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Square-Enix On RDR: "Oh No, We Can't Compete With That"

Perhaps it's a matter of intimidation combined with a lack of confidence. Maybe that would explain Square-Enix's lagging in the console department.

Many often compare the current Square-Enix to the S-E of yesteryear on the PS2, or the Squaresoft of the original PlayStation. And those same people point towards the evident shift in the company's goals, which now appear to be centered on one thing only: find a way to appeal to the Western audience. But that audience really enjoys open-world sandbox games like Red Dead Redemption and it seems you won't see such an experience from Square-Enix any time soon. Why? Because they feel they can't compete.

This from Hiroyuki Saegusa, director of the upcoming PSP title, Lord of Arcana. You can find his intriguing comment here:

"With our games, there’s more of a story focus most of the time. But with Red Dead Redemption, obviously it’s very free. There’s a free world and you create your world yourself. If we see that kind of game, we normally feel like ‘oh no, we can’t compete with those games’, and that kind of lets me down as a creator, because it’s so good. So I think it’s great."

You don't normally hear developers going, "oh, we can't compete with that." You will hear them praise other designers, certainly, but that almost sounds like a defeatist attitude, doesn't it? Not that we want an open-world adventure from Square-Enix, but there does seem to be a decided lack of confidence. It'd be one thing if the FF creators didn't take to the sandbox style but they obviously think it's pretty darn good.

To us, it just seems like Square-Enix is directionless these days. They've even admitted that they have no idea what they'll do with the next Final Fantasy. ...we could give them some hints.

Tags: square enix, games industry, red dead redemption

1/12/2011 10:42:34 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (60 posts)

spiderboi
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 10:57:14 AM
Reply

"Oh no we can't inject twitch into that... wait, we can."

C'mon Squenix, get your act together. The bad boys of PS2 era, you've just been downgraded to bad....

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Akuma07
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 12:17:44 AM

They don't have the guts to take on anything serious.

I mean come on, Kingdom Hearts 3 is now a freakin' 3DS game!!

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nilos95
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 6:33:18 AM

akuma, not quite. 3d is a prequel to 3.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:00:53 AM
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I have to wonder if things would have been have different with SE if they would have just stuck to their guns on the PS3.

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StangMan80
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 7:24:55 PM

yep... they made a big mistake there.

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Gone
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:01:01 AM
Reply

"But that audience really enjoys open-world sandbox games like Red Dead Redemption and it seems you won't see such an experience from Square-Enix any time soon" - Just Cause 2 was made by Square Enix and that was a sandbox game.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:02:50 AM

That wasn't made by any studio at Square-Enix; they only published it. Avalanche Studios developed it.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/12/2011 11:03:32 AM

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Gone
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:07:37 AM

Now I am confused by publish and develop. Why didn't Avalanche Studios publish it instead of having S-E do it for them?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 12:25:10 PM

It's a business arrangement. Square-Enix is a much bigger company and has the resources to publish to a wide market and promote the product. Avalanche wouldn't be able to do that on their own.

Most games have a separate developer and publisher, although some companies develop and produce their own games (like EA Sports and EA). But EA and Activision almost exclusively publish games from outside studios. Like Infinity Ward and Treyarch for Call of Duty (Activision) and Visceral for Dead Space and BioWare for Mass Effect/Dragon Age (EA).

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Gone
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 1:29:17 PM

Thanks for the explanation Ben.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:06:38 AM
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I see this feeding into the wRPG vs jRPG argument. jRPG fans advocate the greatness of that genre's storytelling. Whereas wRPG fans advocate the greatness of freedom and exploration within their own. It would seem, according to this SE guy, he believes jRPG's can't compete with "those games." And thus inferring that games that aren't formatted similarly to a wRPG/open world game are inferior, maybe even outdated.

Too bad. Hopefully that mindset doesn't make it's way up to the top brass who green lights the calls for future projects.

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Looking Glass
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:27:58 AM
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The biggest problem with Square-Enix is that they've fallen prey to focus group, or "design-by-committee", mentality. Or in other words the creative process is being driven primarily by the company's business executives, most notably Yoichi Wada (I hate that guy), as opposed to the actual artists. Wada and others like him within the company seem to insist on sticking their noses into the creative process. I would love for people like Yoshinori Kitase and Tetsuya Nomura to quit along with a number of other Square-Enix employees and form their own company. Which seems to be a distinct possibility as Wada is generally very unpopular even within his own company.

