A couple of days ago, the transcript of the latest Square Enix investor conference and Q&A surfaced online, and it caused many to simply freak out.
The transcript indicated the slide below, and included the following comment by CEO Yosuke Matsuda:
“This slide shows our release lineup for FY2017/3 as well as for FY2018/3 and beyond. We plan to launch each of these upcoming titles in the next three years or so.”
This caused many to believe that it might take three years for Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts III to be released.
The primary trigger of that misconception is the misleading way certain sites reported the news. Journalists put the spotlight exclusively on Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy (because they’re the hit-grabbers) and either confined the Marvel IP License to the small print or omitted it completely, especially in headlines.
Reckless headlines like “Ouch, Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII remake to launch ‘in the next three years or so’” contributed to throw many people’s perception completely off-target.
Omitting or shifting the focus away from the Marvel IP license is one of the key problems here; Matsuda-san was talking about the games as a group, and not giving specific information about any of them individually. This kind of vagueness is very common when talking to investors.
We already know that the first game of the Marvel IP license will be the one by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montréal based on the Avengers franchise. In this context, it’s pretty much a known quantity, because it will be revealed only in 2018. Due to that, a release in three years is a realistic time frame.
By ignoring that game, many articles prompted a large percentage of their readers (as it’s pretty easy to read in the comments), to believe that one of or even both Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts III will take three years to hit store shelves.
On the other hand, what Matsuda meant is that Final Fantasy VII Remake, Kingdom Hearts III and the Avengers game will all be out within three years. There’s nothing strange or surprising in that, since the Avengers game hasn’t even been revealed yet.
He said absolutely nothing new or specific about Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts III. All we know is that they don’t have an announced release date, and they’re slated for “FY2018/3 and Beyond.”
In financial lingo, FY2018/3 means the fiscal year ending on March 31st, 2018. It starts on April 31st, 2017, so we’re already in it.
Basically, all we learned from Matsuda-san’s line (in combination with the slide) is that the three games in question will hit the shelves between tomorrow and three years from now. There is absolutely zero indication that either Final Fantasy VII Remake or Kingdom Hearts III will take three years to be on our PS4 or Xbox One consoles.
As a matter of fact, considering that Square Enix plans to release 1-2 blockbuster games a year, it’s much more probable that we’ll see them around the next one or two years (at least the first episode, in the case of Final Fantasy VII).
There have been a few alarmist articles alleging that the development of the games is behind schedule, but those are based on mistranslation (you’d be surprised by how many use Google Translator as a base for articles) or misinterpretation of interview answers in Japanese reported out of context, and bear little weight.
Speaking of translation, the clincher about Matsuda-san’s line is that this kind of transcript is normally summarized more than translated. Having followed this kind of conference for years, I’m intimately familiar with this concept. This leads to unfortunate wording when presenting the English version.
The quote reported by every site that jumped on this is the English one:
“We plan to launch each of these upcoming titles in the next three years or so.”
Of course, no one thought to check out the Japanese version. Why would they, when they’re offered an English translation on a silver platter, right?
Wrong. The Japanese version actually says:
“We plan to launch them sequentially over the next three years or so.”
That’s quite different, and clearly indicates that “three years or so” is an upper limit (obviously to be associated with the Avengers game), with the other titles slated to come earlier than that in sequence.
The funny element in this story is that every quarter, when the slide showcased above gets published as part of Square Enix’s financial presentation, someone interprets it wrongly, and misleading articles follow. You’d think they’d have learned by now.
In conclusion, if this whole hubbub caused you to worry that you’ll have to wait three years to play Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts III, you shouldn’t be concerned. That’s most probably not the case, and this is just the result of poor wording combined with bad reporting and sensationalism.
On the other hand, the transcript did mention something rather interesting. At the end of the conference, Matsuda-san explained that in principle the publisher plans to offer its content on all platforms.
Considering that both Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts III are based on the super-flexible Unreal Engine 4, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them expand to other consoles, or at least PC. Of course nothing is set in stone for now, but you might want to keep this possibility in mind.