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Role Playing (Games) Games

Final Fantasy XIV Subscriptions Returning, PS3 Version In 2012 96

Just over a year ago, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XIV. It was not well received, and to atone for their mistake, the company removed the game's subscription fee, replaced a bunch of the developers, and delayed the PS3 version. Now, they are confident enough in the updates they've brought to the game that they are re-instituting the subscription plan and working again on the PS3 version, though it's still about a year away. They've also explained their roadmap for version 2.0 of the game, which will include a new UI, a new graphics engine, and a redesign of all current maps.
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Final Fantasy XIV Subscriptions Returning, PS3 Version In 2012

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  • Re:Let it die... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:43AM (#37748390) Journal

    Honestly, I suspect it's about more than just the money. FF14 has failed, in a way that no previous main-series FF game has ever failed. That's going to be a huge blow to company pride and morale.

    Square-Enix (and Squaresoft before it) have had mixed fortunes over the years. Indeed, the original Final Fantasy was given its title because of an internal piece of dark humour - the company expected it to be the last game they released before they went bust. They've had other misfortunes since then; Spirits Within essentially wiped out Squaresoft and necessitated the merger, the commercial success record of the handheld games is patchy at best, they've failed to keep up with Western developers during the last 5 years or so and there's a widespread feeling that the Final Fantasy brand has been severely over-stretched by too many spin-offs.

    But until FF14, every main series Final Fantasy game had been a commercial success. Degrees varied; FF9 ended up less prominent than it could have been because it released so late in the PS1 cycle. FF13 attracted a lot of criticism from players and reviewers. But they always made money - even the previous MMO, FF11 (biggest international-MMO around before the launch of WoW). The company could always claim success. Even if other ventures failed, the goose would continue to lay the golden eggs and the core of the company would remain viable.

    Then FF14 failed. It didn't just fail a little. It didn't just underwhelm. It was a huge, monumental failure. Critics hated it, many gamers mocked it, the vast majority just ignored it. The Final Fantasy brand took a massive blow; profits and share-price both fell through the floor.

    Square-Enix remain one of the biggest players in the gaming industry. They've published some well-received and highly successful titles lately; the new Deus Ex chief among them. But it must be unsettling, given the general economic climate, that the company now finds itself with its biggest safety blanket severely damaged. They might come out of it a stronger company; forced to innovate and move away from old certainties. Or they may crash... again.

    This does seem to be a bit of a pattern for Japanese gaming giants in recent years. Sega obviously suffered the slow, painful and entirely self-inflicted death of the Sonic brand's credibility. They've recovered in a degree; developed some other strong IPs (even if they horribly mismanage some of them, like Valkyria Chronicles). But they're not the company they were 10 years ago. Nintendo are heading for a similar come-uppance; their games are tied heavily to their consoles, and with the 3DS looking like no more than a minor player in the market and the Wii-U a pretty uncertain proposition, there's a good chance they'll put out a Mario or Zelda game in the next 18-24 months that will vanish without a trace.

    But yes, to return to my original point, for Square-Enix to concede defeat on a main-series Final Fantasy game will be an enormous psychological step for the company. Given that, it's only natural that they'd fight against all the odds (and with no real prospect of getting anywhere) to make the thing a success for far longer than another MMO developer would. It probably doesn't hurt that they have the deep pockets that allow them to do this; although such pockets are by no means bottomless.

  • Re:Let it die... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @09:07AM (#37748866) Journal

    Meanwhile US companies were constantly striving for better game play and new mechanics to improve the play experience (or addiction as the case may be).


    Don't get me wrong. I'm an old-time FF fan who thought the series jumped the chocobo with FFX and the removal of the world map.

    But claiming western developers don't, in general, ride the formulaic money train? What came out this year that wasn't either YAFPS, or an iterative (at best) sequel? All I can think of is Catherine, and Atlus is Japanese.

  • Re:Let it die... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @11:44AM (#37750612) Journal

    Western game development tends to be evolutionary. Yes, once in a while there is a game that shakes everything up, revitalises a genre or even creates a brand new one. But for the most part, Western developers take what has come before, look at what has worked and build on that, then look at what hasn't worked and repair or discard it.

    Japanese games development doesn't seem to do evolution. If a game succeeds, the developer will go back and say "right, let's make the same game again, but give the main character different hair". If it hasn't worked - or if they've gotten bored - they'll throw everything out the window and start again from a fresh template.

    It hasn't always been this way - Squaresoft used to be masters of the evolutionary approach. You can see concepts and ideas get developed, tested, adopted and discarded right through the Final Fantasy series, in installments 1 through 12. But they were always in a minority of Japanese developers, and they've gone much more for stagnation since the start of the current console cycle.

    Which model works better? Results from the last 5-10 years show that the Western model is proving far more successful. In pretty much every genre, Western games have surpassed their Japanese counterparts. Bioware and Bethesda have taken those aspects of the Japanese RPG that made the genre so popular during the 1990s and have successfully melded them with a more Western aesthetic. Turn 10 have put out 4 installments of the Forza Motorsport series in roughly the same time that it took Polyphony Digital to make a single game. The original Forza was nothing like as good as Gran Turismo 4. Gran Turismo 5 was, even judged kindly, only roughly competitive with Forza 3 and gets left in the dirt by Forza 4. Insomniac have developed the action-platformer through many installments of the Ratchet & Clank series (from really quite underwhelming beginnings), lifting good ideas liberally from the Mario games along the way - and the latest R&C game is pretty much unparalleled within its genre.

    The Japanese gaming industry can still put out the occasional piece of oddball brilliance; Valkyria Chronicles and Catherine are good examples. But the West can do this as well - Portal is a good example. In fact, there's an instructive comparison here; Valkyria Chronicles is mismanaged and ends up sidelined as a minority-interest PSP franchise, while Portal 2 is developed into a well-received and highly successful sequel.

    Most gamers don't actually care about whether a game is completely unexpected, fresh and innovative. They just want a fun game that gives them good value for money, which doesn't feel *exactly* the same as the last game they played. The Western system of evolutionary development is much better suited to providing this on a regular basis.

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