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What Exactly Is Square-Enix Doing?

This isn't a rhetorical question. I'm not placing the question in the headline and then following it up with an article that describes the answer. I'm not criticizing Square-Enix. I really don't know what they're doing.

This isn't a knock against their games, per se; it's more a question of their intended direction, which is an absolute mystery to me. In some ways it has been a mystery since our beloved Squaresoft merged with Enix and things went awry for a while, but even then, we at least got the great Final Fantasy titles and a few other top-notch productions. Now, as they attempt to target more of the Western crowd, I can't help but ask after their ultimate goal. I know they opened up their Los Angeles studio last year but as of right now, I have no idea what their intentions might be. Let's see...there's FFXIII, which I still say is more of a nod to the twitch-gaming group that would rather push buttons and watch flashy things rather than perform actual strategy in gameplay. It's super fun and I love it, but it's certainly my least favorite FF. Then there's that ill-advised Front Mission Evolved, which takes the standard turn-based strategy formula for the series and turns it into MechWarrior.

And what's up with Nier? I understand that it's an action/RPG but has Square-Enix noticed that few have even heard of the game at this point? And what's with this very obvious - even blatant - attempt at going all "M" with the over-the-top language and bizarre characters? It almost seems as if Square-Enix is so desperate to make a game that caters to the Western audience that they really don't care about the millions of avid followers. Those followers fell in love with Squaresoft back in the PlayStation days, and even tolerated a falling-off in terms of overall quality in the PS2 generation. They're still around. I'm still one of them, too. But am I the only one who feels slighted? Am I the only one who wonders why Square-Enix is suddenly trying to transform themselves into a Western developer merely with Japanese tendencies? Here's a general rule: stick to what you're good at. If you can't do the Western thing very well, you won't actually cater to anyone.  Stop trying to get everyone; it doesn't work.

The Japanese fans and other long-time fans around the world won't understand it, and the Western gamers who really won't play anything besides shooters in the first place won't care. So what are you doing?! I really am confused. I just don't get it.  As for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, we know nothing and until I see more than pretty CGI, there's nothing that can really be said.  But I can pretty much guarantee it won't feel anything like the Squaresoft of old.

4/6/2010 9:08:26 PM Ben Dutka

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