Is It Time To End The Final Fantasy Series?

Is it time to end the Final Fantasy series? This is a question I come across quite a bit as I browse various groups and websites on ye olde internet. It’s easy to see why this question is so prominent. After all, Square has been solely interested in developing the extremely divisive Final Fantasy XIII series this generation. There has also been the failure of Final Fantasy XIV, which has left a bitter taste in the mouths of may MMO fans, many of whom may not be returning when Square relaunches the game. Then there is the mobile game side of the Final Fantasy factory. Final Fantasy All the Bravest is one of the most insulting games I’ve ever played and it just further erodes any goodwill Square may have acquired when they were putting out hit after hit. Finally, the constant blackout concerning the hugely anticipated Final Fantasy Versus XIII has almost completely alienated Square-Enix from even its strongest fans. As I mentioned, it is easy to see where this question comes from. However, the answer to this question is equally easy. The answer is no, not a quiet whimpering no, but a resounding powerful no that can be heard all throughout internetdom. Today, I’m going to tell you why. 

You should thank me that I’m not using this font.
Before we start, let me give a little overview of the Final Fantasy series for those few who don’t know. Final Fantasy is named such because its developer Squaresoft was going bankrupt and could only afford to make a single game. As such, Final Fantasy was supposed to be the end of them. Instead, it was hugely popular and rocketed off the company and the series into the stratosphere. The series remained popular, but didn’t really hit it big until the seventh game in the series, which was so famous it brought the entire JRPG genre into mainstream gaming. Unfortunately, Squaresoft bet too much on a feature film: Final Fantasy The Spirits Within. This movie did not preform well, and it tanked the company. This led to a merger with Enix, creating Square-Enix. At this time, Final Fantasy X was mostly done, and it was X-2 that would be the new merged company’s first game. Even today, after the less than beloved Final Fantasy XIII, the Final Fantasy series is still one of the most popular JRPGs in the world, probably second only to Pokemon on a worldwide level. 
Would you hate me, internet, if I told you I actually liked this movie?
The biggest reason I’ve heard why the Final Fantasy series should end is because of declining quality. This is largely a fallacy. Many will argue which Final Fantasy is the best, and many will fall somewhere around six or seven, but it there is far from a consensus. As a consequence of this and the fact that every Final Fantasy game is totally unique, many gamers are disappointed that each subsequent game isn’t the same as the one they really loved. This has been a problem Final Fantasy has had to deal with its entire history. I’ve been on the internet for quite awhile and I’ve seen gamers claim that Final Fantasy has been going down hill since IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XII. What I can gather from this, is that people have no idea what they are talking about. Each gamer has his or her own favourite and his or her own least favourite. For example, Final Fantasy IX is beloved by much of the forum-dwelling fanbase, and I think it’s the worst post-NES era game in the series. This doesn’t lead me to say that every game after VIII is awful. No. You see, every gamer has their own favourites. There are many people who think XII is abysmal, and many who cite it as their favourite game in the entire series. The reason there is such a discrepancy is because of Final Fantasy’s trademark: being different each game. Expectation is as wonderful as it is terrible. Expecting each game to be Final Fantasy VI or VII will always lead to disappointment, and it stops gamers from judging each game on its own merits. 
This is probably my only reason for still liking Final Fantasy IX.
There are many people out there that point at the Squaresoft and Enix merger as the end of the series in terms of quality. This is not a good argument and reeks far more of conspiracy theory than anything else. Firstly, as mentioned, Final Fantasy XII is loved by many gamers. Hell, even XIII has a good segment of fans even if detractors like to pretend they don’t exist. More importantly, as mentioned above, people have been making the exact same accusations long before the Squaresoft-Enix merger. Were these people prophetic? No. All the merger did was create a convenient date for disgruntled fans to get their talons into. If it really was such a special date, wouldn’t the complaints be original and not the exact same thing we’d been getting for many years before? Square-Enix has evolved as a company and their switch over to being one of the biggest publishers in the world has changed how they approach every aspect of their business, but the merger itself did not create some horrible Ex-Deathian black hole. Every major company has had to change in response to the changing markets and Squaresoft would have done no different than Square-Enix and thinking that such a large market would willingly stay in a niche market is naive at best. 
As part of the charge of declining quality, there is the attack that Square is ‘whoring out’ the series. The fact of the matter is that Square has always been whoring it out. Final Fantasy Adventure, and Legends are not Final Fantasy games. Instead, Squaresoft simply slapped the Final Fantasy name on Seiken Densetsu and the SaGa series in order to sell them to American audiences under the impression that without the popular Final Fantasy name, they couldn’t sell those games. The same could be said with Chocobo Racing, or Chocobo Dungeon, or Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Hell, even using the name Final Fantasy in the much beloved Final Fantasy Tactics can be seen as an expression of whoring out the series. Now we have subpar mobile games like Final Fantasy Dimensions, or older Wii Ware games such as My Life As King or My Life As Darklord. Nothing has really changed. The mobile games aren’t wonderful, but Dimensions is a hell of a lot better than any of the Chocobo spinoffs, even if All the Bravest is significantly worse. There is no real difference with how Square uses the Final Fantasy name. They have always used it to sell products no matter the quality. Treating games like All the Bravest as if they are something new is being unfair to the company, or maybe it’s too nice. 
