It’s been almost a decade since JRPG giant Squaresoft and Enix merged together. Since then it would appear that Square Enix has been steadily trying to put themselves into an early grave. I’m not saying it’s Enix to blame though, Yoichi Wada can shoulder that for now, but here’s four things Square Enix keeps doing that will unfortunately lead them to an untimely demise:
#4. Spreading Themselves Too Thin
It would appear that recently Square Enix has taken up the ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ philosophy for game development. Ten years ago I would have loved to know my favorite game company was working on so many titles. SquareEnix is like a kid with ADHD and too much sugar in their diet. As a result they have been releasing piss poor content, case in point Final Fantasy XIV and Mind Jack.
With Final Fantasy XIV it’s initial reception was so bad and the response from fans so damning that Square Enix took responsibility for their failures and changed the game from a subscription based MMO to a free to play model for a year. Square Enix dropped the ball and Final Fantasy XIV was a disaster, one that still affects the company. They ate the costs of running the servers, as well as while trying to fix the game for a relaunch (which we can expect later this year).
At the same time they published Mind Jack, the victims of which are still in recovery. On top of that they did something that NO ONE wanted and made not only one sequel to Final Fantasy XIII but recently announced another. All while allegedly still working on Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Tomb Raider, as well as another MMO for Dragon Quest, and a slew of other titles.
#3. Not listening to their fans
What I love most about this new age of technology is with Twitter and Facebook developers really get to hear the fans opinions. Other companies use that to their advantage and really try to cater to their fans, SquareEnix finds it more productive to ignore us.
Square Enix has the unique position where 80% of their fan base all want the exact same thing, and would gladly be willing to pay out of pocket as they scream “Shut up and take my money!” I honestly can’t think of a reason to not listen to your fans in a case like that. For years we have been asking for HD remakes of our favorite classics.
Square Enix does as well because Kingdom Hearts Final Mix HD was just announced. After years of pleading we finally got what we wanted. Then Square Enix slaps us in the face and says it’s only to be released in Japan. What? Why? I just can’t … Are you serious? BOTH Kingdom Hearts have greater sales in the US than they do in Japan. What the hell is wrong with you, is this punishment for Hiroshima? Maybe they just don’t like profit.
#2. Development Hell
It’s been a year, one year, another TGS has past and guess what another HD remake was announced. This reminds me of last year when they announced Final Fantasy X HD Remix, and we haven’t heard anything of this since. I know showing us some fancy new game and then hiding it in the shadows seems to be a Square Enix special move, but this is ridiculous. It’s been one whole year and you can’t even produce an HD screenshot?
That’s only the most recent example. I dont need need to set up the other one, anyone reading this article should know its been 6 years since we first heard of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, since then its been dead in the water. Who knows if this game will ever come out? One thing that is certain is that Versus XIII is a thorn in Square Enix’s side. On one hand its the best looking Final Fantasy game ever and its offering new take on on old ideas. Versus XII is the guiding light that could bring Square Enix out of the hole they dug themselves into. The problem is when we could have teams of people working on games like Versus XIII Square Enix sees it fit to do 2 sequels to a game that few people like.
Which brings us to Kingdom Hearts 3. We can get as many spin offs and prequels to the franchise as we want, but it would appear that Kingdom Hearts 3 is just a myth. It’s even more disheartening to know that the Kingdom Hearts team is the same team working on Versus XIII. Two epic titles tied up in development, HD remakes that are unanswered for, while fans dreams are crushed and hope for the company dwindle.
#1. Chasing Technology
Square Enix loves to make their games visual masterpieces, the only problem with that is they seem to be more interested in finding the prettiest way to light a room instead of figuring out how best to fill it with awesome enemies, or give us a fun new modern battle system.
Their games are beautiful but no developer should let gameplay mechanics take a backseat to cinematography and CGI. I’ve seen more tech demos from Square Enix than game demos in the last few years, and that’s what worries me the most. Id hate for them to solidify themselves as the company with amazing visuals and crappy gameplay in the next generation. We are so close to the end of this generation, now is the time that Square Enix needs to show us they haven’t lost their touch.
I only hope they realize their mistakes before it really is too late for them.