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Square Enix Facing Big Losses For 2010 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
eldavojohn writes "It's no secret that Final Fantasy XIV took a lot of heat early on, which required extensive damage control. And the Japanese tsunami (which appears to have added $7.5 million to their losses) certainly didn't help. But if what early investor reports are saying is true, then Square Enix is expected to report $148 million in losses for the closing fiscal year. Expect title cancellations (which might add to the hurt) and a very painful realization for the owner of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior (PDF). Perhaps a move to re-releasing classics will prove more fruitful than high development cost MMORPGs?"
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Square Enix Facing Big Losses For 2010

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  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Friday May 13, 2011 @03:22AM (#36115694)
    In square-enix, the square is silent.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @03:35AM (#36115738)

    Why not...uh...find out what made the classics classic and do a bit more of that?

    You know, games with interesting, non-whiney characters, non-linear story with some exploration in gameplay, music that is better tailored to each scene so it doesn't sound like they just put a track in to fill the silence.

    • by gilleain (1310105)

      Why not...uh...find out what made the classics classic and do a bit more of that?

      You know, games with interesting, non-whiney characters, non-linear story with some exploration in gameplay, music that is better tailored to each scene so it doesn't sound like they just put a track in to fill the silence.

      Totally agree : make VAGRANT STORY II...

      • by Gravatron (716477)
        no. Just no. VS was magnificent, and I'd rather it stay a one shot. They have reused the world a few times, for FFTA and FF12 though.
    • The worst part is the developers have no idea what made those games good. I was hoping when they re-released and updated the art in the earlier final fantasies they'd you know re-imagine it and make what was already there 10x better. Instead they end up copying the games almost verbatim and it kind of sucks because it just proved to me that the devs have no imagination. The updated art is great but why oh why do they not take what is already there to the next level and add to it? The early final fantasi

    • by RichiH (749257)

      Secret. Of. Mana.
      Chrono. Trigger.

      That is all.

      I am not buying any games these days. No time and no motivation. I would shell out 100 Euro for a _proper_ remake of either without a blink.

      • I would shell out 100 Euro for a _proper_ remake of either without a blink.

        If you could manage to shell out $148 million for a remake then they would probably do it for you. :-)

        • by RichiH (749257)

          What an unexpected comment ;)

          Still, a _lot_ of people who loved those old games have little time but paying jobs, now.

      • Secret of Mana [bit.ly] is available on iOS for $8.99. Link goes to iTunes web page.
        • by RichiH (749257)

          Thanks, but I still have my cartridge at home thus emulators are legal.

          Also, iOS? No thanks.

    • I want an update and re-release of Final Fantasy VII. Preferably for 3DS. Then they can have my money.

      I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    • by Mprx (82435)
      The biggest reason: you were younger and had lower standards back then.
      • by HAKdragon (193605)
        I'm going to have to agree with this statement. Also I had a lot more free time on my hands when I was in middle and high school than I do now as an adult.
    • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:15AM (#36116430)

      It's even simpler than that. STOP spending so much money on the parts of the game that people don't really care about!

      Sure, FF13 is beautiful, but the gamers would rather have had a better plot and characters. They'd rather have had open exploration, instead of that railroad. They'd rather have had real weapon customization instead of that linear just-keep-adding-things crap with no choices. Even the job system didn't have any real choices.

      Gamers don't want a movie. They want an interactive experience.

      • They'd rather have had open exploration, instead of that railroad. They'd rather have had real weapon customization instead of that linear just-keep-adding-things crap with no choices. Even the job system didn't have any real choices.

        Ha ha ha. You don't realize that the hardest core of Final Fantasies Japanese playbase is very conformist and doesn't want that. They want to buy the game on the same day everyone else buys it, play it the same optimal way, do the same things, develop their characters the same way. and have th exact same experience everyone else does. Didn't you play FFX!?

        FFXII had some of the things you wanted...and that fanbase complained. In fact, Basch was originally going to be the main character until Square decid

        • by RogueyWon (735973) *

          You're probably right about the tastes of the hardcore Japanese market - though I would add that I actually really enjoyed FF10.