Please don’t buy this game.
Some people say that the Final Fantasy series should end because Square wastes too much time pushing out Final Fantasy titles instead of making the amazing new IPs they used to. At first glance this is a valid argument. Everybody would like to see more Seiken Densetsus, Chrono Triggers, or even Secret of Evermores and it is undeniable that Square has been more focused on their flagship series over the past two generations. Did you know that it’s been ten years since Kingdom Hearts II? That all being said, the industry has changed. JRPGs are probably one of the least profitable genres in the world. In order to create a large scale JRPG, a huge amount of money is needed, and people simply don’t buy them like they used to. During the SNES and PS1 golden age of JRPGs, games were cheap and experimenting with new IPs made sense in order to try to get a new flagship series established. This time is over. Making a fully realized JRPG on a current or next gen console is just asking to lose money. Square is still the biggest JRPG developer in the world, but even it can’t afford to hemorrhage money. Its name doesn’t guarantee success, otherwise their publishing endeavours would be significantly more successful, and maybe more people would have played Nier. 
Mandatory Nier plug – Buy this game.
I don’t think it’s fair to attack Square based on how the industry has changed. They shouldn’t bear the entire burden or a market change. The Final Fantasy XIII series has been criticized heavily, but in truth, it all makes sense. Every game is so expensive to make. In order to make all of the money back they spent on the expensive XIII engine, they decided to follow the Call of Duty/Assassin’s Creed/Dark Souls/Arkham/Etc, model and reuse their assets. This way, they can make more of a profit. By leaving the XIII series, they would have to create all new game assets, which would be phenomenally expensive. You don’t have to like this model. I know many who don’t. However, you should understand why they are doing it. Asking Square to take a ton of risks with new IPs is unfair. It is an unrealistic expectation that companies should tank themselves for fickle, unhappy gamers. People say that a new Chrono Trigger game would ‘save’ Square-Enix. However, the fact of the matter is that the DS rerelease of Chrono Trigger sold extremely poorly. Why should Square assume that a new Chrono game would be significantly different? They shouldn’t. Geeks and nerds are always the most vocal group out there, but they never represent the bulk of the market out there. Listening to them, even me, without any evidence is madness for any company.
This is one of the best games ever made, but if it doesn’t sell well that’s it.
That is me shooting down some of the arguments in favour of shutting down the series. Now I’d like to take a brief second to explain why the series is still valuable. The most compelling reason for keeping the series, is its chameleon-esk nature. There has never been a series out there that has changed as drastically between instalments. A Final Fantasy game can be whatever the developer wants it to be. Even if it would anger fans, a Final Fantasy game could be a Borderlands-inspired first person shooter. This adaptability is the series’ biggest strength and the reason that so many people grow so violently upset when the game changes in a way they don’t like. Here is a hypothetical: Square-Enix shuts down the series. Wouldn’t their next game simply be Final Fantasy but with a different name? Each game is totally different. How would shutting it down do anything? It would destroy the history of the series and not accomplish anything other than the fact that more identical Dragon Quest games would be made. 
Love it or hate it, but it was very different than the last singleplayer offering and that is a virtue.
Then there’s the fact that Final Fantasy games still provide excellent experiences. There are very few JRPGs that have been released this generation due to the changing market and the much hated Final Fantasy XIII and its superior sequel are better than the vast majority of them. They aren’t the best of this generation, but why would you expect them to be? I personally don’t think that any Final Fantasy game ever stood at the top of the generation. Chrono Trigger beats Final Fantasy VI for me, and Chrono Cross beat out Final Fantasy VII. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne or Persona 4 are easily better than Final Fantasy X or XII, and Xenoblade is definitely better than Final Fantasy XIII. I’m not disparaging the series. They provide some amazing experiences, but they aren’t deities. That’s the problem I’m trying to get at. People remember the series fondly and treat it like it is the best thing to ever happen. The series simply isn’t so infallible. Even the best game in the series has its flaws and the worst game in the series has its shining points. People need to calm down and stop treating every game they don’t like as if it is a personal insult against them. 
There aren’t many flaws here, but they exist.
Should the Final Fantasy series end? No, no, no, no, and no. That is my answer. Why would anyone want it to end? Is it out of spite because you no longer like the ever changing series? Or is it out of the mistaken belief that Square would start taking huge risks with new IPs or lesser sequels? They won’t. If you lose your flagship series, you don’t suddenly have enough money to take extreme risks even if you now have the staff. Chrono Cross was released on the PS1. It is unrealistic to expect that a new Chrono game would attract enough of a market where so many great JRPGs have been failing miserably this generation. This all being said, the real reason that people call for the dissolution of the series is because Final Fantasy attracts trolls and detractors like honey attracts bears. People love to attack this series, fans and non-fans alike. However, those thinking that gaming would be improved by the sudden disappearance of this series are insane. Should Square get its head out of its ass with failures like Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy All the Bravest? Of course. However, that doesn’t mean the series should end. If Sonic is still around, Final Fantasy has more than enough reason to still exist.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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