Really, they aren’t. Last week I talked about how the failures of Final Fantasy XIII could actually be a good thing in the grand scheme of the Final Fantasy series, in that it gave Square-Enix a chance to see what we want and what simply won’t work for a Final Fantasy game. Now despite doing a few things I really don’t agree with, I still believe Square-Enix (henceforth referred to as “Square”) can and will learn from their mistakes. Why? Well, despite everything, they still appear to be the only publisher that’s interested in delivering new and interesting products to their fans. If they weren’t, I don’t think we would have gotten Final Fantasy XIII in the first place.
I don’t know if this has always been the case, but ever since the original Kingdom Hearts released in 2002, I’ve kind of seen Square as a company that’s willing to take risks for the sake of delivering something new. Now there’s no way for any of us to really know if that’s really true, but I think there’s some evidence to be found in the games they released over the years. Again, I’d like to point to Final Fantasy XIII. The original game was a major change for the series. It threw out the traditional ATB system that had been a series tent-pole since the very first Final Fantasy on the NES. Changing it was a huge risk that could have ended disastrously, but they recognized that Final Fantasy needed to grow in order to survive and did it anyway. Now, recognizing the need for growth and doing it properly are two different things, and most would probably say that Final Fantasy XIII was not the proper way to do it. However, I do think that they do deserve some credit for being willing to try something new rather than sit back and play it safe.
Even more recently we have the examples of Rise of the Tomb Raider and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Even with Microsoft’s support, I doubt any other publisher would greenlight a sequel to a game the considered to be a commercial failure, much less one that was bigger and even more visually stunning. They’re still pushing ahead with the PS4 release too, even though Rise of the Tomb Raider hasn’t been selling all that well. Then there’s Final Fantasy XV, which will once again be a major risk for Square as a publisher. All eyes are on this entry in the series now, and all are wondering if it’s going to be the game that kills or saves Final Fantasy. If Square had wanted to play it safe, they could have gone right back to the old Final Fantasy formula. The game would have been hailed as a return to form and everything would have been fine. However, that’s not what Square’s doing with the game. Final Fantasy XV is sporting a brand new battle system, a big ol’ open world to explore, and they even doubled-down on the visual quality! If this game fails, it’ll be a disaster! They definitely knew this even before development started, but they went ahead and took the risk anyway! It’s something I can’t help but respect.
I’m not saying that Square doesn’t have issues, because they most certainly do. Their strange decision to cut up a standalone game like Hitman into episodic pieces is clear evidence of that. I just wanted to acknowledge that despite some of the outrageous decisions they’ve made in the last year or so, I still think it’s important to remember that they’re still willing to take big risks. They’re willing to try new things in order to deliver new experiences to their fans and customers, where others definitely are not. Square – Enix maybe stupid at times, but they’re definitely not the worst major publisher out there.
How do you see Square-Enix as a publisher? Do still feel like supporting them, or have they done one stupid thing too many?