The Emancipation of Square Enix, and wha ...

The Emancipation of Square Enix, and what it means for the future of JRPGs.

May 15, 2024

Other than being a United States presidential election year, 2024 has thus far been the year in which gamers decided they have had enough of bloated, uninspired, thoughtlessly churned-out AAA software titles where they care more about DEI and DRM than the only three letter word/phrase that should count: FUN. Whether it’s the cultural war where gamers are sick and tired of seeing “ugly women” in their video games, exhausted about bloated “Collectors Edition” packages, or just straight up tired of the privacy invasions and incessant gaslighting by overly smug Discord Community Managers for the titles they play, gamers everywhere have resoundingly said “I’ve had enough.”  My only question is “what took you so long?”

Possibly one of the more grievous offenses in gaming is what console-exclusivity clauses have done to companies like the once-mighty Square Enix, which represents not one, but two iconic companies best known for putting out the most popular JRPGs known to man, with Final Fantasy (Square) and Dragon Quest (Enix) respectively. Unfortunately, in this case the sum of the parts was greater than the whole. In merging, it seems like both Square and Enix have lost their identity and while that has been that way for some time, the decision to swear fealty to Sony Computer Entertainment has been one that has further taken its toll with Square Enix being reduced to essentially an indentured vassal state that may as well had been under Sony’s ownership completely.  The struggling JRPG manufacturer (that stopped making RPGs to make soy-slop disguised as RPGs by the way), made waves this week when, after the report several weeks ago that the company had lost $140 million dollars, the company revealed a new business model that said Square Enix would be leaving the Playstation Plantation, much to the dismay of several distraught Sony fanboys who never really bought Square Enix titles to begin with.

While JRPG aficionados such as myself rejoiced at the news the company would be removing its collective head from the anus of a company that has become to gaming what Disney has to cinemas (a bloated, mismanaged World Economic Forum-compliant disaster coasting on a brand that hasn’t meant “quality” in decades), many black-pilled ball-busters replied with “who cares? They don’t make good games anymore anyway!” My rebuttal to that would be that when you are beholden to Sony Computer Entertainment to the degree which Square Enix had given up autonomy to, you’re at the mercy of Sony, which leads to churning out Final Fantasy VII over and over again - partly because the original back in 1997 was the most successful RPG Sony had ever seen, and partly because the ESG grifters that have converted Sony spend their spare time writing gay fanfiction about Cloud and Sephiroth.  How has that worked out for Square Enix? The answer: nothing short of disastrous.  While Final Fantasy VII: Remake enjoyed some success on Playstation 4 and PC, the second title in the series, Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, not only was exclusive to PS5 but left PC gamers and Playstation 4 gamers on “fuck you, sucker” island. That’s a lot of good will to piss away.

Of course it also didn’t help that a Sony-influenced Square Enix had an almost obsessive focus on the western gaming market, which meant getting deeper in bed with the aforementioned Disney company – no, not for the 4th installment of Kingdom Hearts (whose future is up in the air as of present time) but with an attempt to create a live service Marvel’s Avengers game, centered around Ms. Marvel, a character that Disney-controlled Marvel comics has desperately tried to make “a thing” repeatedly with no success.  Ms. Marvel has a lot in common with Communism in the regard that Ms. Marvel has failed every time it has been attempted. This round for Square Enix was no different.

But possibly the most egregious offense of them all (aside from then-CEO Yosuke Matsuda’s unhealthy obsession with getting Square Enix involved in the NFT market) was the development of Forspoken, formerly known as Project Athia, which was meant to showcase the power of the Playstation 5 by previous Final Fantasy XV studio, Luminous Productions.  While initial hardware tests on PS5 proved promising, Sony came waltzing in with a list of demands and an army of angry black lesbians and declared that Square Enix had to “put a black chick in it and make her lame and gay,’ which is how Square Enix became infected with the malignant tumors on gaming known as Sweet Baby Inc, and Black Girl Gamers, consultant (Marxist activist) organizations that “suggest” (demand) you capitulate to “Western sensibilities” (gay shit – or else). Matsuda, not wanting to upset his handlers, or the ugly black lesbians who claimed they knew “what Americans want in their games,” proceeded to make a number of mistakes and a number of hires at the American and European offices of Square Enix to ensure the company essentially lost it’s identity in the shuffle of lackluster developers also espousing the message to gamers who had long since tuned out of this woke diarrhea to play their backlogs of titles dating back over 30 years.  The game ended up not only being completely underwhelming, but ended up in the dumpsters behind video game stores who could not move the overstock everywhere.  After a few more millions of dollars were lost, the board at Square Enix gave Matsuda the NFT he didn’t want by telling him “No Fucking Thanks” and replacing him with the younger, hungrier, and sharper Takashi Kiryu, who has been tasked with the mess of cleaning this whole thing up. Is it too late? Only time will tell. Here are a few of my suggestions if Square Enix wants to garner a little good will with gamers and get back to where they need to be:


The biggest change Square Enix needs to make is to stop living off Final Fantasy VII. After multiple remakes, movie-sequels, side-games, and even more remakes its time to realize that living in the past success of Final Fantasy VII has led to the creative stagnancy that got the company here in the first place. Final Fantasy VII is a symbol of the relationship between Square Enix and Sony – which is another reason after the final game in the “Remake” trilogy, Final Fantasy VII should never be seen or heard from ever again, except for the occasional Cloud & Sephiroth cameos in other titles. Final Fantasy VII was a great story for its time but continuing to beat us over the head with it is frankly just boring.


