There are few companies in the video game industry who have fallen from grace in their fans’ eyes as much as Square Enix have. In a mere decade, they have gone from the company that had legions of faithful fans to the company who have legions of disillusioned fans. Square Enix have become living examples of what is wrong with the Japanese game industry – from overblown budgets spent after servicing their CGI fetish to incessant spin-offs and ports creating a “franchise fatigue”.
But they still aren’t beyond the point of redeeming themselves and even FFXIII’s divisive opinion may not have destroyed Square’s reputation permanently. Here are the ways we think Square Enix can redeem themselves in the eyes of their fans and successfully bring back the glory days of SquareSoft.
1) Reap on the Nostalgia
Remind the fans why they fell in love with Final Fantasy in the first place. Do what FFIX did by taking dropping the semi sci-fi/fantasy setting and going back to the medieval Crystal Era. Cut down on the flashy-FFVII-esque action and go back to what FFIV and FFVI did with less flash but compensated it with more substance.
2) Art Deja Vu Overdose
Many Final Fantasy fans seem to have a common complaint that the art and character design in recent Final Fantasy titles have become too familiar and difficult to distinguish. Our advice: Drop Nomura for a couple of more main-series FF and bring back Yoshitaka Amano. FACT: Everyone loves Amano’s artwork.
3) Less Milking
If Final Fantasy was a cow, then it would have swollen udders from the sheer amount of milking Square Enix subjects the franchise to. Spin-offs, forced sequels and ports on every imaginable platform, Square have clearly not heard of “franchise fatigue”.
A focus on quality over quantity might help Square overturn the losses they have consistently been seeing for the past few years. And of course Square, there is a little shocking concept called “new IPs”.Try that sometime, OK?
4) Resurrect a Beloved Franchise
Square Enix must be specially talented at being ignorant to sit on top of a mountain of IP gold and being interested only in milking a select few franchises. If Square knows how to make their fans excited for their games, then a slight mention of a new Chrono game would send their fans into hyper-excitement.
Or even a sequel of the acclaimed The World Ends With You would do the trick. Hell, in this day and age of Demon’s/Dark Souls , the eternally underrated PS1 classic Vagrant Story would be a perfect fit to benefit from such a craze.
5) Grow Up
Fans have grown up but Square hasn’t. FFIV and FFVI were more mature than most of the games – Final Fantasy or not that came after them. Take a leaf from SMT/Persona and go for unique storylines. A total reboot in the Final Fantasy formula. It’s risky but if Square have been noticing the trend, risky is what is working in the JRPG genre lately. Persona, Monster Hunter, Xenoblade – you get the hint Square, we suggest you take it.
6) Fulfill the Promises
Nothing annoys fans more than unfulfilled promises. Square Enix teased the entire world to the dark and neo-realistic world of Versus XIII. Since then, the game has fought a continuous battle between vaporware and relevance. It’s just one year away from being another Duke Nukem Forever.
There’s also Kingdom Hearts III which fans have been demanding ever since the previous generation dawned in. Instead, Square has kept releasing KH games nobody cares about and a good number of fan sites and forums have died since then due to the disinterest. The dead forum blood is on your hands,Square!
7) Final Fantasy VII Remake
We all know that it is coming at some point of time. And we all have our own opinions on whether Square’s PlayStation classic is capable of transitioning into the new era with a respectable amount of glory compared to what it was when it was released 15 years back.
That’s besides the point of this article. If Square wants to make their disillusioned fans excited for a game – forget about any FFXIII sequel or another MMO – FFVII is the best way to get people talking. Forums will be hot with discussion and there will be the occasional flaming and trolling.
Because as far as most SquareSoft fans remember, they were an important part of what being a “Final Fantasy fan” meant when both the company and the franchise were at their heights. You weren’t just excited about the next FF quite simply because you could never have enough of the great RPGs Square treated you with. Chrono, Vagrant Story, Tactics — these are names of just few franchises that Square has outrightly ignored and in favour of exactly what? MMOs and FFXIII sequels that neither its fans nor its vocal critics ever asked for?
It shouldn’t really be that difficult for Square Enix to redeem themselves. Not when their entire fanbase — disillusioned or not — whether they hate FFXIII’s guts or love it are wanting Square to redeem themselves. You can’t really go wrong when your entire fanbase wants you to be successful again.
Of course, for that Square has to realize there is something wrong with their company and decide to redeem themselves.
Well, that’s the tough part, isn’t it?