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Square Enix - The Next Generation?

simoniker posted about 10 years ago | from the starring-brent-spiner dept.

Role Playing (Games) 31

Thanks to GameSpot for its feature regarding a Square Enix analyst's attempts to grow the company into the online and mobile arenas. This new strategy "...has two main themes - one that recognizes the limitations of the current-console platforms and one that acknowledges the fascination consumers have with online gameplay." The analyst, Ichiro Otobe, discusses the importance of community above all: "You need to have something like a Final Fantasy XI that can attract a certain community of people. In a way, our content is more a kind of bait to attract strong community, and the actual content is offered through the communication with these communities [of players]", and also has interesting theories on the perceived decline of the Japanese games market, suggesting it's "...actually a shift of users' interests. Most of the people spend time and money for mobile content, but most of the money is actually going to packet fees, which, in turn, go to network carriers."

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31 comments

It's not Square Enix (3, Funny)

macshune (628296) | about 10 years ago | (#8827521)

It's Squeeeeenix!:)

Erdrick's masamune? Meteomore? Ahh, the possibilities are endless!!!

So in other words... (3, Interesting)

MMaestro (585010) | about 10 years ago | (#8827580)

one that recognizes the limitations of the current-console platforms and one that acknowledges the fascination consumers have with online gameplay."

So in otherwords, the acknowledgement that running a MMORPG game without a hard drive built in is very hard and the fact that people are amazed at the fact that PC gamers have been playing RPGs with OTHER PEOPLE for years now. Basicly meaning that console MMORPGs will eventually mimic and merge with PC MMORPGs, as console RPGs have generally focused on strict linear storylines for one player.

Re:So in other words... (4, Informative)

thryllkill (52874) | about 10 years ago | (#8827614)

"Basicly meaning that console MMORPGs will eventually mimic and merge with PC MMORPGs"

Final Fantasy XI already did that. When I am logged on my PC playing that game, not only do I play with Americans playing it on their PC, I play with Ameraicans playing on thier PS2 and Japanese people playing it on their PCs and PS2s.

Re:So in other words... (3, Informative)

Pluvius (734915) | about 10 years ago | (#8828140)

He meant "PC style," which tends towards less linear story and more nonlinear gameplay. But FFXI is an awful lot like most of the other MMORPGs that have come out, so you're probably right anyway.

Rob

Re:So in other words... (1)

MMaestro (585010) | about 10 years ago | (#8829361)

True, but in FFXI's case that was most of a consumer base issue rather than a 'lets try something innovative' idea. The PS2 market in Japan no doubt dwarfs the PC market there, while the PC market is arguably stronger in the U.S. over the PS2 market. Solution? Make it possible to play the game on both systems in both countries, in both languages, on the same server (for better or for worse).

Re:So in other words... (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 10 years ago | (#8832590)

the PS2 market dwarfs the PC market on both shores. The PC market is very very niche compared to the Console market.

PC gaming bigger than console? ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8834379)

The PS2 market in Japan no doubt dwarfs the PC market there, while the PC market is arguably stronger in the U.S. over the PS2 market.

I do not know where you get your info, but the console video game market is like 10x the size of PC gaming. PC gaming is still VERY VERY niche and fit a certain type of gamer (nerd). Calling PC gaming mainstream and important... is just utter bullshit.

Hear that Nintendo? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8827586)

Get on the Online bandwagon

OMGWTF (0, Troll)

i_am_syco (694486) | about 10 years ago | (#8827761)

"In a way, our content is more a kind of bait to attract strong community, and the actual content is offered through the communication with these communities [of players]"

So, essentially, what they're saying is that they're making a game structure and expecting people to play, and by playing, the players fill in content. Sounds like a pretty lazy and cheap way to make a game to me. -_-

Re:OMGWTF (3, Insightful)

Lord Graga (696091) | about 10 years ago | (#8827828)

Actually not. Imagine taking this to a higher level, like, Neverwinter Nights, where one of the great things is that you can DM your game.
Now imagine that in a larger scale, maybe, or just simply in a way where players can set up lesser side quests (find my goat, kill that group of bandits, etc). Wouldn't that be great? The more experience you got, the more complex could your quests be. Maybe it would even be possible to create a map on your PC, and then link it to the server.
Now that would be fun.

FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (5, Interesting)

C0rinthian (770164) | about 10 years ago | (#8827816)

Will Advent Children suffer the same fate as The Spirits Within? "We learned a lot from the movie experience," Otobe said. "This is really a new type of movie content." Reflecting more on The Spirits Within, Otobe said, "We should have created something that looked more animation-like. Think of artists. They have the ability to create realistic pictures, but they don't. They create artistic expressions. We should have done the same thing, but we didn't. That was a huge mistake."
This makes me very hopeful that Advent Children will be what The Spirits Within should have been. I bet aiming for a DVD release instead of theatres will give Advent a much better chance of being commercially successful, as the break even point won't be as astronomically high as a theatre release.

For the record, I thought The Spirits Within was a good movie, and a fantastic technical achievement. However I can see why it failed miserably in the box office. The themes were very much in line with those of the rest of the FF series, unfortunately those themes are not that accessible to American audiences. Gaia spirits are a little too deep for Joe Popcorn I think.

BTW, why is it that we can render near photo-realistic faces on characters, but their hands look like rubber? I guess hands are REALLY hard to get right. I know that was one of the traits that really popped at me watching Spirits.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (-1, Flamebait)

You Didn't Spellchec (717959) | about 10 years ago | (#8827850)

Gaia spirits are a little too deep for Joe Popcorn I think.

More like: Gaia spirits are a little too cheesy for Joe Popcorn.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8836943)

Wow...this really should not be considered flamebait. It's an opinion - albeit an unpopular one.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (1, Interesting)

*weasel (174362) | about 10 years ago | (#8828256)

Gaia spirits are a little too deep for Joe Popcorn I think

Or maybe the movie just wasn't that good at all?
If you enjoyed it, more power to you. But you'd be the only person I've ever heard say it was anything less than 'bad'.

Most people have much more strong terms to use for its quality level. And none of them ever mention Gaia as a shortcoming. It has everything to do with the lame characters, the insipid dialogue, the predictable story path, and the overall feeling of 'whatever' that occurs when a story fails to emotionally or dramatically engage the audience.

They make good games - but their movie had bigger problems than trying (and failing) to do photorealism.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (1)

BackwardEngineer (730035) | about 10 years ago | (#8828727)

Well, make that two people. I actually liked the movie. Yes, it was cheesy at parts, I'll definetly admit that. However, it did have its good parts, and I did enjoy the animation quality.

I think it would have done better if they hadn't put the "Final Fantasy" name on it, but that's all in the past.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (2, Interesting)

Rallion (711805) | about 10 years ago | (#8830726)

I liked it as well, and I agree with the point about the Final Fantasy name. Not only do I think it would have done better without it, I think I would have personally preferred a different title.

Sure, it shares a grand theme with the rest of the Final Fantasy series with Gaia. But the rest of the movie doesn't fit with the series at all. The games are all fantasy worlds with a bit of sci-fi thrown in. Some have more sci-fi than others, sure, the first part of FF7 was very modern, for example. But on the whole, the games are works of fantasy, hence the title. TSW wasn't, it seemed like it was an attempt to make it appeal to American audiences, but it just let me down.

To say it a bit more elegantly, in the game worlds, the sci-fi stuff is to an extent intruding on a world that was previously one of fantasy. In the movie world, it was quite literally the reverse.

Advent Children really looks like it's got it right, IMO. It still looks a lot more sci-fi-oriented than most of the games, but nowhere near the level of the first movie. The fantasy elements go a bit farther than, "ooh, ghosts!"

And they've got swords, which make all the difference.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (1)

BackwardEngineer (730035) | about 10 years ago | (#8832218)

Well, don't forget that Advent Children is a direct sequel to Final Fantasy VII. Yes, I do think they have gotten it right this time, because I have talked to all my friends, avid video game freaks, who are just drooling at the possiblity of a sequel to FFVII, movie-form or game-form.

I have the "Making of..." book and I am quite sure it said something about Sakaguchi basing the whole Gaia idea on his own ideas on the afterlife.

However, I am looking forward to seeing Advent Children. Hopefully, people who haven't played FFVII, whatever rock they have been living under, will be able to follow it without the need of playing the game.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (1)

Mentally_Overclocked (311288) | about 10 years ago | (#8828770)

I also enjoyed the film, more so after watching it a second time.

Although, one time watching it with a friend, we pondered muting it and watching the animation. After it was finished we discussed why we thought it wasn't successful while realizing it did have potential. The points, however, I do not recall.

