“We lost our focus” admits Square Enix president

by April 19, 2014 0 comments

Square Enix bravely sees the light

This week’s top Final Fantasy story.

Following the warm welcome around the world for their recently released RPG “Bravely Default,” president of Square Enix Yosuke Matsuda has acknowledged in an interview with Nikkei Trendy that the company has made some drastic errors in judgment when it comes to developing major titles of late, and that they intend to shift to a refocus on what made the company great in the first place:

“In the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience. … On the other hand, there are games like the JRPG we made for the Japanese audience with the proper elements, Bravely Default, which ended up selling well all around the world. … For the new games we’ll be developing from this point on, while this may sound a bit extreme, we’ve been talking about making them as heavy JRPGs. I believe that way, we can better focus on our target, which will also bring better results. If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for.”

Yes, these comments are real, as seen over at Siliconera. So taken aback by this admission were we here at that we actually delayed making mention of this news by a couple of weeks in case it was part of a delayed April Fools Day joke.

The SE president’s humility is echoed in sentiments expressed by Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn director Naoki Yoshida, who recently explained to Gamasutra that the relaunch of FFXIV as “A Realm Reborn” required keeping the original game’s title so as to begin earning back the trust of disappointed fans:

“First of all, the MMORPG usually requires a very high-spec PC, and with the success of Final Fantasy XI, the expectation for Final Fantasy XIV was really high. There were people who went out and purchased a $2,000 high-end PC and really looked forward to the launch of the original Final Fantasy XIV. With it failing, it was such a big shock and negative impact.

Even if it was a failure — even if we were to, say, shut down this game within a year and put out the next Final Fantasy game, that would lose the trust, and it would completely disappoint all of our fans. I’m sure there would be a lot of players who would say, ‘I’m never going to play Final Fantasy again,’ or ‘I’m never going to buy a Square Enix game ever again.’ I, too, am a fan of the Final Fantasy series. I would have said the same thing, too.

In order to regain that trust — regardless of business or commercial success — I think it was very important that Square Enix admitted the game did fail, but we want to regain the trust of our fans. It was very important to go back to Final Fantasy XIV and make sure that we fixed the mistakes, and go back and gain the trust that we had lost in the initial failure.

I’m sure that if you compare that with other games, you might think it’s a crazy thing to do, but it’s definitely important. We felt that Final Fantasy is that important, that we go back to the original game and try to rebuild it. Of course, if it were that important, we shouldn’t have failed in the first place, but… Yeah, it was really important for us to build that.”

Yoshida — who lists “An unhealthy obsession with graphic quality” first on a list of “Three Easy Steps to Failure” — also remarked that “within the development staff they are thinking more about what the fans want” and suggested that the value in maintaining communication with gamers has come to be recognized.
All this eating of crow is a drastic turnaround for the company who has faced harsh criticism over the past several years for not only being notoriously inaccessible for direct comment from fans, but also a number of design decisions many longtime fans found questionable to say the least. They often seemed simply unwilling to acknowledge production mistakes, relegating the blame for Final Fantasy XIII’s lukewarm reception four years ago to gamers simply looking at the development from the wrong perspective, despite the same source of those comments (FFXIII director and scenario designer Motomu Toriyama) later admitting “Even at a late stage of development, we did not agree on key elements of the game, which stemmed from the lack of a cohesive vision, the lack of finalized specs, and the remaining problems with communication between departments.”

Final Fantasy XIII was, after all, the game for which one of its artists admitted in an interview, “A rock. I’ve been working on a single rock that appears in only one scene, for three seconds, for the past three days,” prompting another employee to add “That’s how that team works, everybody spends a lot of their days polishing rocks.” Yoshida’s reminder that “An unhealthy obsession with graphic quality” can lead to failure is much needed for the Square Enix of today.

Perhaps they are finally — finally — getting back on the right track?

If subscription numbers for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn are anything to go by, they may be. As of this month, more than two million users have registered for the game, even if not all are currently exploring the realm of Eorzea.

Thanks for the Siliconera news tip go out to Site Contributor Shademp.

More Final Fantasy news

FFXIV director shares heartwarming story (Kotaku)

While on the topic of FFXIV: A Realm Reborn, its director, Naoki Yoshida, recently shared a story sure to make you smile about an act of generosity he personally experienced 18 years ago while playing his first MMORPG — as well as its downright adorable conclusion so many years later in the present day.

Ultimania petition continues to grow

As we announced a couple of days ago, Japanese translation and publishing company Interbooks Co. LTD is interested in acquiring the license from Square Enix to publish official English translations of their Ultimania source books on Final Fantasy. Sign the petition if you haven’t already and help bring these books to more fans across the sea.

As of this writing, the petition stands at 359 supporters. Respectable, steady growth — but it needs your support too.

Final Fantasy III to be ported to PC (Siliconera)

Over the past three years, the one-time black sheep of the Final Fantasy series has seen a number of ports for its 2006 remake on the Nintendo DS. First to iOS devices in 2011; then to Android smartphones, the PSP and the Kindle Fire in 2012; for Windows Phones and as a launch title for the Ouya in 2013; and now as a PC port. An exact release date has not yet been announced.

Thanks for this news tip go to Site Contributor Tetsujin.

Sony to sell its shares of Square Enix (Joystiq)

Citing ongoing financial troubles, Sony has made arrangements to sell its 8.2% stake in Square Enix to Japanese securities company SMBC Nikko Securities. Despite strong PS4 sales, Sony is also selling its Vaio brand and laying off 5,000 employees. No word on whether Sony Pictures will consider selling the Spider-Man film rights back to Marvel.

Thanks for this news tip go to forum member Captain Highwind.