          Is that info about the FF12 main character reliably sourced? I've not heard it before, but it would certainly explain a few things. Vaan starts out as the game's main character, but by the half-way point, he's pretty much reduced to a spectator. In fact, there was a point towards the end of the game when I really did start to wonder why they were still letting him tag along. Ashe o

          • by jgtg32a (1173373)
            Yes Vaan and Penelo were tagged on later. The best way to go through the game is to view them in the same manner as Tom Cruise's character in "The Last Samurai" an outsider watching the main character.
          • though I would add that I actually really enjoyed FF10

            So did I, except for the @#$#@ lightning dodging that I was never able to do, and the grinding you had to do to be able to take on some of the stuff in the Monster Arena. X is probably my second or third favorite Final Fantasy, VII being #1 and VI being #2 or #3 depending. It's the cast, they're likable and they behave like people on some "serious business".

            On another note Square ought to learn "economy of characters" XII would have been fine without Vaan and Penelo, especially if you 4 characters (Basch

        • by Psmylie (169236) *

          I didn't realize that Vaan and Penelo were tacked on, but it makes sense that they were. They felt tacked on even while I was playing it the first time. Most of my attention was on the other characters. And I REALLY didn't like Vaan at all.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        I disagree. I loved the Xenosaga games, and I like what they tried to do with FF13, they just screwed up the execution, if the characters and story were as stupid as they were I would have absolutely loved it.
        • by Gravatron (716477)
          FF13 had an interesting idea: Everything is a facade. The characters all put one up to hide their emotions. the world of cocoon itself was a facade build by the fal'cie. It sounds like they wanted to build a game about breaking down those facade, till at last, in the end, you had the truth laid bare. They just didn't pull it off, and the entire thing felt rushed. Current thoery was they spent so much time trying to build a next gen engine that they just didn't have the time to actually make a game for
      • by cgenman (325138)

        Square in the 90's was responsible for some very un-square like classics, such as Einhander, Brave Fencer Musashi, Parasite Eve, Super Mario RPG, Bushido Blade, Tobal, All-Star Pro Wrestling, etc.

        They need to get back to pushing into smaller, lower-cost, more experimental titles. Ridiculous production values will only get you so far. And always making the same games will burn out the creativity of your teams faster than any hamfisted merger might.

    • Absolutely.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Junta (36770) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:31AM (#36116490)

      Looking back, FFVII remains one of my favorite experiences. I tried to think more carefully about why on a recent replay.

      The top thing had to be the music. It was just fantastic. Maybe I just like chiptunes, but even as late as FFX, it seemed like they had some notable 'background' tracks. Now it seems like they are all generic toned down orchestral pieces that aren't noticable at all and just barely tweak to fit the mood. Except for when they make some pop song to prop up somewhere in the middle of the game...

      The open ended nature of exploration absolutely was up there. There are a lot of games that continue to get this part at least. One of the big moments when playing FFVII for the first time was leavinig midgar. Up until that point, I thought it was going to be a game like FFX or later turned out to be. Then when the world map presented itself, the contrast did a lot (for me) toward making midgar feel more like a cramped place with little control of your destiny relative to the larger world.

      Another thing was how the story panned out. The general theme was certainly not new, but the details were so convoluted, I liked it. Of course, I like Crono Trigger and there was nothing partiuclarly complex about the story at all.

      Finally, I think the lack of definition and no voice actors helped. I fill in the details with whatever I like. Crisis Core tought me I really won't like the voice actors if I get to make up my mind about how they should sound ahead of time.

      The worst thing was the translation.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Some (actually most) of Uematsu's orchestral pieces are simply stunning.

        The problem - Uematsu is taking lesser and lesser roles as time goes on. He basically had no hand in the FF13 soundtrack, and IT SHOWS. Elevator music in one area? (the Whateveritwascalled Massif) - You've got to be kidding me!

