Or: The Post That Makes Everyone Hate Me
There are a few things that the gaming community can usually band together to agree on with their hatred. Terrible DLC, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and the way that SquareEnix and Capcom treat their franchises. I'm only going to talk about those last two today. Now, I'm by no means here to defend the companies as a whole, or even to say that the decisions I'm speaking for are necessarily good. Both have made plenty of stupid decisions, as anyone has, and even I can't justify a lot of them. I just felt that SOMEONE needs to take on the role of devil's advocate every now and then, and by god I'll take one for the team if no one else will.
Square is an entity that has made many people's favorite games at one point or another. Square alone can be the reason that people have a hard time agreeing on the elusive (read: nonexistant) "golden age of JRPGs". Some swear by Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI (like myself!), some stand beside FF VII and FF Tactics, others may fight alongside FF X or Kingdom Hearts.
These days however it seems Square can accomplish nothing but to piss people off. There are plenty of reasonable examples of this, such as their declaration of Tomb Raider being a flop and FF All The Bravest, but one of the biggest sources of hatred is the direction they take with their main franchise; Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy is one of, if not THE, biggest JRPG series in the world. It's a series with so many fans and so many unique takes on the JPRG formula that there is no widely accepted "best" Final Fantasy.
Therein lies Final Fantasy's biggest strength, and the reason that they can now be working on its fifteenth iteration: it constantly tries to evolve and try new things. Every single Final Fantasy entry tries something new and is very obviously different from its predecessor, even among the direct sequels! X-2, for all the hate it gets, has a sizable fan base and manages to vary drastically from its origins. Likewise each entry in the XIII saga makes very notable changes from the others in an attempt to constantly experiment with new mechanics.
There have always been people who will bitch about Final Fantasy's push for something new. People complain about the draw system in VIII, the linearity in X, the combat of XII, and a combination of things about XIII. Here's the thing though, those aren't all the same people. The fact that there is a huge number of people who think that VIII was the best FF and that those are not the same people who think that XII was the best shows that clearly every iteration is very personal and up to you individually to either be on board with or not.
XIII may have had a lot of systems you may not like, but you can't sit there and tell me that it didn't really try to experiment with some pretty radical changes. The battle system is like nothing else and it really twists a lot of what you'd expect into something new. Telling people that the game plays itself is a pretty extreme exaggeration at best.
You can hate Lightning with all of your heart and soul, but at the end of the day the fact that she starred in three games in a row proves that there is a sizable number of people out there who do like her. People like to assume that it's just XIII's creator who obviously has a hard on for her, but one guy doesn't get to convince an entire company that a character is worth more canon games than almost any other Final Fantasy character ever, barring FFVII characters.
Recently Square said that the future of the console market may hinge on the success of Final Fantasy XV. A lot of people took that as either being conceited or an obvious message that they should just give up and remake Final Fantasy VII. Here's the thing though, we're talking about a Japanese company making one of Japan's biggest franchises trying to release that huge franchise onto a new piece of hardware that a very small number of people own in Japan. You think Final Fantasy is big here? Imagine in its company of origin! XIII sold over a million copies in Japan on the very first day. Lightning Returns sold more copies in Japan during its first week of sales than Super Mario 3D World!
If SquareEnix can't sell PS4s with their biggest franchise then how likely do you think they'll be to continue making games for the new generation? It's the same situation with their current announcement to bring Type-0 to PS4 rather than PSP/Vita, another decision that brought a lot of hate and prompted such mind blowing reactions as 'I refuse to buy this game unless it also comes to my Vita'. A game that barely made it out of Japan at all! By putting Type-0 HD on the new hardware they can further incentivize people to pick up that new hardware either now or when FFXV comes out.
"But XV itself is a system seller!" you may be shouting. Yes, but you can't rely on people to pay that much money to play a single game. If you tell someone who likes Halo "Hey, the Xbone is getting Halo 5!" they may go "Oh snap, I may need to upgrade to an Xbone!" But if you tell them "The Xbone is getting Halo 5 AND Destiny; the new game from the company that originally made Halo!" They now have a lot more of a reason to move to that new hardware.
Capcom is another publisher that gets a lot of hatred, and honestly a lot of it really is reasonable. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that their numerable releases of Street Fighter IV or their on disc DLC characters are okay, because they're absolutely not. What I am going to talk about is a franchise that you and I both love and you seem to think that Capcom hates: Mega Man!
Like most of you, I love me some Mega Man. The X games are what its all about for me, but I can respect the original games as well. People's love for Mega Man seems to have made them convinced that the lack of official Mega Man games in recent years means that Capcom OBVIOUSLY hates their franchise, their fans, and money in general. Let's look at this from a reasonable perspective though.
Do you know how many official Mega Man games there are? A LOT. If you count any official game branded as part of the Mega Man franchise there are over 30 games. 10 of which are part of the original Mega Man formula, and 8 of which are part of the X series, which is an evolution of that original formula. No one at Capcom hates Mega Man and no one is there sitting in a board room tapping their fingers going "Yessssss YESSSSS, let the hate flow through you!" as their bank account dries up.
There are no lack of Mega Man games, not even in recent times. Mega Man 10 came out in 2010 and, while there have been no official releases since then, Capcom has done nothing to deter people from expanding on the blue bomber's catalogue on their own. Even other companies that have a spot for Mega Man have been allowed to make use of him, just look at Project X Zone or Super Smash Bros.
You know what makes a great game? When someone has a genuinely interesting idea and the heart to make that idea a reality. Let me put this another way; do you really want Capcom to put together a Mega Man game solely as a cash-in just because people are asking for one? That's how you get garbage cash-ins. Someone had the idea and the heart to put together Street Fighter X Mega Man and not only did Capcom do nothing to stop it, they helped bring it attention! And that's hardly the only worth while Mega Man fan game out there.
Recently Mighty No. 9 has been getting a lot of press, and for good reason! I would argue that the existence of MN9 is proof of my argument. MN9 exists because someone (the man who brought us so many great Mega Man games nonetheless!) had a genuinely interesting idea for a Mega Man style of game and had the heart to make it a reality. If Keiji Inafune just wanted to continue the Mega Man formula and make some money off of clamoring fans he could have made Mighty No. 9 ages ago as a much simpler and less unique experience. He still would have made a ton of money, but now you; the fans, get to spend that same money on something that was made because someone genuinely wanted to make it, and not because a board room assigned it to them for some easy money.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this piece is not necessarily intended to defend these companies per se. I'd love to see more Mega Man and I'd love to see Square make more varied games the way they used to. This piece has just been to offer a differing opinion that I rarely, if ever, see in the places where these companies are talked about. You may now feel free to spew all of the pent up frustrations that I've stirred up over the course of this piece in the comments below. Thanks for reading!