Saturday, December 11, 2010

Will this be the end of Square Enix OR Final Fantasy?

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)

After Final Fantasy XIII, I'm shocked with the review and the result of this game. The reputation of Square Enix (game) is dropped dramatically. What is going wrong with Square Enix?
Here are the reviews and impacts of this game(may not be true, just based from what I get)(not in order):
1. The map is too simple (almost a straight line) (5-6 hours for 4 chapters)
2. You watch more than you play. (more movie less game play)
3. The game is sold $5 (total 94% off)
4. The game is Rank E
 5. Square Enix stock price halves in 2 years
6. There are hardly any towns. No proper shop, only shop at save point.
7. Party is always fixed.
8. The whole game repeat almost the same sequence: movie-run-battle-run-movie-run-battle.
9. Moving around like a long marathon.
10. Party completely healed after each battle.
11. Main character dies, game over.
The most ridiculous thing is:
12.There are no levels~?!!
And the reason Square Enix gives is that they have too much work on the towns and all the design.
After that tragedy, now comes another nightmare.

Final Fantasy XIV (MMORPG)

I believe this is the second online game in FF series, first Final Fantasy XI, now Final Fantasy XIV.
Actually a replacement. FFXI ended in 2010 and replace with FFIV.

I'm an online gamer but not a hardcore, so my view may not be true.

1st problem
Usually, in online game, you will hear that some players play 24/7 and level up faster than anyone else, right?
But now they have created some ____ (I won't call it silly) system.
In FF14 they introduce a system called "Fatigue System". It's a total disadvantage to heavy players.
How it works?
Fatigue System (Tired System)
Only 1 hour a day (What?!) and if you play more than 4 hours, the XP will drop to 0 (Seriously?).
Reason: They want players to try different classes. The "fatigue" won't affect if changing classes. You can play more characters.

Dormancy System (Recovered System)
Fatigue goes up to 50% in 2 hours but takes 2 DAYS to recover.
2 hours of combat or 1 hour of craft will induce "dormancy" and dormancy shared over all characters.

All this are so blur as some complaint it's a false info or so...
So, don't you think it's just making players to hate them more?
It's totally a restriction. But...

Finally, they make an announcement: It's not 1 hour a day but 8 hours a week.
Well, better than 1 hour per day though. The details are:
Players earn XP 100% for the first 8 hours.
For 7 hours over this limit, the XP received decreases to 0%
Time limit for playtime counter to reset is 1 week.
The XP gain limit is not tied to any class/job but per character.
Drops and loot are not affected by the XP "fatigue".

2nd Problem
Everything just copy and paste. Some beta testers complaint that Square Enix just copy an environment and paste it in different places of the map. For example:
Not only the environment, the map as well. Like this:
I'm thinking: Can this really piss off the fans of Final Fantasy? Or it's just some beta testers so FREE that create this commotion?
I mean, think! Does it really matter? 
Put all this aside, I REALLY have to praise these testers who are so boring... Nice work-during-bored.

3rd Problem
I believe Square Enix is in chaos and depressed after all this matters and pressure, and so they "made" a joke.
You know Chocobo right? The yellow bird. Now instead of Chocobo, it turns out to be "Horsebird".
How is all this happen?

As for all FF fans, you know all terms will be in katakana (or explain as English written in Japanese).
But for Chinese version's sake, they want it in kanji. For example:
Guard - ガード become 盾備
Heavy Thrust - ヘヴィスラスト become 搦槍
Fastcast - ファストキャスト become 奥儀・早詠
Mythril Ore - ミスリル鉱 become 霊銀鉱
Main Weapon - メインウエポン become 主器
Chocobo - チョコボ become 馬鳥 literally Horse Bird
See?! But after that, all these changes are withdrawn. What a change that cause for nothing but more bad reputation.