        • by Junta (36770)

          I will admit FF pretty much ended at FFX for me, so I can't comment much on his work in recent games when present. I don't want any MMO, so X1 and XIV are out. XII's gameplay really turned me off so badly I couldn't get past it (basically making the game an offline MMO simulator in many ways). 13.. just... well... yeah....

        • by Rakarra (112805)

          Some (actually most) of Uematsu's orchestral pieces are simply stunning.

          The problem - Uematsu is taking lesser and lesser roles as time goes on. He basically had no hand in the FF13 soundtrack, and IT SHOWS. Elevator music in one area? (the Whateveritwascalled Massif) - You've got to be kidding me!

          Well FFX was Uematsu's last real Final Fantasy soundtrack (although he shared scoring duties in that one too). He and executive producer Hironobu Sakaguchi left Square afterwards to form their own company, and Uematsu works morely on a contract/hired gun basis now.

    • They've made releases of FF 1, 2 & 3 for iOS, but they're pretty pricey by iOS standards ($8.99 for 1 & 2, $15.99 for 3). They've also made a couple of other RPG's for iOS that have been well received (Chaos Ring & Song Summoner).
  • How could a company that consistently produced quality entertainment for nearly two decades be reduced to a mere shadow of its former self? What happened? As probably one of the few people on /. that actually loved FFXI, I have to say, FFXIV was a complete waste of time. FFXI was fun, but it didn't age well, and there were a lot of things that SE could have learned from and done better. Instead of learning from their mistakes, they ended up making a less fun, more frustrating version of FFXI, and thought that making it pretty would solve everything. Well, it didn't, and now they're paying the price for it. SE needs to go back to the mindset that they had when they were just Square. They need to stop cranking out duds every 3 months. We need games that are on the caliber of FFVI, Chrono Trigger, and Xenogears. Otherwise, the world will simply stop caring about them... that is, if we haven't stopped caring already.
    • Things started going downhill when they merged with Enix. Ever since then Enix has seemingly been running the show into the ground. Both companies were good on their own and had their own baggage as well, but when they got together, it just mucked everything up.

      • by rekenner (849871) on Friday May 13, 2011 @04:00AM (#36115820) Homepage
        I feel like being a bit of a pedant, here.
        If it wasn't for the merger with Enix, Square likely wouldn't be around. See, it wasn't so much a merger as a Square-fucked-up-when-they-made-The-Spirits-Within-and-needed-bailing-out. Further, they had a lot of great years after that merger, given that it was... almost a decade ago. They considered merging before that, but at the point they merged, TSW lost Square a bunch of money and they would have had a hard time making it back on their feet.
        • by RogueyWon (735973) *

          Yes, absolutely right. Spirits Within should be remembered as one of the greatest disasters in the history of the entertainment industries.

          And yes, Square continued to put out great games for a while after the merger. Kingdom Hearts 2 was probably the best game of the PS2 console generation. FF12 is probably my second favorite installment in the series (behind FF7, and a little bit ahead of FF6 and FF10). But I suspect that those games had a lot of their development work done pre-merger, or in the immediate

        • i dont really understand the animosity towards spirits within. Sure it wasnt traditional final fantasy, but it provided a decent Sci-fi storyline/setting and breathtaking visuals. This was in the DVD age, and the visuals just blew me away.

          I remember walking into a gamestore where they had it playing on a ps2, and i watched the scene with the drop-troopers landing in that green goo, and my instant response was "what is that game? i must have it, even if i have to buy a PS2 for it"

          • It also cost millions, made next to none of it back, and virtually bankrupted Square. People don't like it because of the repercussions of making it, not because of the quality of the end product.

            • by 0123456 (636235)

              People don't like it because of the repercussions of making it, not because of the quality of the end product.

              That and because it wasn't a very good movie.

              • Yeah, but it wasn't Battlefield Earth either. It gets hate disproportionate to its suckiness, and I think my post above outlines the reason why.