Cheers

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (1)

Methuseus (468642) | about 10 years ago | (#8829139)

It was an enjoyable movie, with a less predictable plot than many blockbuster movies, better action sequences than the average sci-fantasy movie, and I'm sure I could remember other things to mention if I was more awake. The people I know that know the Final Fantasy series all at least liked the movie. None of them thought it was "bad". I think being a "video game movie" killed it with the general public more than anything else. My friend worked at the theater at the time and asked people who were seeing a similarly themed movie if they had thought about The Spirits Within, and they invariably said "it's that weird Japanese game movie, isn't it?"

But I know my area may not be the norm, and my group of friends was more enthusiastic than many.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (2, Insightful)

sketch7 (586310) | about 10 years ago | (#8829876)

I also liked the movie a lot, but I agree that the content was a little different than what normal movie-goers expect. They obviously used the Final Fantasy name because it was recognizable by many people but ended up cursing it as a so called video-game movie. Another thing that stood out about this movie is that it was a joint-collaboration between US animators and Japanese producers at Square, unlike Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children which I believe is an all Japanese venture (and it looks very good). Overall Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is an example of what people should be doing with CG, American animators need to wake up and stop pumping out animations that are always kiddie-oriented and start making some more mature content like that which is represented in Anime. Well, that's what I think.

Re:FInal Fantasy movie: Take 2 (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | about 10 years ago | (#8839591)

American animators need to wake up and stop pumping out animations that are always kiddie-oriented and start making some more mature content like that which is represented in Anime. Well, that's what I think.
Wonder what Pixar has in the pipes after their contract with Disney is up? (2 more films I believe)

The problem is more to do with public expectation. When people see an animated movie, they expect it to be aimed at a younger audience. Comic books and video games are experiencing the same problems. Once the general populace starts to separate the content (currently kids stuff) from the mode of expression (animation, comics, games, etc) then the artists will be able to produce material that spans all genres. (Stuff like the Animatrix is a good start)

Now this isn't to say that content aimed at children is less "legitimate" than mature content. Quality is no more tied to genre than mode of expression is. Ideally, you will have quality art and entertainment in any form, and any genre. Unfortunately, crap is just as limitless.

Mobile technology (3, Informative)

SuperMo0 (730560) | about 10 years ago | (#8828023)

I honestly don't see mobile technology being accepted as fast in America as it was in Japan. Americans seem to view their cell phones as a portable home phone, and not much else. In Europe, you see a rise in SMS/Text messaging that AT+T seems to be trying to emulate by pimping Ryan Seacrest on American Idol.

In Japan, people were more accepting of downloading things to their phone, but I think a lot of people are wary of the current payment scheme for much of these things, which is a large minute-by-minute charge for the download. It goes against a lot of what Americans seem to enjoy paying for (i.e. a set price for each one instead of an unknown amount of time).

If mobile entertainment catches on in America, I see it as catching on on a much smaller scale... of course, brands like Square Enix, EA, and Sega getting into the mobile field might help draw people into it, but they need something better than the N-Gage to let people know that cell phones are ready for video games.

(Apologies if I ranted a bit, been a while since my last /. post)

ignores critical point (2, Interesting)

tekunokurato (531385) | about 10 years ago | (#8828117)

Wow. What they don't mention AT ALL in this article is that squenix has a major online venture in china which is making up a big chunk of their revenues and winning fans and security in a market with four times as many people as the US.

Adam Ant over XTC, 34983493-0 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8828356)

You need to have something like a Final Fantasy XI that can attract a certain community of people.

Is the Final Fantasy fanbase completely different in Japan than in its American counterpart? Because otherwise, this is an absurd statement. Square has zero experience with this type of game and there has never been a Final Fantasy MMO before, so whose ass is this "strong community" being pulled out of?

In a way, our content is more a kind of bait to attract strong community, and the actual content is offered through the communication with these communities [of players]

Oh, come on... player-to-player interaction is the core appeal of any MMOG, fucking duh, it's intrinsic in the definition of the genre and right there for anyone to read in the first 3/4 of the acronym.

Basically what this guy is saying when you get down to brass tacks is that they're resting on their laurels in terms of the actual game and its quality, relying on the Final Fantasy brand name and the sweet hard-drive bundling situation to get an installed userbase... which will then itself be used as the primary selling point once the number of users gets over a certain number. IOW, a perpetual motion machine; free money.

