Feedback Unexpected #1 – What’s Up with Square Enix?

Note – Vlad’s views do not necessarily represent those of Analog Addiction

Hello, and welcome to Feedback Unexpected – a newly designed feature in which I, Vlad Pintea, express my personal feelings from a gamer’s perspective on the current state of our beloved industry in a tiny bit more personal fashion. My first topic? Square Enix!

Let’s talk about Square Enix and how even though it owns some incredibly fun-to-play and promising IPs, the company still decides to “wow” gamers (in the negative sense) by neglecting some great performances coming from the said IPs, delaying what the majority of people want, and focusing on what the majority doesn’t even care about.

Let’s start with the IPs. This year’s Tomb Raider sold 3.4 million copies in its first month. Ok, let me put it in another light – Tomb Raider, a franchise whose popularity started fading after the release of Underworld, a series which was absent ever since 2008 (not including The Guardian of Light), managed to sell 3.4 million copies in one month, getting Lara Croft on everyone’s radar yet again, and somehow, Square isn’t pleased. It received high praises from every gaming website and it sold incredibly well for a reboot, but Square still expected more out of it. Really?

Hitman: Absolution is in the same boat. Agent 47 wasn’t, and still isn’t nearly as popular as Lara, and until Absolution, his last adventure was released in 2006. Last year, 47 got back into action, managing to sell 3.6 million copies since its release date, but guess what? According to Square, that was still not enough. In an interview with the Official PlayStation Magazine, the director of IO (Hitman’s developer) told us that the next Hitman game will be developed by Square Enix Montreal. Let’s see how that turns out sales-wise, because, even though the developer did an excellent job on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, all past instalments in the Hitman series have been created by IO, and judging by the concept art from the next Hitman game (which can be seen below), it seems like the next entry will be wildly different.

Lastly, we have Sleeping Dogs. Now Sleeping Dogs is a brand-new IP which came out last year, and as it was to be expected, it didn’t sell as much as Tomb Raider or Hitman: Absolution, but it still delivered a great 1.75 million since its launch. Obviously, that wasn’t enough for the publisher again. I’ve got three words for you Square – revision of expectations. The games are great, but they don’t have Call of Duty’s popularity; and don’t take that as a hint to start changing the games up to a point where we won’t even recognise them. Just let the developers do their jobs (because they’re doing them amazingly well), and you just worry about advertising and publishing them.

Now on to what people expect. I am in no way a fan of JRPGs, but every time I visit a trailer, news piece, review etc. on yet another Final Fantasy game, the only thing that I read in the comments sections is – “Where is my Final Fantasy Versus XIII???” Just release that game already Square! It’s what people want, and not another adventure of Lightning. You had an amazing opportunity to blow everyone away at Sony’s conference back in February by showing it running on the PlayStation 4, or at the very least confirming a release date, or even the fact that it’s still coming out; something! Anything would have been better than presenting the same demo from last year’s E3, asking people to get excited. Final Fantasy Versus XIII can still happen at this year’s E3, so do your best to show it!

Finally, we have come to what people don’t really care – mobile games. Regarding this topic, I don’t have to look further than Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, which was a very controversial subject at the beginning of this year. Why? Because even though All the Bravest is a $3.99 Iphone/Ipad game, to get the complete experience, you will have to buy an additional $46 worth of content. Come on Square! Your main audience if focused on home consoles, handhelds, and the PC; that’s where all your money reserved for games should go, not on mobile. Nobody cares about gaming on their iOS or Android devices for more than five minutes, and those that do will always opt for something free!

Having said all that, it seems like there is still some hope left, at least for the “unsuccessful” mentioned IPs. During an outline of results briefing, the new CEO of Square Enix, Yosuke Matsuda, mentioned that “these titles (Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, and Sleeping Dogs) were lauded from a creative perspective, achieved very high levels of quality, and I believe that we achieved our primary goal of reinvigorating existing IPs and creating new IPs.”

So! Square, here’s what you should do: focus on your existing western IPs (Tomb Raider, Hitman, Sleeping Dogs, Just Cause etc.), give people what they want (Final Fantasy Versus XIII), stop focusing on mobile (nobody cares), and while you’re at it, take a note from Tomb Raider’s successful reboot (not according to you, of course), and do a massive reboot of Final Fantasy. Oh, and Core Online? Yeah, the games featured there are pretty old, so nobody wants to play only 20 minutes a day, with advertisements, when they can simply purchase the respective games for under $10 each. And while the subscription of $2.99 might not seem much, it’s too much of a hassle really. And as a bonus, please, no more fiascos like that Hire a Hitman campaign.

That’s it from me, but if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below, and if Feedback Unexpected proves to be popular enough, I plan on giving you one every week. Bye for now!