                • by Gravatron (716477)
                  a lot of critics panned it as well. It was strange, in those days, to see a realistic CG animated film, rather then the more cartoony/whimsical cg of stuff like toy story. Triggered an uncanny valley effect as well.

                  Interestingly, when FF7: AC came out, it was much better received, and actually looked better then TSW. The 'Complete' version is even better, as it filled in quite a few holes in the story.
    • by chispito (1870390)

      How could a company that consistently produced quality entertainment for nearly two decades be reduced to a mere shadow of its former self? What happened?

      Simple: JRPGs, as a genre, are outdated and most young gamers don't have the patience to put up with them when there are so many more enjoyable games out there.

  • Ha, I forgot FF XIV even existed...
  • Sod Final Fantasy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday May 13, 2011 @03:50AM (#36115782)
    If Deus Ex: Human Revolution is done right, they'll be well into the black again.

    August 11th, folks. Diaries should be marked.
    • If Deus Ex: Human Revolution is done right, they'll be well into the black again.

      August 11th, folks. Diaries should be marked.

      Atleast the game looks damn good and fascinating so far. Of course it's possible they totally ruin the game, but.. it also has absolutely tremendous potential. If they don't goof up with buggy release and so on it could well become a serious hit.

      I atleast have added it to my "Wait for review and buy if it's good" - list.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it can't bring such huge huge money flows, due to genre, it is however the only game from them that i'm looking forward to.

      what i'm more interested in, is WHERE THE FUCK IS THE MONEY GOING? I mean, for that much loss you're paying some guys a lot of money! I mean, you could build a fucking stadium with the money and still have enough cash left to keep twenty engine coders and forty artists for the year(you could run the paycheck etc office stuff with the staff from the stadium building project and at least

    • by c0p0n (770852)

      August 11th, folks. Diaries should be marked.

      We should pass a congress bill to make this mandatory. And nuke from orbit those countries which don't comply.

      Most important event this year, without a shadow of a doubt. Even more than groundhog day I dare say.

  • by Andtalath (1074376) on Friday May 13, 2011 @03:56AM (#36115804)

    It's really that simple, squeenix has lost all manner of quality.
    They just make ugly designs, annoying musc, 100% grindy gameplay and stories which grow less and less cool.

    The main problem is that japans gaming culture and western gaming culture has grown more and more widely apart.

    This really hurts their market.

    • by TheEyes (1686556)

      It's really that simple, squeenix has lost all manner of quality.
      They just make ugly designs, annoying musc, 100% grindy gameplay and stories which grow less and less cool.

      The main problem is that japans gaming culture and western gaming culture has grown more and more widely apart.

      This really hurts their market.

      There's a lot to like about FF XIII. The Active Time Battle system is actually pretty cool when you really start delving into it (though the limitation of only six Paradigms is super-limiting in the late/post-game when you have a total of 216 possible combinations) The music and backgrounds were extremely well done; whoever was in charge of character art and scenery did a great job.

      Unfortunately the game ended up failing because of the rather boring and horribly linear plot, which to my knowledge didn't hav

      • by Tridus (79566)

        Well, that and the whole corridor simulator problem. FF XIII doesn't feel like an RPG world. It feels like a giant hallway.

      • Seriously? I'm still not sure what the plot was. I'm a huge fan of FF games, and I own every single one, a couple of them multiple times.... and I have to say, FF XIII was a complete load of crap. Top to bottom.

        I played for 4 hours. I subjected myself to that game for FOUR HOURS. I was trying, very hard, to like it, but.... 4 hours in, the combat system STILL felt like I was wading through that 1 or 2 turn tutorial in some of their other games. It was like "WTF, let me play already". Instead I could probabl

        • I actually played all the way through. The world only opens up at the very end, just before the final confrontations. The problem is that the game was on rails for 90% of it. Had they started with the open world, instead of introducing it at 30 hours of play, it might have been a passable entry.

          Even so, and after finishing it, I have no idea what the story was about. It's pretty sad when you're longing for the coherence of VI and VII.