Announcing that the game's content is merely "bait" to get users in on a big chat line is bizarre to me - even if it's true, why announce it to your marks^H^H^H^H^Hcustomers right out in the open? In any case, Final Fantasy online looks to be yet another example of form dominating content, to the extent of exclusion. It is set to be to MMOGs what Britney Spears is to music and what McDonald's is to cuisine.

Forget the Online stuff! (1)

Dolemite_the_Wiz (618862) | about 10 years ago | (#8828758)

Here's a real simple way Square Enix could go to another level with their company.

Develop games for the Xbox!

Dolemite
___________________________

Re:Forget the Online stuff! (3, Interesting)

Carlos Rodriguez (136019) | about 10 years ago | (#8828801)

Given the fact that the Xbox sells poorly in Japan [the-magicbox.com], I wouldn't count on it. Any game that Square Enix makes for GBA or PS2 is going to sell thousand of copies because the user base for those consoles is much, much larger: why spend money on porting the game to a platform that has a small user base when I could use that same money to make (or remake) a game that has the potential to sell a thousand times more if I release it in a console with a larger user base? That's why we have stuff life Final Fantasy I & II for the GBA and Dragon Quest V for the PS2 instead of any game for the Xbox.

FFXI was a perfect game for the Xbox, since it already had a hard drive and could connect online with minimal hassle, plus Square had already ported the game to PC. And Square Enix still hasn't released it for the Xbox. The console is not in Squeenix's radar as of now. And frankly, I don't think that porting or making games for the Xbox would count as a next level, anyway,

Re:Forget the Online stuff! (1)

SuperMo0 (730560) | about 10 years ago | (#8828942)

Exactly. Square Enix is a Japanese game company first, an American company second (as evidenced by the large number of games that haven't made it to American shores). They will only make a decision that will work in Japan, and given that XBox sells 500 units a week according to that chart, they don't have much incentive to develop for them.

Re:Forget the Online stuff! (1)

Dolemite_the_Wiz (618862) | about 10 years ago | (#8832358)

Well, 1) Rockstar Games made a ton of money when they ported GTA3/GTA Vice City to the Xbox. 2) The Xbox user base is not exclusive to Japan. There are other countries in the world that sell the Xbox.

It's true that Companies like Square Enix base their game development on Japanese based Consoles. However, there would be a larger demand for their games if games were developed for multiple platforms.

Dolemite
____________________

Re:Forget the Online stuff! (1)

king-manic (409855) | about 10 years ago | (#8832637)

Support this "ton of money" idea. Even if they had 100% penetration in the Xbox market ,they made 5 times more in the PS2 market. It's a nice secondary income. and a garenteed seller like GTA is a no brainer to port. btu the Xbox is a also ran, that will not get many premium titles. Most people with an Xbox also have a PS2. they aren't losing out much by not publishing on the Xbox plus sony offers lucrative licencing deals if it's PS2 only and it's a marque franchise.

Wait, everyone wants online? (3, Insightful)

GaimeGuy (679917) | about 10 years ago | (#8831244)

The only people who want online are the HARDCORE community: the guys who we all are: the guys who actually follow the news in the industry, and the guys who talk about video games on message boards all over the internet. The percentage of gamers who actually use online is less than 10%. Yeah, overall sales of online games are up, but really, you can't tell me that Madden's millions of sales this year (again) are due to online play in the Ps2, right? People are buying games which HAPPEN to include online features, that doesn't mean that they're buying to play online, or that they're playing online.

I find it really stupid how many people and companies think that online gaming is something that's being embraced and desired by everyone, despite the fact that games which heavily use online features, such as MMORPGs, usually peak at about 500,000 units in sales.

Of course, the sole exception to this is FFXI, which people buy just because of the FF name. The sad thing is, I actually know about five guys who bought the game, and now can't play it because they didn't know it's an MMORPG.

I'd like to see developers pay more attention to the online ACTIVITY of their games, monitoring that ratherthan the sales of their games which have online features. I'm sure they'll get a better idea of the popularity of online, then.

Re:Wait, everyone wants online? (3, Insightful)

KeeperS (728100) | about 10 years ago | (#8831631)

Agreed. I often see the opinion on Slashdot that online play is the be-all-end-all of games, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because PC games are more popular here. FPSes and RTSes are more suited to online play than, say, Japanese style RPGs or platform games.

Online play often seems more like a marketing gimmick than a neccessary gameplay ingredient. Yes, it has its place, but not every game needs to be online.

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