Dear Square-Enix: The Only Way Forward Is To Go Back
I don't claim to be an analyst, nor am I any sort of business genius. I know what I'd want them to do, but I honestly don't know how any of my suggestions would be received at a corporate board meeting.
But I think it's painfully obvious that Square-Enix has to do something. Granted, FFXIV was a failure many - including S-E themselves - didn't expect, and FFXIII was a huge blockbuster. And they still seem capable of producing plenty of great portable titles, and that includes the immensely popular Dragon Quest IX for the DS and the upcoming third Parasite Eve installment, The 3rd Birthday, for the PSP. But outside of the FF franchise, they just don't seem capable of producing a top-quality, hot-selling title. Bottom line? This obsession they have with changing their focus to cater to the Western gamer hasn't worked. How can anyone argue that it has worked? Changing Front Mission to a third-person shooter didn't work. Adopting new studios that produce Western-oriented productions (like Kane & Lynch) hasn't exactly resulted in a windfall of profit.
And you know, it's easy to sit here and reminisce and say S-E should return to its roots, but that's like refusing to acknowledge how the industry has changed. It has indeed changed and this is just another Japanese publisher that is desperately trying to adapt and assimilate. But I almost think that all of them overreacted when they first perceived the overseas shift. I think it was a knee-jerk reaction, and the Japanese game makers suddenly believed every last American gamer became robotic automatons overnight. I've said before that those who played and adored the old-school Squaresoft games still love such experiences, and would certainly buy updated versions. But I was always saying to myself, "but if the company is doing well, who are we to say?"
They're not doing well, though. They're in a tailspin. I know they think traditional RPGs won't sell here, and I know they think a FFVII remake wouldn't be worth the time or money. But at this point, what have they got to lose? Why not at least try to see if those old fans are still there? Why believe that your masses of accumulated fans have all jumped aboard the Call of Duty bandwagon? Peek over your shoulder...the fans are still there. And believe it or not, they want what they had before. At this point, maybe the answer is to retrace one's steps rather than blindly surging forward.
12/16/2010 9:20:42 PM Ben Dutka