No one likes to be kept waiting for something they really want. Be it the opening of a blockbuster movie, the launch of a game we want to play, or for the pharmacist to finish filling our prescription for cowbell (a brand of pain killer), when we want something, we usually want it now.
And believe it or not, game companies don't want to keep us waiting. These groups tend to get vilified by amateur game journalists and comment posters alike, as if their presidents are steepling their fingers behind the desk saying "Yes, yes, make them wait, yeeesssss." Not so. These guys want to get that sucker out the door and make their money. An unreleased product gains no revenue.
Which brings us to the seven-year wait gamers have endured since the first presentation of Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Things looked great when Square Enix first revealed the three-headed Final Fantasy monster that included FFXIII, Type-0, and Versus XIII. All these years later, the world still waits for the third part (and outside of Japan, they're still waiting for the second part), while two other games — FF XIII-2 and Lightning's Creed: Sands of Time — have shown up out of nowhere.
People hate this. There's a reason that the highest-budget releases have strict schedules regarding their information and video/trailer/screenshot releases. Apart from the fact that things can change between development and launch, the whole scheme is also a play on consumer psychology. While gaming enthusiasts like yourself, reading websites like this one, might often pay attention to a game for an unlimited amount of time, many consumers do not. Sales data shows this all too well. The longer people are made to wait for something, the fewer of them actually care about it when it becomes available, with very few exceptions. Even on sites like ours and other discussion boards, we see people speaking about the expiration of their anticipation. However big or small the chunk may be, the fact is there are people who have stopped caring about Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
Seven years. If you were graduating high school at the E3 when the Fabula Nova Crystalis project was unveiled, you could be graduating law school right now. If you'd had an infant that year, your child would be going into first or second grade this year.
Maybe this would not have happened if the first title of the bunch had been received with the overwhelming positivity that had greeted the first 10 numbered Final Fantasy titles, and most spinoffs to that point? Sure, there are vocal critics and displeased players of earlier FF games, but each game seemed to have far more fans than haters. In recent times, however, each new Final Fantasy splits the fanbase, and the ones calling themselves satisfied aren't always the majority. Final Fantasy XIV had limited interest from the start, being an MMORPG; there are some series fans who just won't touch that sort of thing. As if that weren't enough, the game's launch was notoriously horrific. What Square once called "damage [to the] brand" might be the reason we're seeing a third Lightning title at all. Square Enix may feel the need to win you back before unleashing its real gem to an indifferent crowd.
That said, a re-branding might be the castle Square Enix needs. I'm talking about that chess move where the rook and the king switch places. You only do that when you're like, desperate, right? Fuck, I am bad at chess. The company may not have wanted to do this, but by now, with all the bad vibes associated with anything Final Fantasy XIII, they might have no choice but to put as much distance as possible between Versus and XIII. Some have suggested that it could be called Final Fantasy XV, and I think that makes perfect sense, from a marketing standpoint.
But will that be enough? Will people magically forgive and forget seven years of limbo — probably more than eight by the time it's released — just because of a name change? Does moldy sandwich by any other name taste fresh? Perhaps it can, if that sandwich is reheated in PlayStation 4's kitchen. I'm way better at cooking than chess, by the way. A move to a new generation of hardware would likely yield some amount of understanding and forgiveness from the mass market. But how much?
A new name won't fool everyone. Even the most casual fan of the Final Fantasy series is going to start asking questions after a seven-year wait. No matter what happens to this game, it will always have a certain amount of weight to carry; it'll be cursed with higher expectations than other FF titles. This is part of what makes it so important to Square Enix.
If this game comes out and is anything other than one of the best in the series, it will be a failure. People have been waiting too long for this to be a disappointment; if they're not happy with this game, they could easily be done with the series. With fans waiting this long, with the company to spending this amount of time paying people to work on this game, it needs the highest of fan reception, critical reception, and sales figures if it is to be of any help to Square Enix.