As Final Fantasy’s producer Square Enix posts the news story regarding their latest video of Gridania, the excitement is building for the relaunch of A Realm Reborn. Recent reports have included information on the refusal of free-to-play, which was part of a promise made by the producers, but may have been a surprise for some fans. Given Guild Wars 2’s subscription model, where an initial purchase allows unlimited playtime, and the F2P move of SWTOR, FFXIV is only joined by Rift: Storm Legion and World of Warcraft and a few others in the big subscription-based MMO territory. It’s a bold move to demand subscriptions for a redeeming re-release, given the competition, and the temporary free-to-play in the past.
And given the earlier problems, which no FFXIV fan will be unfamiliar with, a well-known gaming site’s recent coverage of senior Square Enix employees’ negative comments about the company adds concerns for the latest iteration of this historically popular MMO. Square Enix posted losses in a recent earnings report, and former boss Hisashi Suzuki posted a highly critical tweet, asserting that the merged company had “no vision for the future”. While listening to an ex-boss’ complaints about a corporate merger is about as unbiased as hearing someone review their ex’s new girlfriend or boyfriend, it is concerning.
Kotaku recently reported on Square Enix employees “venting” on community employment sites about the company, quoting one employee:
“For each project, each position is then turned into a clique, and without a big time creator’s recommendation, it’s impossible to get ahead. One’s practical worth isn’t really looked at, but rather, personal friendship is how merit is assessed.”
“You’re given so much work, and the atmosphere is that if you cannot keep up, they’ll axe you,” wrote a 24 year-old employee. “There’s a tendency to ask workers to do more physical labor than mental labor.”
But does any of this admittedly negative coverage of the company behind the title mean that the game will have problems? Is a culture of “it’s not what you know but who you know” really a big deal in large corporations? Destructoid awarded FFXIV: A Realm Reborn the ‘Gamescom community choice award’ after the pre-release version was showcased in August, 2012, stating, “we’ve seen the considerable changes made to the engine, HUD and combat system, transforming it into a far cry from the game that disappointed so many.”
The video above definitely looks stunning, but it could be argued that it’s easy to showcase the best parts, and that the original FFXIV looked great before it was played. What are your thoughts? Do the problems reported at Square Enix mean that the new launch will be problematic, or are they normal, or irrelevant? Will Final Fantasy fail again?