The Fall of Final Fantasy Part I: The Decline of Square Enix and Its Flagship Franchise



I have to click a link to read the story? Fuck that. Just quote all the important bits so that we can click the link for more information if we want to.


This is the most interesting bit to me (emphasis mine):

"Another huge influence on Final Fantasy has been the western world. I’m not entirely sure whether this stems from Sakaguchi’s departure, the merger, both, or neither, but it’s definitely there. Granted, a lot of this is rooted in Final Fantasy XI, as well, which took the linear, story-based formula the series has become known for and stuck it in an MMO. Obviously, this was Square Enix’s chance to compete on a new front, but it caused another drastic evolution fueled by the “need” to westernize."

The two prevalent examples are open world exploration and non-linearity. MMOs function this way, but that doesn’t mean non-MMO RPGs have to. Alas, western RPGs such as The Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age have adopted a non-linear approach, and for whatever reason critics and gamers alike have come to expect Final Fantasy to do the same. One of the reasons may be Final Fantasy XII, which aimed to be a MMORPG that wasn’t online. Curiously, however, XIII did a 180 and became probably the most linear game of the franchise.”

“There was an outcry that the game was too straightforward and didn’t feature enough exploration, so Square Enix took a different direction with the sequels. The primary issue with this is not that critics and fans were wrong about XIII’s linearity; they were wrong about the nature of Final Fantasy as a whole. Perhaps XIII went overboard, but the franchise has never been about exploration and non-linear gameplay. Sure, earlier titles had open world maps and some optional areas like caverns to explore, but even the original game, with such a limited story, was fairly straightforward. With IV, the driving force became story, and a linear plot calls for a linear game. Any choice the player is offered in Final Fantasy is illusory; even Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, boasting exploration and non-linearity, has one ending (unless you fail to complete the main quests, in which case you are forced to start over from the beginning).”


Isn’t there an actual FF thread you could’ve posted this in?


Since the article is basically a case study on how a publisher manages a flagship title, I thought it would be of interest to everyone, not just FF fans. I find the crossroad between innovative game design and the management of outside expectations fascinating, and not just limited to RPGs (see: Street Fighter III). I might be overestimating the forums a bit, but putting a little thought into the games we play is a good thing, I think. YMMV, of course.


FFX-2 happened, it was shit and god awful and the franchise never recovered. The end.


FFx-2 is amazing.


The female centric story makes it look bad, but I love females


Linear games are not always bad. If the story is good, with enjoyable characters, and the battle system or whatever game mechanics it uses is good, then it’s all gravy with me. Sometimes, you just want to enjoy a well written story. FF13 being linear isn’t the only reason it was bad.


what will SWBeta stream now?



Also Lightning Returns is fun for the combat and not way too much else. I think it to be odd that you cant actually upgrade any items until NG+ though.


They kept over hyping each game as being something magical since VII blew us all away and when the games fail to match the hype Square, now Square Enix sold people on before the release they liked the franchise less and less. Happens all the time with different media and sequels or spinoffs or such. Square Enix’s best course of action would be to step away from FF or at least not trying to hype the next installment as THE blockbuster RPG of the next/current generation for a while.

Focus on actually making the game play good and let the results speak for themselves.