Placebo Headwound

18 Jul

Microsoft’s E3 presentation ended with a well-timed surprise that received some mixed reactions: Final Fantasy XIII will be simultaneously released on both the Playstation 3 and XBox 360 in the West.

Most would think that this is great news for 360 owners and nothing else, but most would be wrong. This announcement has spawned forum comments featuring the words “lies”, “betrayal”, and “deception” among others.

I’ve looked into the issue, asking why anyone would complain about what appears to be nothing but a good move for Square-Enix and fans alike. After wading through a bit of ignorance and poor grammar, I’ve arrived at what appear to be the most logical causes for alarm, but even they are fairly lacking in foundation. Below are some forum quotes that represent the most common responses to my question (most grammar and spelling is their own).

The fact that a simultaneous release for PS3 and 360 would end up pushing the release date back pretty far. (source)

According to FFXIII co-producer, Shinji Hashimoto, “…since we haven’t ever announced any sort of release date…it couldn’t really be ‘delayed,’ right?” This is true. Any longer wait for the game in the West would be up to each individual’s perception since no date has ever been announced.

If the only reason FFXIII being ported to the XBox 360 has you cursing Square-Enix is because you don’t want to wait longer for the game, think about what “longer” means in this context. You don’t know how long the localization process is going to take, so to complain that it’ll take even longer because the game is being ported is a baseless claim.

I don’t feel that SE is trying to reach a broader audience. I think that their sole purpose is to have broader pockets. (source)

Expanding your audience and making more money are one and the same, and unless the quality of the company’s games suffer as a result, Square-Enix’s attempt to make money off a larger audience is just good business. It’s not like with Nintendo who have turned off some of their biggest fans in their successful attempt to win over a new, casual crowd with fun, yet shallow titles like Wii Fit and the recently demonstrated Wii Music.

Square-Enix isn’t planning on compromising the gameplay of Final Fantasy XIII to cater towards the shallow frat boy FPS fan demographic that some ignorantly assume are the primary XBox 360 owner. Instead, they’re trying to forge a strong RPG niche on a predominantly Western console, and this is very much evident with their plentiful cast of RPGs headed for the system (Infinite Undiscovery, The Last Remnant, and Star Ocean: The Last Hope).

Some people feel they wasted there moneys on PS3’s. If it was going onto the 360 then they thought they should’ve just bought a 360. (source)

If the location of Final Fantasy XIII was your deciding factor in buying a Playstation 3, you have no reason to complain. Aside from the fact that you’ll still be able to play the game, you were the one who decided to buy a system for a game that wasn’t, and still isn’t, dated for release.

There’s not much else I can add to that. Start saving your money if you’re that interested in a 360. I’m sure you’ll have time. 😉

To get high sales a console needs exclusives and FFXIII was a HUGE exclusive for PS3. This will no doubt affect sales and in turn give the PS3 less chance of getting other high profile exclusives. (source)

This complaint might sound logical, but it suffers from the same lack of perception as the delay complaint. You can’t know for sure how the loss of FFXIII as an exclusive will affect the PS3, even after the game has been released. Unless the producers of every major exclusive that isn’t released on PS3 come out and say that they based their decision entirely upon the loss of the FFXIII exclusive, any idea you have that Sony is suffering from the loss is up to your perception.

Some have likened this situation to the Sega Dreamcast’s loss of exclusives to the Playstation 2, which played a part in the Dreamcast’s eventual failure. Sony is still raking in loads of cash from the Playstation 2 alone. They even devoted a significant portion of their E3 presentation to the system depsite being a product of the last generation. The point is that Sony is far too wealthy to be affected by the loss of a major exclusive in the same way that Sega was. We will undoubtedly see the Playstation 4 some day despite FFXIII also being released on the XBox 360.

Another comparison people have made is to Final Fantasy‘s first leap between major companies: Final Fantasy VII being released on the Playstation rather than the Nintendo 64. This situation is so entirely different that I’m suprised people are even bringing it up. The biggest difference is that Nintendo didn’t only lose the exclusive but the entire Final Fantasy series until Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube. That’s a nine year absense. The comparison of the N64 to the PS3 is totally irrelevant as PS3 owners will still be able to play FFXIII.

