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Great Debate: Is Square Enix right to stick by the Final Fantasy XIII series?

Submitted by on Monday, 10 September 20124 Comments

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be the next entry into the famous Final Fantasy series.

This won’t please everyone because the FFXIII branch of games has split the fan base with many keen to see Square Enix move on.

In this debate, PS3 Attitude writers Stefhutch20 and Seanoc argue the case for and against another game in the XIII series. There’s also an open poll below so everyone can have their say.

Yes! It would be a slap in the face if they didn’t

Stefhutch20 – Staff Writer

Since its original Japanese release back in December 2009, Final Fantasy XIII has sold 6.76m copies worldwide. Since December 2011, Final Fantasy XIII-2 has sold 2.62m copies worldwide. To be honest, with such impressive sales figures like these, why are we even bothering to debate whether Square Enix is right to stick by the FFXIII series?

We all know that both FFXIII and XIII-2 have been victims of internet backlashes after their respective releases. If you believe what you read online, you can fool yourself into thinking that these titles are an insult to gamers everywhere and subsequently don’t deserve to be played by anyone; but if that’s the case, who the hell keeps buying them?

The truth is that gamers who dislike the FFXIII series are actually in the minority, albeit a very vocal minority, which gives a false impression of the whole. We saw the same thing happen earlier this year with Mass Effect 3; a small number of outspoken individuals decided they weren’t happy with the ending, and it suddenly became the ‘cool’ thing to rant about on the internet.

When it comes down to it though, it doesn’t matter if disillusioned Final Fantasy fans have been put off by the FFXIII series, because Square Enix has found a new contingent of loyal followers (myself included) to replace them. I have absolutely no issues with saying that FFXIII and XIII-2 are two of my favourite games of all time, and there is very little I would change about either of them.

And for me, that’s the reason why Square Enix is right to stick by the FFXIII series; for every gamer who wants the company to abandon it, there are another five who have become utterly invested in the story and want to discover how it ends. Apart from anything else, FFXIII-2 ended on a massive cliff hanger, so leaving the series there would be a real slap in the face!

No! They should have cut their losses and reclaimed FF’s proud history of reinvention

Seanoc – Features Editor

Square Enix took a different approach when they announced Lightning Returns. We didn’t get a sparkling trailer as usual. Instead they gave us a few wordy presentations, offering some details on the concept, art style and game design. The game is early in development so they probably didn’t have anything to show. However, I think there’s also an acceptance that they have to try harder to excite us this time

Why? Well, Final Fantasy XIII was an unmitigated disaster. It sold well but no one quite realized what they were getting. Aside from its infamous linearity, it was a soulless affair, devoid of charm, wonder and even gameplay – never a good sign. The game fractured the fan base, leaving many long-term fans disillusioned.

The studio made a valiant attempt to make amends with Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game design was more flexible, it had more humour and it reintroduced side quests. It was too late, though. The damage was already done because people instantly associated it with FFXIII. It looked the same, had much of the same cast and it appeared to play the same. Inevitably, the reviews were average and the sales numbers dropped.

That’s not good enough for a series as celebrated as Final Fantasy, yet here we are again with Square Enix determined to plough on with the FFXIII series. I appreciate the team’s desire to finish what they started but all the evidence shows it’s not working. Unless they take a radical new approach (so far that looks unlikely) then frustrated fans will continue to stay away. The brand is tarnished.

It didn’t have to be this way – a clean break would have allowed everyone to move on. The most frustrating thing about all of this is that ripping it up and starting again is the Final Fantasy way. Direct sequels are still a rare thing in the series; Final Fantasy has always reinvented itself with every new game, introducing new characters, worlds, combat systems, themes and art styles.

Between 1997 and 2000, we played as freedom fighters in the steam punk world of Final Fantasy VII, learnt our trade as a military cadet in the elegant Final Fantasy VIII and joined a band of bandits in the colourful European medieval fantasy world of Final Fantasy IX. This is just a small snapshot. Final Fantasy has been reinventing itself throughout its illustrious 25-year history. It’s time Square Enix revived that spirit.