Dear Square-Enix: You're Wrong
I apologize to all our readers if it seems like I'm beating a dead horse, but yesterday's comments by Square-Enix president Yoichi Wada have got me seething. All I can do is think about the piece I wrote about how the publisher clearly doesn't care about retaining their old fans, but would much rather gather new ones.
I guess I just can't believe the quote that says anything made for Americans should be made by Americans, or some such nonsense. It's painfully obvious that Wada and Co. clearly believe two things: 1. the cultural divide between East and West cannot be bridged unless one side utilizes the help of the other, and 2. that everyone who grew up with an industry where 99% of all top-quality products came from Japan have jumped ship. They simply don't care anymore. As for the first inaccurate belief, I recognize that Western developers are starting to rake in some heavy sales for huge franchises, thereby eclipsing what used to be the biggest franchises in the world from Japan. But I absolutely refuse to believe that something like Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots could be considered a commercial or financial failure, and if Rising had remained exclusive to the PS3, it would've been very interesting to compare the sales of both titles.
In regards to number two, I'm just utterly confused. So, all Western gamers, including the veterans who would once hear a game was Western-made and be all skeptical, want a total shift? Really? They don't want what they used to love? They've all moved on to abandon Japanese-style gaming entirely? You know, just because gaming has become more mainstream than ever doesn't necessarily mean that everyone suddenly has the same tastes. It's too stereotypical to believe that Westerners don't have any patience and only care about shooters. It just is. At the same time - and I hate to say this, because it invariably draws out the increasingly bitter Xbox 360 fans - it may be that Microsoft's success has really messed it up for those of us who really adored JRPGs and other Japanese efforts in the past. Perhaps it's logical to assume that because the 360 simply can't sell in Japan and is immensely popular here, the differences in taste and preference really are insurmountable.
So I get why Square-Enix thinks this but what I don't get is why they don't even bother to try to cater to their long-time fans. Say I opened up a business selling a certain product. For a while, I was the only source for quality in that particular industry. Then, one day, a competitor started to rise quickly and before long, I found myself floundering. Yes, I would certainly assess what makes the competitor's product more interesting in the eyes of our shared consumer group, and I would attempt to adjust ('cough' Move, Kinect, 'cough'). But I'm still in business and I know I still have fans who enjoy my product; who go out of their way to find it. So do I expand my shelf space to include fresh product that might appeal to the consumers my competitor grabbed, or do I replace all my product with what I believe those consumers want? ...why in God's name would I eliminate the only thing keeping me afloat?
Few of your followers have changed all that much, Square-Enix. We don't all scoff at what Xboxers might consider "old-fashioned" turn-based RPG gameplay. We haven't all suddenly and inexplicably shifted our personal tastes to Halo and Gears of War. We don't all need a Final Fantasy that barely holds any traditional RPG likeness because we don't have the patience to sit still for two seconds. In short, we are not all in the same boat. The idea that you need anyone else to create products your avid followers wish to buy is absurd, and it's even more absurd to ignore us. Rant over.
7/5/2010 9:21:08 PM Ben Dutka