But there is hope. Wada and his business cronies now seem to be genuinely out of ideas, giving the actual creative minds the opportunity to retake control. And of course they've gotten a much deserved thrashing as a result of the botched launch of Final Fantasy XIV.

And another reason to hope is Final Fantasy Versus XIII. What I heard through the grapevine a while ago is that Wada agreed not to interfere with the development of Versus.

What we know for sure is that Nomura is essentially acting as the auteur for the game. Not only is he designing the characters once again he's also writing and directing the game. I think it's safe to say that for a lot of people, Versus is going to be Square-Enix's last chance to redeem itself.

Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/12/2011 11:28:58 AM

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spiderboi
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:59:42 AM

Riiight on! It's like "let's have a project that's this and this and this, to cater to that and that gamer" instead of "suprise me! jump out and think outside the box".

Sad.

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Looking Glass
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 1:13:08 PM

Now that I think about it. The situation that I described about Kitase, Nomura, and others leaving SE to start their own company is actually not without precedent.

That's pretty much how Monolith Soft got founded. If I remember correctly a group of people left Squaresoft over creative differences specifically with regard to the development of Xenogears, accepted an investment from Namco, and founded their own company.

I wonder when Xenoblade is going to be coming to the west?

Anyway, Wada and his cronies better watch out or history just might repeat itself.

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shadowscorpio
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 1:09:21 AM

Right on Looking glass , right on.

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:32:19 AM
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Squeeenix is irrelevant.

Looking forward to Hironobu Sakaguchi's The Last Story.
He's the future, Squeeeenix is the past.

Just make sure to get a Wii 8)

Last edited by Scarecrow on 1/12/2011 11:32:40 AM

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Looking Glass
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:56:26 AM

I wouldn't say SE is irrelevant YET. But if Yoichi Wada keeps up with his bullcrap we might just get there someday.

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Spore_777
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:43:49 AM
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IMHO, S-E knows that to cater for western gamers, it has to look at the market and see what sells.
And what sells in the west is exactly what Japan is not usually known for. It therefore must naturally feel like a challenge for S-E to develop a seemingly new type of game for them to cater to a new audience.
If S-E wanted, they could make another FF title typical to Japanese story telling and it would sell...in Japan.
S-E is where it is because it wants to expand its market. Give them time, when they get the formula right where they can cater for any audience...they will be game gods.

I think FFXV should be a typical JRPG though. Turn based and story oriented.

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Looking Glass
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:54:10 AM

And just where exactly IS Square-Enix? Because it's certainly not in a particularly favorable position right now. Not in terms of it's financial outlook and especially not with regard to it's public image.

Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/12/2011 11:58:53 AM

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shadowscorpio
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 11:47:42 AM

@ spore

SE doesn't need a "new" formula. If they made a Final Fantasy according to how they have in the past it would sell in Japan, Europe and the US just like they have sold in the past.

SE made a mistake when they, for so some ludicrous reason decided to support the xbox 360 demographic while at the same time leaving its most loyal fanbase in the Playstation 3 demographic to starve.

How many SE games does the PS3 have? Star Ocean the Last Hope is the only proper JRPG we have from them right now IMHO and that franchise is really originated from when Enix was its own company.

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Simcoe
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 12:14:04 PM

I think this is where development costs come back to haunt them. It's been said that it's much more expensive to develop for this generation, so in order to recover development costs a broader audience is needed (either they be xbox users, more western gamers or both).

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Looking Glass
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 1:42:10 PM

@Simcoe

Just because you want a broader audience doesn't mean that trying to go for it directly is the best way to achieve this. SE was actually doing just fine in the west without trying to cater to the west, as paradoxical as that may sound. I guarantee you that a PS3 remake of Final Fantasy VII would sell like hotcakes.

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Simcoe
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 1:57:35 PM

@Looking Glass Totally agree. I realize now that I forgot write "they think" after "recover development costs". They need to be true to themselves if they really want to succeed.

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Looking Glass
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 1:58:40 PM

@shadowscorpio

Well if it's any consolation to you I don't think it's particularly likely that SE will be taking the PS3 users for granted anymore, at least not for a while.

All of their attempts to get a 360 version of FF XIV going have failed, no doubt in no small part because of Microsoft's notorious Xbox Live policies. And now that FF XIV is faltering they are likely going to be looking to the PS3 version of the game for salvation. And for that reason they would do well not to anger the PS3 users again like they did when they made FFXIII multplatform. This is one of the reasons why I think it's likely that Versus is not going to be going multiplatform anytime soon, if at all.

