Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Final Fantasy 13: The 360’s Symbolic Success

My husband woke me up at around 5:30 am and before I could give a groggy reply he rambled on and on about Final Fantasy 13 coming to the XBOX 360. My eyes immediately shot open and I literally jumped out of bed to find out what the heck was going on.

And lo and behold, there was Final Fantasy 13 announced for the XBOX 360.

The night before we were both contemplating on staying up early in the morning to watch the MS E3 2008 Press Conference. For the last 3 years we have followed Microsoft’s E3 conferences ever since Jay Allard came on stage to talk about the ‘Soul of the System’ up to the point when Peter Moore showed off his Grand Theft Auto IV tattoo...and specially when Master Chief came on screen to finish the fight.



I swear...as I saw the Halo 3 E3 announcement trailer for the first time at
around 3 AM, when the ark was opening and that epic orchestral theme was
playing...I had tears in my eyes! I'm such a fangirl ---and proud of it!

We have always looked forward to Microsoft’s E3 conferences but this year we decided to pass it up not because we don’t care anymore but because we were dead tired. The previous week has been hectic for both us, specially since we covered and accompanied my brother to the World Cyber Games National Finals and of course work never ceases to be challenging. We felt a cold coming, so both of us decided to sleep early with my husband feeling remorseful that he will not be able to join the E3 festivities live this year.

But damn...we should have stayed up.


Kaboom!!! Teh Megaton has been dropped!!!

When we woke up, Neo Gaf resembled something after a nuclear fall out... The US boards were at a complete shock as if the end of the world had arrived.

And the gamers here in the Philippines were just waking up...

Immediately we posted the news in PinoyXBOX. I scrambled to get my thoughts together to string a few words together before pasting the Microsoft Press Release into the front page. In those few hours, I swear all brain function went away and I can just stare in disbelief as 90 minutes into the MS press conference Youichi Wada, the President of Square Enix, came out *again* saying he forgot to announce Final Fantasy 13 for the XBOX 360.

The reactions from the XBOX 360 fanbase was overwhelmingly positive....so positive that hardly anyone could say anything appropriate to describe what has happened. A few hours after the event, several of us 360 gamers were still in denial that Final Fantasy 13 was actually coming to the 360. Very few people believed David Gosen, the MS European strategic marketing boss, when he said that this years E3 was game changing.

Of course on the other side of the fence, the Sony fans encountered something close to heartbreak as well as disbelief. I myself was immune to the comments since I haven’t completely digested the news yesterday but in retrospect some of the comments made by those fans were downright absurd and hilarious. Let me share with you some of the comments that I have read...


“Square Enix are money hungry bastards who just accepted M$ bribes!”


Whooo boy... I don’t know if the fans realize that Square Enix NEEDS money if they are to continue making games. Not just that, its long been known that Square Enix is ‘money hungry’...I mean just look at how many times they whored out Final Fantasy 7 for pete’s sake!



“Square Enix should apologize to us Playstation fans! Without the Playstation Final Fantasy wouldn’t be a hit!”


And to that the Nintendo fans say...”Now you know how we felt when Squaresoft deserted us for the Playstation!” I had to laugh after reading that comment since in my mind the vision of the former Nintendo boss Yamauchi , clad in full Samurai Warlord outfit about to draw the blood of Hironobu Sakaguchi, presented itself.



“It’s a bad move by Square Enix since the XBOX 360 has piracy! As revenge we Sony fans will promote piracy for the XBOX 360! Down with the XBOX 360!”


Among all the comments, I read that was the one that sucked the most...specially since it was a comment from the Philippine Playstation fansite which was also reposted in Neo Gaf wherein the ‘gaffers’ laughed their asses off. The comment was wrong on several levels. First, both PS1 and PS2 (and PSP) were heavily pirated but that didn’t deter the sales of any Final Fantasy title nor did it stop other developers from selling their games and making money on the older Playstation platform. Second, supporting piracy out of spite? Really now...after reading that stupid comment, I recall why the Philippines is STILL a third world country.

All the hilarity and disbelief aside...

Game changing...those two words are best used to describe the addition of Final Fantasy 13 to XBOX 360’s already stellar game line-up.

This is the FIRST TIME, in the history of Squaresoft that they will have a multiplatform initial release of Final Fantasy. Through the years, I believe that Squaresoft / Square Enix released Final Fantasy on the platform which offered the biggest installed base. For the last 2 years, ever since Final Fantasy 13 was announced, they have displayed unwavering faith that the Playstation 3 will historically follow the records set by its predecessors and maintained exclusivity, for the core Final Fantasy games, for the Playstation 3.

Now Final Fantasy 13 will be launched for the XBOX 360 at the same time as the PS3 version of the game in North America and Europe.

What does that tell us? What does that tell to the whole game industry?


"The future belongs not to those who wait..."
Yep Square Enix followed their own game quote by not waiting for Sony to
gain 10 million marketshare.

