Square Enix has been displaying a worrying approach to their games recently, with the most recent example being the sudden bait-and-switch of their sales plan for Hitman. Their previously already confusing game got even more difficult to understand after it became episodic last week, with Square Enix essentially intent on selling pieces of a game that isn’t complete. As it turns out, this has been a strategy of theirs for years now.
So says Jim Sterling, who recently revisited some sources within Square Enix after hearing about this move over two years ago already. Back then Sterling released a video stating that Square Enix (along with other publishers) had lost faith in the console market entirely, and saw microtransactions and free-to-play titles as the future of the industry. The success of titles like Warframe and World of Tanks sealed this in, and the publisher started making plans to adapt to the new market.
In the process, Square cancelled multiple projects that we’ll never hear about and withdrew all confidence in new IP, instead choosing to alter the way all their existing IP was sold. Just Cause 3 was nearly a casualty of this, with the title originally designed to be an online-only multiplayer shooter. Avalanche reportedly fought hard for their game, and ended up delivering the rather fun yet online-crippled title late last year.
Hitman too was designed from the start as an online-only experience, and for the first two years of the new console cycle Square was intent on doing this to most of their games. It explains things like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s peculiar pre-order scheme (a game which is apparently being broken up too), as well as the Final Fantasy VII Remake putting all its chips into episodic content. This was Square’s vision of the future, and it came crashing down as soon as the PS4 and Xbox One launched.
Because these console have both done exceedingly well, and the market is making it clear that $60 AAA titles are still very much the bread and butter of the industry. For games like Hitman and Just Cause it was simply too late, and so both have become casualties of a plan Square hatched out of desperation. It seems that they, and many other publishers, have learnt from it – which means fewer HD remasters as safe bets and more faith into investments for new IP and better sequels.
But it’s scary that these first two years of the new generation have been burdened because of a fear from publisher heads, which could still see the success of their episodic and DL- ridden content as reason to continue down this path. As always, your vote lies within your wallet. Let’s just hope this never happens again.
Last Updated: January 19, 2016