Planned Final Fantasy XV Updates Show It’s Taking Its Biggest Fans For Granted
Last week, Square Enix – the company behind the long-running Final Fantasy series – announced that its latest entry, Final Fantasy XV, has sold extremely well. Considering the troubled 10-year development on the PS3, PS4, and Xbox 360 along with the often-spread PC and Nintendo Switch ports, it was better than many expected.
Of course, for big releases these days, the first week on sale is no longer enough to justify the investment – Square Enix’s current concern now is how to sustain revenue in the future, particularly if one considers that the last single-player mainline entry, Final Fantasy XIII, saw sales drop 80% a week after its March 2010 release.
This time around, there’s a Season Pass that promises a wealth of content well into next year, which could possibly stall a sharp drop in sales. But that’s not all – Game Director Hajime Tabata has revealed the roadmap for future Final Fantasy XV updates. These included the gameplay fix in Chapter 13 – a segment we called in our review “particularly annoying”. More importantly, the story will also be changed by these updates.
“Updated the production of the second half of the game, further improving the story experience. For example, we plan to add event scenes explaining where “What happened to Ravus?” In addition to event scenes, voice responses and localization work in all languages will take place, so we will be firmly working on this as a medium-term goal. Details of the plan will be announced once it is will be decided,” Tabata said on Japanese gaming site Gamer.ne, as translated on gaming forum NeoGAF.
In our review, we said Final Fantasy XV’s story was a mess. The plan above plans to rectify that, for free. At first glance, this all seems like a welcome addition to a game that’s already garnered rave reviews.
So how is this a problem? Well, for starters, Square Enix outright lied about the state of the game. Earlier in the year Tabata said the game was delayed to make sure it was in such a state wouldn’t need a day one patch to play it. Of course, that was not the case. His current statements completely contradict this. Today, you won’t get the whole history of the game on disc thanks to this.
That’s a big deal – story is an integral part of role-playing games. Think what would happen if EA decided to ship FIFA without a single licensed team? Or if Valve decides that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive should have rocks instead of guns. It wouldn’t be pretty. For a game that’s an offline single-player affair, you’d think its narrative, of all things, would be tied together from the get-go. It stinks of poor development practices and lack of foresight.
Of course, many other games have patches – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, was regularly updated long after release. But these were undertaken to improve quality of life features, such as menus, or to remove bugs – nothing fundamental to the experience and enjoyment of the game was added after release. It’s a real problem, and it gets worse, considering that fans were promised that you wouldn’t need an online connection to enjoy the game to the fullest. 10 years later, how Was something so essential not properly planned?
Apparently, Tabata said it was done because of the game’s success. As usual, it’s a bit more complex than that. On day one, Metacritic and OpenCritic rated the game with a glowing 86. Fast forward to now and you’ve got the game sitting at a less flattering 83. It’s the same as Final Fantasy XIII, derided by some fans as the worst game in the series. And that number may well drop as more sites play the game.
Square Enix might promise a steady stream of content via a Season Pass, but promising patches to alleviate core complaints about story and level design aren’t really something you can pin on the “success” of the game.
And that’s where Final Fantasy XV fails spectacularly, by not being able to achieve what should and shouldn’t be patched after release. Even more so if you consider that it was promised as a game where you didn’t need an online connection to get the most out of it.
Whatever the motivations, it’s not a good sign. It’s depressing to see one of gaming’s biggest franchises reduced to cheap parlor tricks in order to keep its fans interested. The flip-flop on the need for online connectivity and changes to its story, long after its biggest fans have finished the game, isn’t a good sign – $60 doesn’t get you a positioned game and marketed as an offline single-player game. live. This gives you a game that clearly needed more development time to fulfill its vision, even after 10 years.