          Even with all of that, the spark is just missing. The little gems from the

          • by jandrese (485)
            To be fair, nonsensical plots are not exactly uncommon in the FF series. FFX was a huge hit and a big seller and it didn't make a lick of sense by the time you got to the end of it.
            • That plot I could understand fine in FFX. Even if there were a couple of spots that made you tilt your head in confusion, it usually cleared those up somewhere, and the game was fun. The problem with FFXIII is there isn't ANY information. Theres no explanation as to who anyone is for the most part, its like you're expected to just know. Theres not even any help in the blurbs in the manual, and as I said, taping the controller down is an effective method of progressing through the battles in the game.

          • by Gravatron (716477)
            the story was actually quite interesting. Spoilers ahoy!





            Basically, the Fal'cie were purposely trying to kill the human population, as a sacrifice to bring back their creator, who had long since left them. The war of transgression was a giant setup for this, and it fell to two women, Fang and Vanille, to ultimately commit this act of genocide against cocoon. Fang was willing, but Vanille wasn't. So fang went out it alone, and failed. Vanille's resistance to her focus, the task given her, is the
    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      FFXIV was horrendous
      FFXIII was horrible
      Front Mission Evolved wanted to make me kill people in real life

      You know your company is in trouble when people start running out of bad adjectives to describe your games.

  • They and GPG might have had another big money-maker with Supreme Commander 2, but they went overboard trying to solve the resource demands in big (skirmish) games (the TA-SC games are CPU-intensive). It wound up oversimplified to an embarrassing degree relative to its predecessors, to the point where many gamers loyal to the TA-SC franchise just didn't want to play it and stuck with Supreme Commander (I) and SC:Forged Alliance instead, in spite of the aforementioned demands. I learned to change my expecta

    • by RichiH (749257)

      > where many gamers loyal to the TA-SC franchise just didn't want to play it and stuck with Supreme Commander

      I would argue that the true fans are still sticking to TA Spring. SC is (was?) so unbalanced, it wasn't even funny.

    • by ifrag (984323)

      but they went overboard trying to solve the resource demands in big (skirmish) games (the TA-SC games are CPU-intensive)

      I think it's more like they don't have a clue what they are doing. AI-War manages skirmishes which handle 1000's of ships flying around. And that's from a little indie shop with like 2 programmers. Granted, it's probably not trivial to optimize something like that, but the Supreme Commander titles are an absolute embarrassment on performance.

  • Who knows exactly how much FFXIV is costing them in development costs and server costs, but that ship has sailed. There's no point sinking money into something that will never turn a profit.

    It's been seven months now. The improvements the game has made are minor at best. (The two biggest are that leveling combat classes is now possible, and that the market place works. Not well, mind you, but it works.) If you ask anyone playing whether or not you should, they'll tell you flat-out it isn't worth it.

    This is

    • by Tridus (79566)

      They probably think that the PS3 version will fly because the competition for a PS3 MMO is so much weaker then in the PC MMO market. That and FF XIII proved a lot of people will buy anything that says "Final Fantasy" on the box no matter how bad it is, but relying on that is a great way to destroy your franchise in the long term.

      Square's problem is that the market has changed, and they refuse to move with it. FF XIV is the best example there is: they basically remade FF XI and ignored every lesson learned i

    • by RogueyWon (735973) *

      Agreed. I've heard of plenty of attempts at resurrecting an MMO that's had a poor start and so far as I can tell, these have a 0% success rate. The PS3 version won't save it - particularly not in the aftermath of the PSN leak fiasco, which is going to make people particularly cautious about online gaming on the PS3.

      The game's a failure - abject and total. At this point, keeping it going is doing nothing bar drawing resources from more promising endeavours. If there are any players out there who actually lik

    • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

      I'd love to see them keep the graphics engine, and retool the rest for use in a new game... The only thing they got right was the visual appeal. Everything else was fail even from closed beta. I was a beta tester. They didn't even bother to listen to us either. Long standing complaints from day 1 where never solved and the beta site sucked. So after a bit of time I simply stopped even testing it. It was awfully pretty though with compelling visual characters. If it wouldn't cost me just to go in, I'd love t

      • by _xeno_ (155264)

        I'd love to see them keep the graphics engine

        I wouldn't. The engine is a horrible piece of shit [square-enix.com].

