn-based. One of my favorite games is FF Tactics, which is turn-based to the extreme.

I just think the artifice of a separate battle screen where the characters can't move or do anything actually tactical is an outdated result of old, limited technology.

And I don't buy the argument that the turn-based combat allows the player to use strategy. In my experience, aside from strategy RPGs, turn-based RPGs involve little strategy. Your characters are either attacking with the most damaging attack they have available or healing. Status-effect powers are wasted on weak enemies and most bosses are immune to most effects, so there's no point in using them 90+% of the time.

Add the ability to flank, to move closer or further, and to defend and you'd actually have some strategic elements.

None of which is to say I don't enjoy those games; I just want them to move out of the NES era.

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just2skillf00l
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 @ 11:47:58 PM
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Turned-based has become so rare these days. Like WEWM said, What happened to implementing strategy through brainstorming and planning to defeat a boss WAY stronger than yourself? I miss the old great titles. When observing my preferences, I feel like we are advancing in the opposite direction. Whatever, I guess all dreams don't come true.

Last edited by just2skillf00l on 12/29/2009 11:49:02 PM

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___________
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @ 12:40:35 AM
Reply

so is that why Japanese games get released west side months after JP?
ive never liked asian styled games, to fancy dancy arty styled to me, to fake.
like bayonetta its sooooooooooooooooooooo over the top it kills the mood for me.
i prefer dark nitty gritty games, the only asian games i can say i like is the MGS series, DMC and resident evil.
but there really the only ones that stray away from that fairy crap!

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Feregrin
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @ 11:16:36 AM

"but there really the only ones that stray away from that fairy crap!"

That "fairy crap" is done quite often in the west as well. It's called fantasy games.

Oh and you think Bayonetta is over the top but not DMC? Funny.

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___________
Thursday, December 31, 2009 @ 8:45:39 AM

what DMC over the top?
in bayonetta all the switching camera angles during combat made me feel like having a fit.
and even the music jesus christ never has the music in a game wanted me to blow my speakers to hell.
the combat in bayonetta was good, every other aspect was crap.

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Mr Bitey
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @ 1:02:21 PM
Reply

I think I only bought 3 Japanese games in 2009 (RE5, Demon's Souls & SF IV). To be fair, there just weren't that many of them.


I think there will be a lot more in 2010 with FF XIII, White Knight, 3D Dot Hero's, and The Last Guardian.

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