Yesterday many people reacted to the somber news that the President of Square Enix Yoichi Wada will be stepping down as acting President in the company since the year 2000. Some reacted to this with confusion, they weren’t sure who Wada is or why this was happening and wondered if it meant Square Enix would go broke soon. Others saw it purely as something to laugh at, first EA’s Richotella stepping down just a few days prior and now Square Enix was seeing the resignation of their president. Perhaps some gamers even saw this as a way for highly ranking executives to either A) cut-and-run for damages they did to the industry through what many gamers considered to be malicious publishing practices or B) somehow stage a revolution of sorts by walking out on the company that would do such things. The reality is none of these are truly the perspective we should be focused on, what really went wrong gamers?
Final Fantasy XIII is just three words (say it with me now, ‘thirteen’). But three words that stay in gamers’ mouths and continue to make a bad stink for Square Enix and one of the largest and most passionate RPG fanbases in the world. Even worse, let’s mention ‘thirteen dash’ also known as Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Lightning Returns. These titles are loved by some, and yet they are viewed by many long-term gamers as marks against the record of grace Square Enix and Wada have enjoyed together since his corporate control of the company over the past 13 years. When fans began to feel desperate with their disgust in Final Fantasy XIII’s lack of towns, lack of open-world environments, lack of most next-gen features, they were not able to accept that amazing graphics and a unique new universe with each major installment was enough for Final Fantasy.
Suddenly, fans wanted the old Final Fantasy back. Demands for remakes began to flood Square Enix repeatedly, and although all of their classics are revered as the best by some niche amounts of players, the great majority of these demands all agreed that a Final Fantasy VII would cure all bad fan to developer relations they had perceived as taking place by the subjective disappointment of about half the crowd (or more) that bought Final Fantasy XIII. Putting aside for a moment the fact that Final Fantasy’s most exciting prospect is its concept of reinvention and brand new ideas and universes being introduced with each title.
In Final Fantasy VI we saw the Super Nintendo turn into a storytelling machine that defeated VHS players for depth, soul, and raw emotion with some of the most powerful plot elements and themes ever created. The game’s successor Final Fantasy VII was released to the PlayStation system later down the line and even though these two games have absolutely zero crossover characters, storylines, or plot themes Final Fantasy VII managed to achieve equal or even greater success in terms of art (which was also followed by a huge success in terms of business and sales).
Maybe fans are right, and the Final Fantasy series has taken a turn for the worst. But this isn’t all about Final Fantasy. As Square Enix grew into itself being a major publisher in the western industry they knew Final Fantasy was not the only thing we needed from them. The company began to scoop up companies that were either going under or struggling, even just looking for a new business partner, to release new iterations to strongly revered western IP’s with.
Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution are two titles that fans clamored for, much like how FF fans demand FF7 (FFVII) remakes, fans have been dying to see these franchises see a next-generation rebirth as well as play the classics in HD. Square Enix made both of these things possible for Tomb Raider and Hitman developers to deliver with the release of Tomb Raider Trilogy (in High Def) and Hitman Trilogy HD which served as fan service leading up to the release of the Hitman: Absolution and 2013’s Tomb Raider.
Despite giving fans of both the Hitman and Tomb Raider franchises exactly what they wanted, not to mention bringing back Deus Ex before all of this, Square Enix was met with less sales than expected for Tomb Raider’s 2013 entry and the Hitman: Absolution title. Whether the corporation set their goals way too high for a globally downturning economy or not, we aren’t sure. But one thing we know is this. If fans continue to demand rehashes and remakes of the same old IP’s, franchises, and even demand remakes for a particular title (Examples: Socom II, Final Fantasy VII) only to turn around and not heavily invest in these products makes us want to cut the games right here and call their bluff.
Stop. Stop asking for remakes of games. Reminiscing about the good old days is something we all love to do, and should be encouraged. Fantasizing about remakes and trashing newly released product is counter-productive. The statistics are trying to tell us that even though a few hundred thousand forum members and blog contributors try to represent the entire population of millions of gamers by demanding remakes and hyper-criticizing every move a company as large as Square Enix makes, when push comes to shove they are not (and do not represent) the main buyers of games and do not back up their words with their dollars.
If you are one of the gamers that has been demanding a new Hitman, demanding a Hitman HD Remake, you got both. If you are one of those gamers that has been itching for a new Tomb Raider, scratching for more Tomb Raider remakes, all of your dreams just came true. Except you had the wrong dream, you’re bored of the same old IP’s and you should have demanded innovation and new experiences instead of trying to relive the past which was golden and perfect in its moment. I’m all for Retro games, I still play from time to time. However, there’s no recreating that first moment, and not all games age well.
Unfortunately the big picture is this industry’s obsession with retro-fitting every game from the past into the new production formulas of today should be as shunned as it is in the Film industry. If a company wants to set out to do the best remake they can make, we should encourage them to keep in mind that we need new content as well. And if a company releases new content, buy it. The mass extinction of good ideas is a result of poor support from those who claim to live for the innovation of this industry but are much more focused on their Platinum trophies and Gamerscore. If you are one of these gamers, it’s your fault that the President of Square Enix is stepping down.
As gamers we all need to take a deep breath and stop putting more strain than is already on the developer to publisher relationship by making selfish demands the community as a whole doesn’t need and won’t financially support.