Final Fantasy VI turns 20 (Kotaku)

Earlier this month, on April 2, the classic adventure of Terra, Celes and co. reached its twentieth anniversary. Happy Birthday, FFVI!

Kudos for the reminder go again to Site Contributor Shademp.

Video of the week

Following the release of two previous digest videos previewing new content in the upcoming Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call to be released for Nintendo 3DS on April 24th in Japan, a third has been unveiled, showcasing tracks from Final Fantasy spin-off titles Mystic Quest, Tactics, X-2, Crystal Chronicles, Advent Children, Crisis Core, Chocobo’s Mysterious Dungeon, Dissidia, Dissidia 012, Type-0, XIII-2 and Lightning Returns. Pretty awesome.

Post of the week

Some of our members have recently been discussing the topic of “What Plot Lines or Characters Do You Think Are Ignored/Overlooked/Wasted In The Compilation?” Forum member CameoAmalthea made some thought-provoking remarks with this post:

I think that Rufus dying in the original game works great in the context of the original game. I also like Tseng’s death, even if it’s not what the writers intended to convey. Elena’s reaction is a lot more powerful if Tseng is dead rather than injured.

On the other hand, I love Before Crisis and Case of Shinra (these are my favorite bits of the compilation ). To me, in terms of the over all compilation, it works to have Rufus alive and continue and expand his story because it’s a good story, it’s interesting.

I also really like what Before Crisis did in terms of inverting the narrative of FFVII by having you play as a Turk trying to stop AVALANCHE from destroying the reactor. It allowed the authors to expand upon the question “what makes a hero” “what makes a villain” to what extent are we “the heroes of our own story and the villain of someone else’s” or at what point is it clear we’ve crossed the lines.

The original game did a good job exploring moral issues by having you play as terrorists, which made you wonder if the ends justified the means, but AVALANCHE’s arc was sort of side lined once Sephiroth made an appearance, so I’m glad Case of Barret was able to explore these themes, and that BC was able to explore the themes by sort of turning the narrative on it’s head.

I think in terms of exploring grey morality, it’s nice to have Rufus as a complex, nuanced character who does bad things for what he believes are the right reasons instead of just a wholly irredeemable Joffrey type brat. Make no mistake, he can be a little shit, even more so in BC than in the original game (I may or may not have yelled at my screening while watching play throughs and wanted Tseng or someone to punch him), but I like that he’s also complex because it fits with the overall exploration of good and evil.

So basically, OG Rufus dying fits with what they were doing in the OG, and compilation Rufus fits what they were dong in the compilation.

More from the forum

No comments yet

  1. Prince Lex
    #1 Prince Lex 20 April, 2014, 01:33

    So it is actually real then? Can we actually hold out hope that XVI might bring back some classic FF structure of some sort?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Joseph Knight
    #2 Joseph Knight 20 April, 2014, 01:52

    Id love to see them make something with style, like Ni No Kuni, or some interesting shaders that dont need super detailed photorealism

    Reply to this comment
  3. Tash
    #3 Tash 21 April, 2014, 01:31

    Well, can’t say that Final Fantasy XIII trilogy wasn’t crappy, because really, it was. Out of the three, the third one was probably the best, but it still wasn’t that crash-hot. I prefer Bravely Default to Final Fantasy XIII. I’d love them to make Before Crisis-Final Fantasy VII remake, a new title to the Final Fantasy VII Compilation franchise, and even a full CG and english translations of On the Way to a Smile Final Fantasy VII mini series.

    Then again, you can’t blame the company for losing concentration, because everyone gets distracted, one way or another. I give my full support to the Square Enix Company in Japan and best wishes. Don’t you guys agree?

    Reply to this comment
  4. paleofan
    #4 paleofan 21 April, 2014, 13:34

    I won’t believe them until they make some worthy games. Square Enix disappointed me just too many times. For now I’ll just stick with Atlus and other less-famous company.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Russ
    #5 Russ 22 April, 2014, 21:38

    I think that people have finally woken up at SE. It has been going downhill since LONG before FF13 came out. Look at Final Fantasy X/X-2. How many times do we have to endure Tidus’ whiny voice and the Final Fantasy “hanna montana” game? I mean, I understand that the folks at SE need to “revamp” the games every once in a while, but what was wrong with Final Fantasy IX or VIII? Those games were MUCH better than X. I don’t mind XIII, but after the high production value of XII, XIII felt “confined.” I believe that SE (and to some extent the fans) have placed too much value on graphics, to the detriment of what makes the “role-playing game” unique. THE STORY. If you don’t have the story, or the character development, then you up a creek. Want to know why the games on the SNES and early PSX are better? PLOT. CHARACTERS. STORY. Better overall. SE, you need to go back to what made your games great. Don’t focus so much on “how beautiful can we make it,” but rather “what is the story?” “What characters can we populate this new world with?” Also, don’t focus so much on “corridors.” Focus more on the PSX FF’s, and how to make the WORLD MAP look better.

    Reply to this comment
    • Tash
      Tash 25 April, 2014, 04:25

      Well I think the best Final Fantasy games is the Final Fantasy VII Compilation Franchise and the Kingdom Hearts series. Both have great storylines if you ask me, and I prefer Cloud, the newer AVALANCE, Rufus, and the Turks(especially Reno!) 😉 But I’m also kinda interested in the upcoming XV if they hurry up.

      On the other hand, you can’t really blame them since they’re doing so many games at once(Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix, Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy Agito IOS, Dissidia 3, Bravely Second and….there’s another one that I can’t remember at the moment) and ever since last year(2013 was the worst year in history in my entire life), things weren’t that crash hot for everyone in the entire Planet.

      At least give them another chance. I have faith in them. THQ disappeared since the graphics weren’t that well, so, it isn’t just the storyline Square Enix can concentrate on. That’s how it works in the gaming world.