And if it does then I think there's probably going to be hell to pay. I would buy the game anyway out of respect for Tetsuya Nomura, but after that I think it's likely that I would never buy a Square-Enix game again. I'm getting tired of being jerked around and lied to. I'm sure that there are a lot of other PS3 fans who feel similarly.

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Looking Glass
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 2:04:11 PM

@Simcoe

You rock Simcoe.

Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/13/2011 2:04:33 PM

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 12:40:30 PM
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I don't understand that quote. Is he saying that open-world games with a minimalistic approach to the story are, by their favour nature, superior to the games that S-E have been putting out for years? If so, then he is dead wrong. Every approach, every game has its strong points and its weak points. S-E should not try to compete directly with R* because we all know that that is not what they are best at. They should stick to making RPGs with an engaging story, world and characters. Make a world, don't let the player make their own. That is simply laziness I feel. R* can get away with it. They've been doing it since they were DMA design, and know HOW to do it.

I'd liken it to Ninja Theory making a new CoD, or Treyach coming up with God of War. There's no doubt they could do it, but because of their style, it would be unlikely that it would reach the top tier of the genre.
Peace.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 12:50:52 PM
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No surprise there. As we saw with XIII, they can provide the nice graphics and stuff but nothing even remotely resembling freedom anymore. But I'm not really buying it. I think it's a cost cutting measure wrapped in an attempt to westernize. I just don't believe that they couldn't have the wide open areas of FFXII in a next gen game.

Take a hint from Naughty Dog, when it gets difficult that is good news. Never sell yourself short, and by god get rid of the killtubes.

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Alienange
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 12:59:49 PM

Absolutely right. SE could have given us maybe 10-12 Gran Pulses instead of the hundred tunnels we got.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 2:47:07 PM

Many FF"s tend to have a fairly linear progression over the first 20-24 hours, or so, while it establishes a solid story. Where relatively they open up significantly by the later half or third of the adventure, usually with an accompanying air ship. I think the first 20-25 hours of FF13 could've worked well if they peppered the first part of the journey with more stopping points to explore and investigating villages and towns etc. Or they could've added more mini games or things to do other than running down a one way course grinding out battle after battle with little else to do or think about. The game really feels like it's on a diet.

Perhaps these are some contributing factors to FF13's changes:
Multi-platform accommodations for 360. The 360 version has nearly exactly 6.8GBS of game data. With two discs allotted to FMV. This was a calculated effort. 3rd party publishes are, in fact, charged royalty fees for every additional disc.

Escalating dev costs as gaming technology becomes more sophisticated will drive down profits if the user-base isn't growing proportionately.
I'm sure any of the FF's on PSX and PS2 costed much less than FF13, yet they sold more. Without appropriately scaling back the scale of FF going into the future, S-E could expect to become less profitable going forward as the overhead expenses continue to increase while sales remain relatively the same. One of two things would need to happen: lower the quality of the presentation (lesser quality FMV, lesser detailed worlds and characters, and lesser quality voice actors). Or, keep the presentational elements high, but scale back the breadth of the game's design.

There's also the argument that the series is simply dumbing down and becoming more sensational for the twitchers out there as well.


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CH1N00K
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 12:51:31 PM
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SE in the PS2 days..

"Lin-e-ar games? What is that? We can't make them can we?"

SE present day,

"Open world Gaming? Can we make that Linear? No? Okay, let's not bother, are western audience wouldn't understand it anyways. Who wants to play Halo?" (Okay that last sentence wasn't necessary....but still..)

Last edited by CH1N00K on 1/12/2011 12:53:14 PM

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kraygen
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 12:56:15 PM
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I would have to disagree with a lot of what he said. RDR had side quests, but the story was very specific about what you had to do, just like any SE rpg I've played. Most SE rpgs have free roaming and side quests.

Not that I want SE to try and copy RDR, I want them to go back to their roots, I'm just saying, I don't understand why he thinks RDR creates its own story and all that.

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Simcoe
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 12:20:14 PM

Totally agree, there was a story in RDR, there was also a lot of other things you *could* do outside of the main story, until you got board and decided to continue back with the main story.

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Alienange
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 12:58:13 PM
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Isn't FFXIII an open world adventure?

Oh wait... no one would know that because so many had a hard time getting past the cramped story.

