Square-Enix president Yoichi Wada was recently interviewed by Gamasutra and, among other things, talked at length about the company’s flagship franchise and its future. To start with, he’s very happy with the amount of units Final Fantasy XIII moved. I mean, who can complain with over 5.5 million sold worldwide since launch? But, he does also recognize that some people (okay, a lot of people) didn’t care much for that installment of the franchise.
“Looking at the numbers alone, it is pretty good, because we were able to release the latest Final Fantasy in all three markets of Japan, United States, and Europe in a very short period of time, and we were able to reach 5 million units rapidly — and I think this product will grow further. But when it comes to the customers’ reaction to the quality of the game, some value it highly and some are not very happy with it.”
Then he makes this rather bold statement, apparently not worried about all the nerd rage that may be directed toward him once the Interweb gets hold of this information.
“I think this is a product that was able to meet the expectations for those who know Final Fantasy. There are all kinds of games around in the market today. Should Final Fantasy become a new type of the game or should Final Fantasy not become a new type of game? The customers have different opinions. It’s very difficult to determine which way it should go.”
Mr. Wada, I’ll tell you exactly which direction the franchise should go – right back to 1997, that’s where. Not visually-speaking, of course, but in terms of game design, you can’t beat the oldies but goodies. Okay, okay, I did not hate Final Fantasy XIII like many others, in fact I gave the game a rather glowing and unusual review, praising things about it that most other reviewers complained about. That does not mean, however, that I can’t understand the direction they are coming from, and I in no way am saying the latest installment of the franchise is better than earlier iterations.
I think Square-Enix should take a lesson from their earlier works in terms of game design, characters and writing. Bring back that magic that we so desperately want to see again. Don’t create an entirely new genre, or “new type of game”, as Mr. Wada puts it. Stop looking for the new and take a lesson from what made the older Final Fantasy games so great. What say you, Mr. Wada?