JoJoestar So I’m regretting this post because I think it came out too snarky and edgy, and I’d like to elaborate a bit and hopefully provide some context so I come across as less of an asshole.
Sadly I dislike most of S-E’s output, business decissions and management of their franchises since more or less 2003, which was when the merge took place. Both Squaresoft’s and Enix were awesome back in the day so I don’t blame either of the companies, but surely something happened at the corporate and higher level of management that effectively turned the ship towards a… more business and profiteering oriented company and less of a game development studio wanting to do creative and interesting things.
I don’t really know how much power Nomura really holds over the company and the decisions they make there, I’m pretty sure his relevance is a bit overblown, but at the very least most of their higher profile projects in the last decade have had a running thread in common of fetishization and over-stylization, a commodification of his particular aesthetic, for which the term “nomurification” may indeed be inadequate, but for convenience’s sake we can run with it to describe the phenomenon.
Most of the S-E’s big projects come across to me as phony in this weird way. They feel like artifacts designed to evoke this feeling of nostalgia for the past days and reverence for what Final Fantasy meant during the nineties, without actually capturing nothing of that identity and magic. They feel like less than games and more like products, they lack a personality of their own and feel like things meant to be consumed and thrown away until they come up with the next thing.
Final Fantasy VII is the perfect example of this commodification and transformation of a beloved franchise into “Intellectual Property”, something to be exploited and monetized, a theme park ride we can have every 5-6 years and charge us 60 bucks for. This isn’t new of course, turning FFVII into a cross-media brand/asset was already tested in 2005 with Advent Children and the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII project, and the array of stuff that was released back then (Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core, Before Crisis, etc.). For a moment it seemed like it didn’t work out, but it’s more like we had an extended break. Now with Remake and its episodic structure + Yuffie DLC for extra $20 it seems they have finally hit the jackpot and now we’re lucky enough to have The First Soldier, a free-to-play battle royale, and Ever Crisis, a mobile retelling of the old narrative set to come out this year too.
I still hold the original game in high self esteem (played it with 12 years old and it informed a great deal of my tastes and interests up to this day) but all this other stuff is very hard to take seriously for me. They seem to really crave an equivalent to the Marvel Cinematic Universe of their own and it’s such an obvious artifact of capital-oriented opportunism and corporate greed I really couldn’t care less about it. I guess telling a meaningful story with well-developed characters in such a context is still possible? It has already happened a couple of times before but I don’t have the energy nor the interest to find out. And certainly stuff like them selling all their western studios in order to have 300 million in cash to burn into the crypto trashfire doesn’t help their cause either.
So that’s basically my take, but I’d like to clarify that this is specifically addressed at the AAA branch of the company. I don’t hate Square-Enix as a whole at all, in fact, their low to mid tier budget output has been very interesting these past couple of years. They have handled some of their remasters really well, providing some well deserved spotlight for their lesser known titles in a way I think it’s cool. I also like FFXIV quite a bit and have maximum respect for Naoki Yoshida and his team, they have been extremely honest, earnest and respectful to their fanbase during all these years. Wish more game developers communicated to their fans as well as they do. So yeah, they certainly still have some cool stuff going on, but I wish it felt less of a anecdote or an asterisk at the bottom of what they are generally doing.