In RDR R* gives the gamer a game to go along with the fantastic story. Why SE thinks shoehorning a gamer into their mold before allowing them some freedom is just crazy.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 1:13:45 PM

Gran Pulse wasn't even "open world" considering the current definition of the term.

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GuernicaReborn
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 1:00:08 PM
Reply

On a side note, investors lose all confidence in S-E as shares hit their lowest levels in six years.

Seriously, why would a multi-million dollar company like S-E allow a comment like this to get out?

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 1:01:42 PM
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West developers don't cater to the East, why are these Japanese devs so concern to cater to the West?

They didn't cater to the West with FFX for the most part, it still did great.

West devs > East devs when it comes to Western-themed games.

Why not just make Eastern games that have some Western appeal? And by some I mean like a character or two inspired by the West (Barrett, Cid?, Fran, etc.)

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Looking Glass
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 1:16:22 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth. The company was doing just fine in the west when they weren't trying to cater to the west.

It's strange and funny but very true.

Trying to cater to the west has done them no big favors, if any at all.

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godsman
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 2:14:56 PM

The East has no choice, but to expand their target markets. The sales of the games are not increasing, but the development cost increases from each generation. If they do not open up a greater market, by next generation games will be $70. The market will shrink.

It's understandable, but I'm just furious why can't they expand using new IPs, rather than ruining a great franchise.

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Looking Glass
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 8:30:29 PM

Actually, the East does have a choice. There are a number of companies that develop appealing games with relatively low budgets that end up selling well. Some good examples include Idea Factory and Gust. And of course there is thatgamecompany and their success with flow and Flower. The development costs, or how much money a company spends on a game, and what they do with the money they spend is entirely within their control, advanced tech or no advanced tech.

And of course there is nothing shameful about having and working with a low budget. The most important thing is that you do a good job with whatever you use, however big or small it may be. I think it's safe to say that there are many people who've encountered a big budget game that they didn't like.

And besides, I don't see why companies like SE can't keep doing what they have been doing since before they started trying to cater to the west and simply do it with current generation tech. I guarantee you that a PS3 remake of Final Fantasy VII would sell like hotcakes.



Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/12/2011 8:38:03 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 1:49:13 PM

I rather disagree, RDR is good times but the story is pretty standard western and spaghetti western fare. Lots of stereotypes and basic plot devices. Yeah, FFXIII kinda failed, but a lot of previous JRPGs have much more going for them story wise in my opinion. Suikoden V comes to mind, lots of shocking twists and political intrigue in there.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 2:53:44 PM

That you did, I missed that. But my point on RDR can be summed up pretty easily:

-Drunken Irishman
-Crazy Gravedigger
-Snake Oil Salesman
-Retired Gunfighter
-Tomboy woman who can do anything a man can in the old west.

etc and so forth.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 3:03:24 PM

There's a reason RDR got our Best Acting award last year, and the story was decent. I will say, though, that without that bad-ass ending, it wouldn't have remained in our memories as featuring a good plot.

And I still think Marsten's character wouldn't have behaved the way he did towards the end.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 3:32:39 PM

They tell it the same way they tell any GTA story, really.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 4:08:48 PM

That's the problem with a lot of arguments, not everyone has played through the entire game before opinions fly. I admit I didn't completely finish RDR, though I'd like to some day even if I did accidentally read a spoiler.

Ben didn't finish Castlevania, but the end to that warps the whole history of Castlevania and I'll never forget it or that journey now.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 1/12/2011 4:10:06 PM

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swapnilgyani
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 3:11:45 PM
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If you read this comment as a layman, you'd get the feeling that Square Enix is a small time PSN developer or something, building games out of their mom's basement!

Either that, or this comment has been misquoted or taken out of context.

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natclark619
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 3:53:15 PM
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I'd like to point out that the quote could be translated wrong or taken out of context, although statements such as these are running rampant through s-e and not being printed. Its a shame s-e went from representing "jrpgs" to becoming a laughing stock. Surely there are fresh and amazing ideas that came up for s-e in the last 2 years that were declined by board of directors. A perfect example of tragic corporate mismanagement.

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DemonNeno
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 4:41:07 PM
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These guys need markers, dry erase boards and plenty of weed. Obviously, they've grown old and lost their creativity.

Seriously, who the hell says that? I mean, good for them for being honest, but the approach is entirely wrong... Isn't it? ISN'T IT?!? Good god, do they realize square soft not only changed the game, they reigned king of the hill? At what point did they lose that? And why?

