Square-Enix Doesn't Want To Expand, They Want New Fans
I've only considered the possible conclusion for several years but after the publisher's most recent announcement, I'm now convinced.
With every new unveiling, it seems as if Square-Enix is intent on informing everyone of the company's intention to "expand" their fan base. ...but that's not what they're doing. "Expanding" means that you build on what you already have; it means you retain that which has prompted the reason for growth. In other words, for a video game developer and publisher, it means they produce entertainment products that cater to both their established fanbase and a new group of gamers. However, it seems painfully obvious that such is not the way; ever since they announced they desire to "expand Westward" and opened their LA studio, it's clear they only wish to appeal to a new audience, while leaving the loyal audience behind. They had the foundation but instead of building upwards - which is what they claim to be doing - they essentially took a wrecking ball to that foundation and started construction on a new building.
I'm not saying Dungeon Siege III won't be good (although my confidence in Obsidian isn't very high), and I'm not saying I didn't enjoy past titles like Final Fantasy XIII. I'm saying that just about everything new from Square-Enix shows either an extreme lack - or is entirely devoid - of the very elements and features that made millions fall in love with Squaresoft all those years ago. Granted, the immediate argument for such a move is that progression and advancement means leaving old-fashioned ideas and mechanics behind, but you can boast innovation while retaining your fans. It really is possible. All I see is a company that suddenly has zero interest in Japanese gamers (let's face it; FFXIII sold like crazy on name-brand recognition alone), and continues to lump all Western gamers into the same group: the twitchy, must have crazy machismo in order to be entertaining, neanderthal crowd.
All I've got to say to that is, "thanks for repaying my loyalty with your assumption." You know, I'm suddenly reminded of the time when S-E brought up the idea of a Final Fantasy VII remake at their Twitter page, and the page exploded...and S-E was surprised. They were actually surprised, as if they really didn't know there were millions of old Squaresoft fans still out there; fans who may appreciate something like Deus Ex: Human Revolution but still miss the classic Square feel. And why is S-E basically only publishing now; do they only develop for Nintendo, or something? I think the bottom line is clear, and it's depressing for those who stare at their PS1 collections, realizing in dismay that in Square-Enix there is little to no semblance remaining of Squaresoft. They don't want to add to their fans (many of whom have already lost hope); they want to get new ones. Well, whatever. Seems illogical to me, but what the hell do I know?
6/7/2010 9:14:32 PM Ben Dutka