Square Enix has been a hot topic lately. To be honest, they deserve the negative attention. I remember when Square was top dog in the gaming industry and no one could compete with their high quality titles. Hell, that wasn’t even that long ago! But what has happened? I will tell you what has happened: Misplaced priorities. Square Enix is taking big heat from gamers because the famous gaming giant has not been doing what they are known for: Producing quality titles. Now I know what you are thinking, “Zach, stop hating on Square Enix. Final Fantasy XIII was great! They brought FFX to the HD world! They are even making a sequel to their new Tomb Raider series.” I hear you. I really do, but how do you justify $40 iPad games? How do you justify milking a mini-franchise out of Final Fantasy XIII? How in the world do you bring a PSP game to the Xbox One and PS4? How can you actually think any of these ideas could benefit a company known for quality entries in a long standing franchise (despite the naming being redundant)? I do not know why Square Enix has made these choices lately, but their presence at E3 was incredibly disappointing. They didn’t give me what I wanted, which truthfully is just a new Square Enix IP
When you think of Square Enix now, what do you think? Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy is what comes to mind. The two upcoming releases in those franchises were mysteriously absent from E3 despite their grand reveal last year. The point of E3 is to showcase your games. It’s to get the people excited for what is to come. Since the reveal, little information has been given about the new Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. Personally, I am fine with that. As long as I get some kind of promise or word that the game is happening, I can deal with waiting a year to find out more. When I was told to not expect to see either game at E3 I was irritated. Why? Because this E3 was a follow-up after a big announcement. You need to tell the people what’s up. That is like investing in a restaurant but all you give investors are pictures of the food as opposed to tasting it.
There is a way for Square Enix to bounce back though. It is both simple, and challenging at the same time. However, I am positive it would work. Hold on, if you are a Final Fantasy fan I am going to stop you right there. The way for SE to bounce back is not with a full-blown Final Fantasy VII remaster. That wouldn’t work, nor is it entirely plausible given the situation of the console gaming market. Square Enix needs to create new and original IPs again. Bravely Default is a GREAT example on what a new IP can do for a company. The game was well received by critics and gamers alike. It felt new, it felt like SE was actually trying again. They weren’t filling these nonsensical gaps with sequels to a game that never needed them. We weren’t shoving some ultra-depressive narcissist protagonist down our gullets. With Bravely Default, we finally got something new. We even got Quantum Conundrum. Surely not the most well-known Square Enix title and it was a different game compared to what they are known for. But the game was still different and new. It helped that the design was really well done too, from the level design to the puzzle solving.
Whenever I have this conversation with my roommates or even coworkers I always seem like a crazy person when I say, “Give Final Fantasy a break and give some new games a chance.” Square has obviously come from nothing with the franchise, but you can only get so far with that. I just wish Square Enix would experiment more with new IPs. We will probably get KH3 and FF15 late 2015. That is fine with me. I can wait. Even if KH3 and FF15 are some of the best games I will ever play, I will still not be impressed by Square Enix because I still feel as though they are milking the hype for these games just so people will buy whatever they are peddling out in the meantime. I am getting really tired of sequels from all developers/publishers, but I am getting really tired of it from Square Enix. I know my faith would be restored in them if they stood tall and were proud to announce a brand new IP available exclusively on the PS4 (extra points for Wii U exclusivity). Square does not seem proud of their games anymore, and as I played Lightning Returns, this idea showed brighter than ever.
Remaking an older game with shinier visuals only serves the purpose of feeding nostalgia fans. Gamers new to the generation will still find the game to feel outdated in terms of gameplay. Continuing to add sequels will just create more problems down the line when you are at installment #50.