It's amazing to see this sense of inferior awkwardness from the company that holds the key to the undisputed RPG champ. RDR is great, but it's not absolutely incredible. Besides, that what we all got from quite a few FF games, wasn't it?

Maybe this new entity needs to try really hard to get an archived crew back in their kitchen to cook us something that doesn't leave an odd taste in our mouth and an emptiness in our appetite... I'm sad.

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556pineapple
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 4:55:52 PM
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Show them Final Fantasy VI or VII and say, "Do this again." Not necessarily literal remakes, but a new story of that quality.

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Eld
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 5:25:04 PM
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All they need to do is make RPG the way they used to make them. FFXIII wasn't even RPG at all.

There are few... million people in western market that would pick up that kind of game over RdR.

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StangMan80
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 7:26:03 PM
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Soo... any news on Red dead's next installment yet?

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StangMan80
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 7:28:37 PM
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This guy is not in the right work place.
Games always have competition and if you admit you cant keep up. You just need to pack up and get out of there.

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johnld
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 8:23:34 PM
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Square-Enix after a few years would talk about level 5's rpgs and say "we cant compete with that." i just dont see any way they could turn this around. if asking an obvious question then being hit by a website crash due to all the responses to said question doesnt wake them up, nothing will.

If i'm not mistaken, a lot of those yes answers for a FF7 remake came from the west. And they only didnt even try to survey the west about this question.

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Looking Glass
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 8:46:42 PM

Actually, I think it's pretty obvious how they could turn this around. Oust Yoichi Wada. Seriously, things would get a lot better if Wada and his cronies would stop sticking their noses into the creative process and let the artists do their jobs. This is one of the reasons I'm very hopeful for Final Fantasy Versus XIII.

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oONewcloudOo
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 9:05:29 PM
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why would they say that they have FFVII RDR cant compete with that

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 10:26:03 PM

They forgot that game existed.

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b3mike
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 @ 11:45:41 PM
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Square Enix reminds me a lot of Fox Studios, they love to butcher creativity.

Last edited by b3mike on 1/12/2011 11:46:13 PM

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___________
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 1:44:14 AM
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typical $E always putting everything in the too hard basket!
this is exactly why they will always be the industries biggest sellouts.
they use to bring out some of the industries best games, now everythings too hard.

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alansschizzar
Thursday, January 13, 2011 @ 1:23:31 PM
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I think it's fairly ridiculous to think that only open world games are so popular among western gamers. Look at Uncharted, Call of Duty, Resident Evil. These games are linear, successful, and Uncharted got GoY both times! The problem developers face with sprawling games be they linear or sandbox, is how the characters and story are developed and if the gamers can actually believe how they are developed. The last truly successful game SE had was FFX, right? LINEAR. But amazing story, superb voice acting, and believable characters. The bottom line is for a a game to be heralded as great, it is not whether it is sandbox or linear, but how cohesive, functional, and entertaining the game is as a whole.

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Gamer46
Friday, January 14, 2011 @ 12:51:47 AM
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Definitely not the comments you'd like to read if you're a fan of SE, but the funny thing to me is, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep was one of several games I liked better than RDR last year (not to say RDR is bad, just wasn't for me). Be interesting to see what happens with SE in the next few years. They've obviously hit a rough patch, hopefully they can get through it and emerge better than ever. I think they just need some changes at the top.

Last edited by Gamer46 on 1/14/2011 12:52:50 AM

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Rogueagent01
Friday, January 14, 2011 @ 5:43:18 AM
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Getting rid of Wada would be a start, but whose to say another corporate moron wouldn't just take his place.

I can't believe SE would even acknowledge R* exists, their games are garbage. Sure they sell but so did Brittany Spears "sales do not equate to talent". RDR is by far one of the most disappointing games I've purchased this generation, every aspect of the game is sub-par. Even the worst game SE has released could and probably would garner a better review from me. SE should worry less about other developers and just focus on hiring talented next-gen developers since they seem to admit they have none. So they don't know how to do it, then hire or contract someone that knows what the hell they are doing. Look at DC Universe they contracted several developers from all over the world to make that game happen.

I have loved how they(SE) say this or that can't be done and yet other developers consistently release games that can do what they thought was impossible.

And I agree with those of you that have said that the artists no longer "make" the games. Corporate college flunkies think they no better because of some pointless degree that means nothing in an artistic world which gaming is. Don't get me wrong you need marketing and a educated staff to do what needs to be done, but allow the artists to make you money not the other way around.

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