        Ignoring the fact that it's unnecessarily slow, you still have crazy things like shadows not working. It (was) 2010. How the hell do you manage to screw up shadows?! (I should explain: there is a single parallel light source, and all "mobile objects" - that is, things that aren't part of the map - cast a shadow based on that. And not on, say, the light sources in the map. Which leads to crazy things like you being able to cast a shadow onto a lit fire.)

        Oh,

        • by muridae (966931)
          I would like to take that complaint you linked to seriously, but wow. They don't demonstrate a memory leak, or confuse a memory leak with having lots of stuff in memory; I don't know which is worse. "Oh noes, the game uses 1.5 gigs of RAM" immediately following "Why don't you make the game better by using more cores" seems like the stupidest thing I have seen. Running at 60 to 80% usage doesn't cause damage to your CPU unless you have a crappy heatsink. And if your graphics card is overheating and you are t
          • by _xeno_ (155264)

            I linked to the thread more to demonstrate that I'm not the only one having issues rather than because the OP in that thread makes any sense. If you read through the thread (hell, just the first few pages, really) you'll come across plenty of valid complaints.

            The game requires a ridiculous amount of CPU and GPU power and if we're at all honest looks no better than a game that came out years ago.

            Hell, I've recently been playing through Crysis and Crysis at max settings requires less CPU and GPU time than FFX

  • ...then how many developers can a $60 title support?
    1. One.
    2. Twelve.
    3. A hundred.

    For extra credit, how much do you have to charge to cover sales, marketing, legal, management, blow and hookers.

    Perhaps the game is just changing, and hojillion yen AAA titles aren't the sure thing they once were, is all. I believe it's still the case that no movie costing over $100,000,000 to make has ever lost money (yes, including Waterworld), but it doesn't follow that the same applies to games.

  • They could have made a new Thief, a new Hitman, Legacy of Kain, or Timesplitters. What did we get?

    A couple of lackluster entries from the tired Tomb Raider franchise while everything else sat on the back burner. They held back some of the most revered franchises of all time, and for what? What were they waiting for?
    • Well the last tomb raider was quite good and a good break from the 20th rehash of the same the same goes for the next tomb raider, there is a new deus ex in the line as well. Ah yes I would love to see another Thief title. But for me both series are not really the same without Warren Spector and Doug Church at the helm.

    • Timesplitters

      yes fucking please! Bring me a new timesplitters and i will buy it outright, hell, if needed i will buy a new console to run it on. TS2 was pure unadulterd briliance, the most fun i've had multiplaying any FPS and TS:FP put in an awesome storyline too, not to mention a much more expanded multiplayer mode, the level editing was groundbreaking

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday May 13, 2011 @05:23AM (#36116088) Journal

    Square-Enix's problems mirror, to a large extent, those that have afflicted the wider Japanese gaming industry (including, once you discount early Wii hardware sales, Nintendo), during the current console cycle.

    At the heart of this is a failure to evolve their games and franchises to reflect changing times and tastes. If often feels like the modern Japanese games industry doesn't recognise anything between "no change at all" and "total ground-up redesign". It's instructive to compare how the most successful Western developers have managed franchises and general gaming concepts over this time. If you look at the likes of Bioware, Bethesda, Bungie, Blizzard, Valve, even some of EA's own internal development efforts, you can see a pretty ruthless evolutionary approach to design. When a game comes out and the studio begins development either on a sequel or even a new property, the first thing that seems to happen is a look at what people liked and didn't like about the previous game, with this being factored into the development of the sequel.

