5 Reasons Square Enix Is Facing Financial Ruin
Posted on Thursday, May 26 @ 10:27:49 PST by Heath_Hindman
I used to work for an English school in Japan that wanted to publish its own book series. The teaching staff reviewed it and took note of its countless errors, nonsensical lessons, and even instances of Oxford Press plagiarism. "Miyuki," we urged the owner in a meeting, "We have to delay publishing until next semester so that we can fix this." These books were beyond awful. The lady, seeing only visions of dancing money, sent the books to be published in their current form, allowing no teacher intervention. It didn't take long for customers to notice how bad they were and begin complaining, fulfilling the prophecies of the teachers.
Sadly, Square Enix has been demonstrating this same stubbornness and disregard for quality assurance lately, and this year, it's going to end up costing them $150 million in losses. For every The World Ends With You, there's a Last Remnant or an Infinite Undiscovery. Let's take a look at the main reasons for this.
Financial Fantasy Bore-teen
Final Fantasy XIV was, as admitted by the company's numerous public apologies, a rush job. Hang on. This is a serious business crime in my book. I'll let a company slide on cutting some corners once in a while -- it's a human thing to do, and every single person in the world does it at work, at some point. Don't lie, this includes me and you.
But me not putting a cover sheet on my TPS Report can't compare to the failings of Final Fantasy XIV. These were not just corners that were cut; they were slashes right down the middle, veritable axe chops to the chest of what could have and should have been a solid MMO. Yeah, yeah, haters gonna hate Final Fantasy XI, but heck, as someone who used to play MMORPGs as a job, it was one I actually enjoyed and came back to once in a while. I even might be playing it right now if I weren't so busy bitching about other games online.
FFXIV spent months being unplayable and is still operating for free due to the overwhelming amount of ass packed into Eorzea. I'm not alone when I declare that my anaconda don't want none unless you got fun, hon'. Right now, most people are not sprung on FFXIV, for good reason.
Now, where that comes into play here is that people are not as mindless as Square Enix apparently expected them to be. I can see how, in that position, executives might have wanted to launch in September regardless of how obviously incomplete it was, fully confident that the Final Fantasy name would sell itself. They're right - the franchise has had a way of selling itself this last decade or so, but not when there's a subscription fee involved. People bailed out on the game and reviewers slaughtered it, leading not only to sales below expectations, but the PS3 version also got indefinitely delayed, and they lost that precious, precious subscription money that is vital to the success of all large-scale MMORPGs. Running a full-fledged MMO for nine months costs a ton of money, and when you're not getting the subscription fees you were banking on, well, here comes trouble.
Bored of ArcanaBut the rabite hole goes deeper than Final Fantasy XIV. Remember Lord of Arcana? Me neither. Monster Hunter has been enjoying phenomenal success, and Square Enix wanted a piece of Capcom's pie. But Lord of Arcana was an unoriginal, unpolished, un-fun experience. Why? Well, like a certain Square Enix property would urge us, let's look upon the heart.
The Monster Hunter team is getting stuff done and letting their creative juices flow, of course wanting to make some bank but also wanting to deliver an awesome game. Lord of Arcana, however, was made by some people wanting to do whatever Monster Hunter was doing, because they crunched some numbers and figured out someone was gettin' rich off it. A Monster Hunter clone can be made with success; Namco Bandai did it with God Eater, which has tremendous Japanese sales and ended up getting comic and action figure spinoffs.
Namco Bandai saw what Capcom was doing and tried to do it better (whether they did is purely subjective, but hey), and for that, they got rewarded with a successful and well-liked franchise. Namco Bandai saw a great game and said, "I'll bet we could make something people would love." Square Enix, however, saw that game and said, "I'll bet we could make something people would buy." That kind of business gets noticed.
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