This may come as a shock to Square, but you have a conjoined twin named Enix with a massive library of titles. Other than Actraiser, virtually none of these titles have gotten any love and some of these titles, like Mystic Ark, were never released outside of Japan. You don’t need to make everything a bloated, big-budget AAA title.  Some playable older titles with quality-of-life improvements are sufficient. Why do I have to commit Nintendo’s greatest sin (emulation) to play most of the Dragon Quest titles? Why aren’t they simply ported over to PC?  While I don’t want to exploit a man’s death, I am a capitalist at the end of the day and with the untimely passing of Dragon Quest character designer, and animation icon Akira Toriyama, there was no better way to pay tribute than to say “remember all those games you either must play on a mediocre cellphone or substandard Nintendo DS emulator? We’re going to release those on Steam, but better-looking!” Money on the table, my friends.


Everyone’s eyes are on Stellar Blade right now, primarily on the posterior of the protagonist, Eve, even the eyes of one Yoko Taro, the genius behind the NieR series. In one of his earliest interviews after being promoted to the new president of the company Takashi Kiryu expressed joy seeing that franchises like Octopath Traveler and NieR had become so beloved.  Unfortunately for developer Shift-Up, Stellar Blade is Sony’s newest hostage, a position Square Enix knows all too well – there are even petitions to FREE STELLAR BLADE. Why not tell the audience “Stellar Blade? We have Stellar Blade at home,” and reintroduce everyone to the wonderful world of 2B?  Unlike Eve, 2B goes where 2B pleases, be it Xbox, PC, or Switch and while Nier Replicant and Automata are widely available on a number of platforms, this would be a great opportunity to bring 2B back for one last rodeo and stick it to the ex-husband Sony in the process.


One of the biggest wrongs that need to be righted by Square Enix both involve a little Final Fantasy spin-off franchise known as “Dissidia,” which is best known as a fighting game on PSP, essentially Square Enix’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Iconic heroes and villains from Final Fantasy take each other on.  Despite the game and it’s “Champion Edition” style sequel, Duodecim being well-received on PSP, the next generation got some sort of freak accident embarrassment of a fighting game that took away all the charm and style of those games for a soulless King of Fighters-style 3-on-3 wannabe that fell far from the ideal importing the very strange “pay for the game per character” lunacy of Microsoft’s Killer Instinct.  All storyline and RPG elements of Dissidia were completely removed, despite one of the absolute charms of the game being watching your favorite Final Fantasy characters connect with one another (Kefka’s hatred of everyone including other Final Fantasy villains was a riot, for example).

Porting the original engine from the original PSP Dissidia would have been superior than what we got – add a few updates for Final Fantasy XIII, XIV, XV, and XVI and profit.  Throw in a few guest characters like Jack Garland from “Stranger of Paradise,” and the previously mentioned 2B and let Dissidia essentially become a commercial for your other Final Fantasy titles not named “Final Fantasy VII.”  They do exist. You have a lot of them and it’s not very taxing to develop; you just need an HD sheen on those existing assets – for added giggles, put it out at half the price of a Tekken 8 or Street Fighter 6 and watch how quick people enjoy a nice budget hybrid RPG-fighter – bonus points if you throw that on something as portable as the Nintendo Switch.


Square Enix had an exceptionally long “gacha phase” over the past half-decade or so and it felt like every other week a brand-new mobile title was coming to iOS and Android to exploit suckers (oh excuse me, “fans”) of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and more. The problem wasn’t so much that Square Enix was releasing “easy money” gacha titles. The problem was Square Enix had built up entire passionate communities around those titles only to discontinue them entirely, such as a digital Final Fantasy card game, Dissidia: Opera Omnia, Dragon Quest Rivals, and more. Currently both Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and Dragon Quest Tact are gacha games whose servers are still active on mobile phones but given Square Enix’s losses, for how much longer?  The big problem with this is that Square Enix simply banishes these games into the ether, never to be seen again, meanwhile there’s an opportunity to make offline versions of those titles, without having to keep the servers open, simply for people to enjoy the stories attached to them – again, easy-to-port to steam, affordable, and a way to keep bringing in those dollars from passionate communities of players who really enjoyed those games. You don’t need to keep the servers running in perpetuity; just give gamers some way to experience these games after “end of service.” Additionally, it might be smart to investigate a method to give us an offline Final Fantasy XI offering as many people have not played that story, and many people do not want to pay $19.95 a month to subscribe to an antiquated MMORPG.

Anyway, these were my thoughts about the future of Square Enix. Will life after Sony be bright or will it be bleak? Only time will truly tell but my hope is that the twin juggernauts of the JRPG rise once more to give us greater experiences.

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