The [RPG] genre, as history has shown, is dictated by the location of Final Fantasy. (source)

This is another logical sounding complaint against Final Fantasy XIII getting a release on the XBox 360, but it makes the same assumptions as some of the complaints above. RPGs have been more plentiful on the same platforms that Final Fantasy was designed for, but if we take the above complaint at its word, that would mean that RPGs would still be plentiful on the Playstation 3 as it will still receive FFXIII.

This point is also reminescent of the complaint concerning buying a PS3 entirely for FFXIII. If your decision to buy a PS3 was based on the location of most RPGs, you’ve succeeded. It’s true that the 360 is receiving its own share of RPGs, but few of them are exclusives.

Really, it all boils down to one thing: Playstation 3 owners will still be able to play Final Fantasy XIII despite it getting a release on the XBox 360.

Instead of complaining about nothing, you should be happy that the series you love is expanding its fanbase. I personally have no love for the main series post Final Fantasy IX (I am currently giving XII a try), but I can really appreciate what Square-Enix is doing with this move. Hopefully, I’ll have a 360 of my own by the time the game is released here because I was pretty intrigued by a quote I read along the lines of the game’s battle system trying to visually replicate the fight scenes of Advent Children.

I’m confident Square-Enix has what it takes to make the game look good, but we’ll have to wait and see how it handles. Who knows, it might turn into another Metal Gear Solid 4. 😛

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3 Responses to “Placebo Headwound”

  1. drewmcgee July 19, 2008 at 10:57 PM #

    I would first like to commend you on the coverage of this topic. When I heard the news, I had a knee-jerk reaction of anger that this was happening (obviously, I’m a PS3 fanboy) and am still brooding over it a bit.
    All of your answers to the complaints were fairly sound except for this one, IMO:
    “To get high sales a console needs exclusives and FFXIII was a HUGE exclusive for PS3. This will no doubt affect sales and in turn give the PS3 less chance of getting other high profile exclusives.”
    Your answer to this was that Sony already has plenty of money, that the PS2 is still making them money and that we will, no doubt, see a PS4. I can’t help but request you rethink this. Companies don’t live and die by their current cashflow – not companies of this size. It’s the future prospects that keep them rolling. I agree with you that we’ll see a Playstation 4, just as Sega saw a another two consoles after the Genesis. The parallel here is that Sega was not hurting at all for cash in the 16-bit days, but after the Saturn failed, where was all the revenue? The Dreamcast was an amazing machine but Sega had already lost too much ground and too much money to have a fighting chance.
    Exclusives bring in more money for more R&D and thus, maintaining a competitive, if not dominating, level of end-user satisfaction.
    At the end of the day, PS3 users like myself have to admit that, by and large, we want to be able to say, “We’ve got FFXIII and you don’t!” but don’t turn a blind eye to the possibilities of Sony slipping under Microsoft’s veteraned tank treads.

  2. chasmang July 20, 2008 at 12:15 AM #

    You’re right, but as I mentioned, there will be no way for the fans to observe the actual effect of this outside of their own assumptions.

    With the Dreamcast, we saw the effect in the form of the system being abandoned. My point about Sony having lots of money was in reference to Sega who could not support themselves. Sony CAN and will remain afloat, so as long as they’re here, we’ll only be able to guess as to how FFXIII getting a release on the XBox 360 will affect it.

    I really don’t see the loss of a Final Fantasy exclusive (not a loss of the game itself) as being powerful enough to cause a chain reaction that will eventually sink a huge company like Sony down the road.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [E3] Project Natal impressions « BOLDSTATE - June 1, 2009

    […] Last year, Microsoft’s big E3 announcement was Final Fantasy XIII coming to the Xbox 360. Some Sony fans complained about Microsoft moving in on their system’s coveted franchise, but this year, Microsoft is […]

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