4th Problem
Players discover a flaw which grants near infinite XP, allowing them to reach the level cap while ignoring the fatigue system entirely. It involves the combination of use of buffering and an amulet in a large party. Here's the result:

After all these horrible nightmares, they have to do something. At the beginning, the game is given 1 month(30 days) of free play. Later, players are given 2 months(60 days of free play). But sadly,
The number of players are still declining. Extra month of free play can't help.
At the end, Square Enix's CEO Wada Yoichi has admitted Final Fantasy XIV is "unsatisfactory" and stresses that the company is "trying as hard as it can to regain lost trust."
"The Final Fantasy 14 service is currently unsatisfactory, we're trying to improve it as rapidly as possible. We're trying as hard as we can to regain lost trust." - Square Enix's CEO Wada Yoichi
Wada acknowledges the release sorely disappointed the expactations of fans, but clings to the hope that the game can be patched into a state where it can be salvaged:
"If we satisfy the users who left us, they'll come back. On the other hand, if they think it's irredeemable, there's no future for it. We'll do everything we can to recover that trust." 
Square Enix profits have plunged and its stock price is at bottom. And CEO Wada Yoichi has a plan to reverse things back, including dramatic increase in the company's reliance on micro-transactions and item charging in its games.
"I get the impression that 'Dragon Quest' type users and 'item charge' type users have quite different feelings (about a business model based on charging for items). With the likes of Facebook, you can easily introduce friends and things spread quickly, so I fell it's well suited to item charges, with the game being free."
He followed by suggesting the proportion of revenues accounted for by item charges will be increased by 10% (from 30% to 40%).

Well, whether item charging will make its way into some of Square Enix's tradition franchises (assume by his "Dragon Quest" reference) seems difficult to predict. But one thing for sure, they are having a huge impact, financially, that I believe is the reason Square Enix sacks 10% of it's 3,805 employees.

In last month, Square Enix have announced the remaining players will be given a third free month (looks like they are struggling so hard). After a while, it just gone so bad but have no choice but stop showing the server population. The players population at the moment have drop below 22,000, a 48% decrease from the peak (Ouch~!!). Honestly, it IS very painful~

Now, Square Enix has sacked the team behind Final Fantasy XIV, announced that game will be free until they "can provide customers with quality service", and indefinitely delayed the PS3 port of the game.
And here is the announcement:

"While more than two months have passed since the official launch of FINAL FANTASY XIV service, we deeply regret that the game has yet to achieve the level of enjoyability that FINAL FANTASY fans have come to expect from the franchise, and for this we offer our sincerest of apologies.
After thorough deliberation on how to meet those expectations, it was decided that the most viable step was to approach improvements under new leadership and with a restructured team.
We realize time is of the essence and are fully determined to provide our customers with quality service. It is because of this that we ask our customers to be patient until we are able to confidently present them with a concrete plan outlining FINAL FANTASY XIV’s new direction. The free trial period will be extended until that time.
Regarding the PlayStation 3, it is not our wish to release a simple conversion of the Windows version in its current state, but rather an update that includes all the improvements we have planned. For that reason, we have made the difficult decision to delay the release of the PlayStation 3 version beyond the originally announced date of March 2011.
The FINAL FANTASY XIV team is working hard to bring our customers an unparalleled adventure, and we ask for your continued understanding and support as we march ever diligently towards that goal."
President and CEO, Yoichi Wada
Personally, I'm really sad, asking "WHY~?!!" Why are all thing happening? As I know, Square Enix is very good and job well-done in Final Fantasy series. No matter what I'm still support Square Enix as I'm a die-hard fan of Final Fantasy. I've been follow them since Final Fantasy 7 until now, even though not the first one.

Final Fantasy XIII
So many people complaint about the game but honestly, to me, IT DOESN'T MATTER~!!
If there are less game plays and more movies, then instead of gamer, I'll be the audience. I always enjoy their design and graphic.

Final Fantasy XIV
To me, I can only pity them for their hard work and attempting to redeem for their mistakes. But I just feel like they are patching more cloths on a burning clothes or putting out fire with oil. Things just getting worse and they are trying to keep the players by extending free play month by month, until now - long term free play until everything is fixed. This is what I call: to plead.

What we can confirm is, their stock price is dropped, they have lost fans' trust and loyalties.
So, can they revive Final Fantasy XIV? Will they be able to create a great game like always in future?
Or is this gonna be the end for them? I hope not.

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