    Take Bioware as a case-study here. Baldur's Gate came out in 1998 and was pretty successful. However, it was the sequel, which came out a couple of years later, that really revolutionised Western RPGs. Why? Because Bioware had evolved the franchise, removing aspects of the original game that had been "a bit too pen and paper" for CRPG players (such as no-pausing-on-the-inventory-screen mechanics and large amounts of wilderness crawling) and had expanded the areas that had been well received (adding further complexity to the casting system, expanding character dialogue trees and so on). Once Bioware moved on from the Baldur's Gate series, they continued releasing RPGs that very clearly had BG in their DNA, but which shed some of the pricklier aspects of the old series, while borrowing popular elements of Japanese RPGs (such as the "active party" system). Then having reached a point where they faced a serious conflict between hardcore RPG gamers and the more casual crowd, they essentially "fork" their games, with the Dragon Age series pitched for the hardcore and the Mass Effect series for the action demographic. That isn't to say that Bioware don't make mis-steps - Dragon Age 2 feels very much like a mis-step, and Jade Empire can probably be seen as one with hindsight - but an evolutionary approach like this makes it much easier to get back on track after a wobble.

    Then compare Square-Enix's management of its premier RPG property - the Final Fantasy series. There's no evidence of a planned evolutionary approach to the development of the series - just an odd mixture of clinging to past certainties combined with random-throw-of-the-dice leaps into the dark. There are elements of the Final Fantasy series on show in FF13 which feel like products of another era. Random encounters (and I'm sorry, but making them visible on the field map doesn't make them any less random encounters) have been pretty much entirely ditched in the West. Our developers have figured out that - surprise surprise - gamers don't like spending a couple of hours runnng in circles in a dungeon just to level up. Yes, levelling up is part of RPGs, but any Western RPG worth its salt these days ensures that it is done via interesting sidequests and subplots. And yet there they are, still at the centre of the flagship Japanese RPG series (and pretty much every other JRPG).

    The throw-of-the-dice element seems to come in the way that Square-Enix completely changes its battle and level up systems (and often even wider mechanics) for each installment in the series. At times, this has been a strength. It does keep the games from feeling a bit too samey. But when the throw of the dice produces a result that people actually like, it inexplicably never seems to get developed any further. So, for example, FF12's move towards more open-world gameplay was pretty widely welcomed, even by people who didn't like much else about the game. Yet then FF13 comes out and is basically a 30 hour tunnel for the player to

    • Actually the problem with japanese development is mostly that once a formula works for them they stick with it in every detail until the steam has run out, exception to the rule is Nintendo. Their luck was mostly that console gamers until recently were very reliable on not being too much angry about constant rehashes that might have changed by a huge influx of former pc gamers to the modern consoles and a so called mass market.
      The entire game design of a japo rpg is basically stuck in the mid 80s when the w

      • by RogueyWon (735973) *

        Agree, save that Nintendo are NOT the exception to the rule. All they do these days is hope that their latest hardware gimmick gets traction (DS and Wii did, 3DS looks like it won't) and remake the same few games - primarily Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Mario 64 and Zelda Ocarina of Time - with a different label on the box. Except on the 3DS, they aren't even going to bother changing the label on the Zelda box.

        But yes, the mid-series Ultima games (up to and including 6) were massiv

        • by Lifyre (960576)

          Taking something that works and running with it isn't a bad way to go. The difference is Nintendo has managed to do it without completely screwing the game underneath. SE takes the core game then completely changes everything above it. They throw out good and bad mechanics and world environments with little or no logical purpose. The GP argues that there needs to be an evolutionary approach not a wholesale slaughter every generation or no change at all (your examples are perfect) which is what the Japan

          • by RogueyWon (735973) *

            I think whether Nintendo screws up the core concept varies a lot from franchise to franchise. I personally felt that Mario Kart Wii was a disaster - and I know a good few people who agreed. It put too many karts on the track at once, with too many weapons available and saw the exit of the last vestige of "racing" from the series in favour of weapon spam and random chance.

