Rumour Control: Square Enix Losses, Alway Onlline Durango, and Final Fantasy XV

The internet is a boiling cauldron filled with an unimaginable amount of information, swirling around where anyone can obtain it. Unfortunately, there is a fairly large segment of the population that just isn’t able, or unwilling to interpret this information correctly, adding spin and controversy in order to rile themselves, and often others, up. Thus the widespread internet rumour is born. Something based on the loose interpretation of facts that replicates almost entirely out of its sensationalism. The reason that it’s particularly difficult to squash these rumours is because the primary counter argument is that we don’t have any information that would confirm that. Needless to say, that argument is rarely satisfying. Either way, I’ve been letting a couple of rumours develop before commenting on them, and with the addition of Yoichi Wada, the president of Square Enix, stepping down, I think I have enough for a post. The worst part about rumours is that they are often impossible to completely disprove, and I’m not going to say that any of them aren’t true, only that there are some compelling reasons to not jump on the rumour train when it’s based on nothing more than pure speculation or fanboyism.

Sorry to steal the graphic, but this one was too good to resist.
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1. Square Enix President Resigns in Light of Projected Losses

The Rumour

Square Enix is projecting such great losses that their own president is stepping down. The reasons for this are so obvious. This company has been teasing their fanbase with a Final Fantasy VII remake since the PS3 came out and they haven’t delivered. Versus XIII, the saviour of all JRPGs is basically vapourware and who knows how much development dollars they sunk into that, and where is Kingdom Hearts 3? This is on top of them doing nothing but pumping out sequels to the worst Final Fantasy ever, which nobody wants. It makes perfect sense that Yoichi Wada would have to resign in disgrace. Square Enix has brought this upon themselves by not listening to their own fanbase, who have been clear about what they want, and they deserve this as a result.

They both have red eyes so they must both be evil… get it!?
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The Counter Argument

How many people out there understand that Square has stepped up from being simply the Final Fantasy machine to being one of the biggest publishers in the world? The official announcement, which nobody read because they were too busy airing grievances said that it was “due to slow sales of major console game titles in North American and European markets.” Do you know what games Square has released in 2013 in the west? Tomb Raider, and Hitman Absolution. If you drag back to mid-late 2012, you can pick up Sleeping Dogs and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. All of these games have been majorly loved by fans, but are obviously not selling as well as they would like. It is impossible to put this on a Final Fantasy game because the last one released was at the very beginning of 2012, and it sold a respectable 3 million units (Half of XIII, but still triple what one would call a very successful release). It’s easy to say that they’re developing their games for too long, but the real reason is simple: their games aren’t selling as well as they projected. The worst part is that people attribute this loss to games like Final Fantasy XIII, when the real culprits are the critically and fan acclaimed titles such as Tomb Raider.

Sorry Lara. You just can’t catch a break.
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Square Enix isn’t getting their comeuppance for their bad business practices. If you notice, they talk only about console games in the west. In other words, they are very happy with the sales of handheld games in the west, including mobile gaming. If you recall, Final Fantasy All the Bravest, the game that Final Fantasy fans should be lumping their hatred on, was a mobile game, but apparently that arm of the corporation is doing just fine, so expect more business as usual if you’re following the line of reasoning that Square’s going to learn from this. People get so caught up by the fact that they aren’t happy with Square Enix right now that they ignore the more sensible reasons and get caught in the loop of “I don’t like it so nobody else does.” With this thinking, the reverse must also true. Fans claim that they know what they want, but fans are not a single person and they really don’t know what they want. So many want a Final Fantasy VII remake, but I’ve read numerous threads in message boards about how they need to cut the silly stuff like the cross-dressing, and fans take both sides and fight it out. Even in this simple request, fans don’t agree. Some fans have wanted the Final Fantasy X HD release to come out for two years. Others say that Final Fantasy X was the worst Final Fantasy ever and Square’s wasting their money on it. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is fans are not a homogenous group and pretending like they are is pure insanity.

This is a very appropriate picture. Here’s Wada and a fan has decided that Square rehashes their games too much, which runs completely contrary to the allegedly universal desire for a Final Fantasy VII remake.
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2. Durango (Xbox Successor) is Always Online

The Rumour

VgLeaks posted screenshots allegedly from the Durango dev kit, which show two major things. Firstly it shows that all games must be installed; and, secondly, it shows that the system must always be online. What kind of lunacy is this? Didn’t Microsoft learn anything from the Sim City or Diablo 3 launch. Always online DRM (Digital Rights Management, because nobody ever writes it out), will cripple our industry. Any service blackout will completely disable the system, and, if the servers crash on popular games, we won’t be able to play them. Then there’s the fact that many people don’t live in places, which have a good internet connection. Now Microsoft is cutting them all out, and simply to prevent a couple of pirates. Of course another reason to do this is to prevent the sale of used games, which are, allegedly, damaging to the industry. Since it’s always online, you won’t be able to exchange games across multiple systems or even sell your own property. That’s it. I’m switching to Sony.

