Square Enix. It's a name that evokes some powerful memories: what gamer hasn't formed some sort of emotional connection with games like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest over the years? If you play video games, you've probably played something developed or published by Square Enix. They've got tentacles everywhere.
2012 was an interesting year for the big Japanese publisher. They've made some good decisions. They've made some bad ones. So as we look back through the smartest and dumbest moves made by every major game maker in 2012, let's take the magnifying glass to the home of all things moogle and see what we find.
Owning Their Mistakes
Final Fantasy XIV was a disaster for Square Enix: even they had to admit that the much-maligned online RPG was simply not a good game. So it's awesome to see their company committed to fixing things. They've got A Realm Reborn—a new take on FFXIV that promises to be better than ever—coming next year, and the developers have been very open about their mistakes and how they plan to make things work this time around.
Same sort of thing happened with Final Fantasy XIII-2; although I didn't love the latest console Final Fantasy game, it felt very much like fan service for the folks who hated its predecessor, Final Fantasy XIII. Missed towns? Chocobos? Non-linear dungeons? All back for FFXIII-2. It felt in many ways like Square Enix was apologizing for what they had left out the first time around. There's something very refreshing about a megacorporation admitting to being fallible.
Even while their Japanese branch feels like it's floundering, Square Enix's Western arm is growing stronger and stronger by the month. Great games like Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution have turned Square Enix North America into a publishing powerhouse, and they've even embraced good indies like Quantum Conundrum. Next year's Tomb Raider is looking pretty solid, and there's always Thief 4 on the horizon. Somewhere. Hopefully.
Failure To Communicate
Where's Final Fantasy Versus XIII? What about the high-definition remake of Final Fantasy X? Why has Square been so mum on the North American future of Japanese games like Type-0, Bravely Default, and Dragon Quest X?
This culture of oppressive silence is certainly not exclusive to Square Enix, but they're one of the biggest offenders. The company will announce games and never mention them again, quietly slip things onto the New Zealand iTunes Store before even admitting they exist, and refuse to give straight answers or explanations for some of their decisions. It's infuriating.
Between Final Fantasy Dimensions and Demons' Score, it's hard not to feel ripped off by Square Enix's baffling mobile pricing. Many of Square's games for iOS and Android are good games, but few justify the insane premiums that we're asked to pay for them.
On top of that, Square has this nasty tendency to launch countdown pages and get us all excited about potential sequels to games like The World Ends With You and Star Ocean. Those countdowns always, always end in disappointment: browser games and iOS ports, frustrating the hardcore faithful who would love to see proper console sequels to their favorite games. Mobile gaming may be the future for Square, but do they really have to piss off their hardcore fans along the way?
All games were published, distributed, or developed by Square Enix.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 - January 31
Army Corps of Hell - February 22
Chaos Rings II - March 15
Quantum Conundrum - June 21
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy - July 3
Heroes of Ruin - July 17
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance - July 31
Final Fantasy VII (PC Re-Release) - August 14
Sleeping Dogs - August 14
The World Ends With You: Solo Remix - August 27
Final Fantasy Dimensions - August 31
Demons' Score - September 19
Hitman: Absolution - November 20
For these Year In Review segments, we'll be taking a look at what major gaming companies did in 2012, with summaries of their biggest news and releases, best and worst decisions, and lists of the notable games they were a part of. Check back tomorrow for another company. It'll help you relieve some pressure.