            Super Smash Brothers came through ok on the Wii, and so did Mario via the Galaxy games - but even those aren't feeling particularly fresh

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      Very nicely written. Their single console mentality of the previous generation also didn't help and while they've relaxed on that a bit it still seems like anything not Japanese in origin is an afterthought. I owned an original XBox and loved it, the ONLY reason I ever considered a PS2 was for FF and it's relatives. There could have easily been a large number of sales had they taken a truly multi-platform approach and I think that would have improved this generation of games by forcing them to expand the

      • by RogueyWon (735973) *

        The sad thing is, Japanese game development hasn't always been inward looking. As recently as 10 years ago, it was the Japanese developers who were at the forefront of most genres (aside from the fps and RTS, which has always been Western things). Western developers were adopting mechanics from Japanese games like crazy as they rushed to catch up. Then just as the West started to draw level... the Japanese developers just gave up and started to focus exclusively on a slice of the domestic audience where the

    • Just wanted to say: excellent post!

    • by Winckle (870180)

      Great post.

  • by Rie Beam (632299) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:14AM (#36116238) Journal

    Get me:

    (1) A New Final Fantasy on a tablet and other portable device that, (2) While still pretty, (3) Has a fun and exciting mechanism incorporating touchscreen RPGing and (4) Isn't prepared by a poll of "things teenagers like". Make sure that it (6) Has a triage that goes: Gameplay, Immersiveness, Storyline, and then Graphics; and (7) Has an ability, in some form, to interact with other players, be it via Bluetooth or over the Internet.

    You risk falling victim to being another dead game company if you continue to emphasize high-budget "Wow!" games over ones that will actually draw new players into the series. You don't have to abandon the concepts you've developed, but please, just try something new. Is that so much to ask?

    • Actually id rather have another decent Ultima on a tablet than yet another jrpg with random encounters dice roll battles and endless statistics and cutscenes.

  • Perhaps a move to re-releasing classics will prove more fruitful than high development cost MMORPGs?

    Isn't that pretty much all they've been doing tons of already?

    But they keep insisting on remaking crap like FF2j.

    What they should probably do is something like
    1) Remake Final Fantasy VII
    2) ????
    3) Profit!

    People have been screaming and shouting for an FFVII remake for 10+ years. There are people who would sell their souls to Sony for a remake of that game. Yet they're absolutely adamant that it's never going

  • by Xacid (560407)

    Sony is what has kept me from playing any of the new FF series. Why?

    Initially the incredibly high cost of buying into the PS3. I can just about by a shitty used car for what they wanted for it when it was first released.

    Then what happened? The price remained relatively high. This part is fairly normal - I typically wait for the price to drop a bit (and it has) and then start measuring out ways to justify such a purchase. But here's the thing - Sony's given me absolutely no reason to *invest* in their consol

  • by 0racle (667029) on Friday May 13, 2011 @09:41AM (#36117264)
    Many people will not pay again and again and again for the same game. I bought them once, I personally am not going to buy them again.

    Unless they are happy to exist simply as the shadow if their former self, they are going to have to make new games that people want to pay for.
  • Everyone talks about a FFVII remake (and with good reason, that's a huge cash cow waiting to be milked), but personally I would pay top dollar for a SoM remake that allowed me to play the co-op multiplayer feature over PSN.

  • honestly all the FF games seem to look the same to me. i think they need new art direction and to focus on what made their old games classics to begin with. actually a more open hybrid game breeding games like elder scrolls/FO3 and the Final Fantasy franchise could be cool.

    re-release couldn't hurt if they add value, and i'm not talking about just porting chrono trigger to the iPhone. i would totally buy a re-release of FF7 with updated graphics and gameplay for the Wii or the PC.

  • I think two simple things would go a long way towards recapturing the magic that Square game used to have:

    1. More interactivity
    2. A fucking editor

    Actually, that would help other games too (I'm looking at you, Metal Gear Solid). The fan favorites all have these attributes -- there is no more of the game than there needs to be, and the player is actually allowed to play it. Up through FF7 Square did both of these well. Things like stopping a speeding train or doing exercises to keep warm in a blizzard require

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