Square Enix, one of the strongest developers and supports of the Playstation brand, can no longer deny that the XBOX 360 has attained a market share dominant enough to warrant a release of their biggest title. They can no longer close their eyes to the potential revenue to be made in the XBOX platform which has an established market share in the biggest of all gaming markets, North America. They can no longer ignore the successes of their fellow Japanese developers, such as Capcom and Namco, as they continue to rake in profits despite, dismal sales of their 360 titles in Japan, courtesy of the worldwide market.

Final Fantasy 13 coming to the XBOX 360 is an affirmation that the platform is a success.

No doubt, the whole game industry was shaken by this news. Every single developer and publisher will know the impact that announcement has when it comes to decision making. Game journalist can continue to hold on to the glory days of the Playstation brand but the rest of the game industry, the publishers, developers and gamers will move on. Square Enix has just sent a signal to everyone, that if you want your game to do well it better be on the XBOX 360.
Now what do we attribute this whole thing to? If Square Enix wasn’t moved by the million sellers of 3rd party developers a year ago, what made them change their minds now? Three things...


All smiles for the father of Final Fantasy as Square Enix heeded
his advice and actually brought Final Fantasy to the XBOX 360.

First...all JRPG fans on the XBOX 360 have to give themselves a pat on the shoulder and send letters of thanks to Hironobu Sakaguchi from Mistwalker. A part of me feels that Square Enix is threatened by Sakaguchi. Imagine a no-name game like Lost Odyssey, actually sold well on its first month on a console which happened to be the home of hardcore bald space marine loving FPS gamers!?! No doubt when Lost Odyssey made money, the XBOX 360 was suddenly on Square Enix’s radar. Mistwalker had the capability to usurp Square Enix because it houses several of their former talents, notably Hironobu Sakaguchi with his 3rd party partner in crime, Nobuo Uematsu.



Yoichi Wada laying down the law.

Second...Square Enix profits are down and Yoichi Wada is pissed, so pissed that it was rumoured that he got mad at the Square Enix employees for doing only projects they wanted and their unwillingness to expand to other platforms. When I talk about profits, I’m not referring to Japan sales. Wada, and the rest of the Square Enix shareholders, were growing increasingly worried that they are losing the most important revenue stream, North America.

True Next-Gen JRPG developers!
Third... Tri-Ace. Tri-Ace has two games for the XBOX 360. Infinite Undiscovery, which is a Microsoft commissioned game with Square Enix publishing rights. Next is Star Ocean 4, the equally shocking announcement of MSKK (MS Japan) RPG conference a month ago. Both projects are nearing completion, and most likely started around the same time as the development Final Fantasy 13. The games look very beautiful, specially Star Ocean 4, which I will admit makes my heart race more than the thought of Final Fantasy 13. Tri-Ace is proof that development for the XBOX 360 is something that can be adapted easily unlike the pressing rumors of the horrendous Sony development tools.

Right now only a few people in the media actually understood what has happened...Adam Sessler from G4 TV being one of them as he summarized in a shorter narration the immensity of the news. Yahoo news on the other seems to be just publishing misleading articles based on their contract with Sony. But even if the game press shrugs this news off, the actual gamers wont. Many of us are rejoicing that we don’t need an additional $300++ investment to play Final Fantasy 13 while others are bemoaning the loss of their $300++ because they bought a PS3 just to play Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy 13.

I, for one, am very happy that the game is indeed coming to the XBOX 360, not just for its symbolic meaning, but also as an all around JRPG fan. Despite my criticism of Square Enix, I cannot deny that the temptation to buy this game (which I will most like give into) is great simply because I already have the platform to play it. After Final Fantasy 12, I have grown hesitant to buy a whole new platform just to play Final Fantasy. Right now, I just hope for the best and probably start saving my money for the inevitable Final Fantasy 13 purchase.

This also spells good news for Mistwalker. My excitement for the development house that took such a big gamble for us JRPG fans on the 360 continues as I eagerly anticipate Cry On and other 360 announcements from Mistwalker. Right now a lot of JRPG fans who were holding out for Final Fantasy 13 are considering getting an XBOX 360. Final Fantasy 13 was the game that brought them in and I’m sure many of them will be very happy to know that the 360 has some of the best JRPG line-up with Tales of Vesperia, Infinite Undiscovery and The Last Remnant all to be released this year. While they’re at it, chances are they will also pick up Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, two of the landmark JRPG titles of the XBOX 360.

What an exciting E3 from Microsoft. After watching the cached broadcast from G4 (wow they actually executed their E3 coverage right this time!), we decided to stay up for the Nintendo E3 conference...and got disappointed by it. I woke up grumpy after losing sleep to Shigeru Miyamoto’s saxophone playing skills.

Well folks...Square Enix is now fully on board and they have reaffirmed the success of the XBOX 360. Now I have to keep my fingers crossed that they consider making the Chrono Cross sequel!