And since you believe that, here’s what the Durango will look like.
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The Counter Argument

Listen, I don’t like Microsoft’s policies, which I find to be very detrimental to the industry, but this is taking gamer fears and piling them all on a bit of loose information, which is completely out of context. The biggest argument is that there is a difference from saying “the system is always online” to saying “all games require a connection to be played.” The first statement could simply mean that when the system is off, it will still be connected to the internet and it can still download things from Cloud or what have you. The second statement restricts all gamers in a way that no gamer should stand behind. However, there is no evidence that the second statement is what’s being referred to, especially since the literal meaning of the first statement is something that Sony is already doing. It’s really easy to see DRM monsters everywhere after the mess that was the Sim City, but there’s no evidence that Microsoft is planning to do anything like that. This is even ignoring that the screenshots aren’t even any more than rumours themselves, with no verification to their accuracy. Sure they seem legitimate, but that doesn’t mean they are final products, or that they’re simply good fakes. In short, the internet is jumping over something that isn’t even implied from a rumoured leaked screenshot of a product which hasn’t even been announced yet.

Microsoft may have dropped the ball for the past three years, but this is on the next level of incompetence.
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This brings me to a brief aside about used games. There is no evidence anywhere ever for the restriction of used games. It seems to be something that the internet just made up back when developers were being vocal about how they’re losing money on used game sales. Every new console from the Wii U to the PS4 has had it’s share of rumours that the system wouldn’t support used games, very often these rumours came from “reliable sources”, which as you may know, is about the most unreliable source out there. There has never been anything behind this other than fear. Gamers are afraid that they’ll lose this right even though it’s not even on the table. I’ve read so many defences against banning them that you’d think that we’d have to start a petition because every system is poised to get on the anti-used gaming bandwagon. The truth is that this isn’t happening, at least based on the information we have available. There is an equal chance that Microsoft is planning to release all of their new games at a $120 price point. Both rumours are based on fear, and neither makes any sense.

This is basically proof, right?
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3. Final Fantasy Versus XIII is now Final Fantasy XV

The Rumour

Did you see that? In the Playstation 4 event some bigwig at Square Enix came up and said they’d be showing us a new Final Fantasy for the Playstation 4. This has to be the long awaited Final Fantasy Versus, right? Oh wait, he said new Final Fantasy. Well that means that Square abandoned Versus a while ago and have instead turned it into Final Fantasy XV, which will be a new Final Fantasy. It makes perfect sense since Versus was a Playstation exclusive and this new game will be. It also explains the long development time. After all, Square wouldn’t drop a game into development hell for so long and not give gamers any information. They must have scrapped the project and reused the assets in order to build the next Final Fantasy. Of course if they don’t release Versus then I’m done with Square.

Well it will exist, that’s a fact. Everything else on the other hand… (The blog post that the picture comes from is worth reading so click the source)
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The Counter Argument

We all need more hope in our lives, and I hope that Versus someday sees the light of day, but this one is really stretching it. So we are to assume that when we are told that we will see a “new” Final Fantasy at E3, we’re going to see a game that hasn’t been new since 2006. Also, there was no confirmation that this new Final Fantasy would be a Playstation exclusive, so I wouldn’t hold your breath on that. Truthfully, this unannounced game could be anything, from Final Fantasy VII-2, to Agni’s Philosophy, to Versus rebranded. Or, more likely, it could be something completely different. There is no reason to believe anything, and putting all your hopes and dreams into seeing Versus this E3 is just courting disaster. What if it’s a completely new game? Then the Versus waiters will moan and complain no matter how good the game looks. If it’s Versus, then those who wanted something new will start complaining. We, as fans, have created a no-win scenario for Square, something we do a lot (Going back to the fact that the fanbase doesn’t actually know what it wants). Yeah, Versus could have been rebranded, but we also might be getting Final Fantasy Pony addition. Yes, there have been “inside sources” that have reported on this, but “inside sources” have been baselessly relaying lies to us since 2007, so excuse me if I’m not convinced that they’re right this time.

No, not the car. We’re taking the pony.
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Now a slight aside. Versus is not a god. It will not sweep in and save the JRPG genre, or Final Fantasy or Square Enix. You (fans) saw a trailer that you thought looked good seven years ago, and, suddenly, that game is going to be better than any game you’ve ever played. You got a tiny slice of gameplay, and thought that you saw the divine light. The truth is that no matter what gets released in the end, Versus will be a crushing disappointment because idiot fans are treating it like the messiah, when in reality it’s a game that quickly found itself in development hell (or redevelopment into Final Fantasy XV depending on who you believe). These games rarely ever make it out and are almost never good, or worth the wait. The problem is that everyone is designing their own perfect game in their head, and Square isn’t going to conform to that vision. Final Fantasy XIII was under similarly huge pressure, and it was almost universally disappointing because of it, so much so that there are many Final Fantasy XIII hate topics posted daily on GameFAQs despite the fact that the game came out years ago and nobody cares anymore.

Oh right, this one came from VgLeaks too. Everyone always says how they’re usually spot on, but that doesn’t mean much when they’re only going to publicize the times they were right.
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That’s rumour control folks. Square isn’t failing because you don’t like Final Fantasy XIII; There’s no evidence that Durango requires all of its games to have an internet connection; and, there is no evidence to believe that Final Fantasy Versus XIII has been reformed into Final Fantasy XV. The internet is awash with information and opinion, and, sadly, many of those opinions aren’t based on any of the information available but merely on gut feelings and hearsay. Truthfully, I’m sick of this kind of uninformed garbage. Some people blame professional sites such as IGN, but they have to post the rumours. It’s the fans’ fault that they are hopeless in interpreting these things. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Versus remolded, and I’d hate to see more DRM, but let’s get some actual facts instead of blindly speculating and calling it truth.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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