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Final Fantasy XV’s Absence From E3 2014 is Not a Good Thing
That’s right. It was announced yesterday that, along with Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV will not be making an appearance at this year’s E3. Fans of the franchise and JRPG enthusiasts alike have voiced varying opinions, much of it expressing sentiments of indifference. I have even read arguments stating that it’s a good move for Square Enix at this point.
I wholeheartedly disagree. When you take into account that we’ve been waiting eight years now for this game, a few more months to receive a new trailer or (gasp) a playable demo doesn’t seem that bad (producer Shinji Hashimoto promised they are working hard to reveal something later this year). That doesn’t make it acceptable for Square Enix to deprive us of a showcase at E3, the industry’s biggest event of the entire year.
That, to me, is the point. E3 serves to highlight what consumers want, and while often utilized as a platform to unveil brand new hardware or as-yet-unseen games, it is also used to provide new information about high-profile titles. If Final Fantasy XV can’t be categorized as “high profile,” I don’t know what can. To be clear, I’m not saying Square Enix doesn’t think XV is high profile—I stand with those who opine pretty much the entire franchise hinges on the success of this game—but to refrain from showing it at E3 seems a little extreme.
Many assert it’s okay for Square Enix to keep XV out of its lineup if it means we’ll get a better showing later, o maybe they just don’t have enough to show us yet (the “I’d rather see something polished” argument). I would agree…if it hadn’t been eight freaking years. To me, the fact that we have waited so long means we should see something at E3. Thus far, them delaying showcasing the game for several months hasn’t paid off. While excitement builds, they inevitably continue to disappoint with a short trailer accompanied by minute bits of information. And as for the game not being polished enough to give us something new, I again point to the ridiculous development cycle this game has endured. If things aren’t polished enough yet, I question whether a couple more months will make any difference.
The biggest issue here is faith. Though I’ve come across many who still believe in Square Enix and stand by widely-regarded missteps like the XIII trilogy or some of the Kingdom Hearts spinoffs, the company indubitably has lost its stride. Many longtime Final Fantasy fans are shrugging their shoulders at XV by this point. That’s a big problem to have with your passionate fanbase, perhaps even worse than outrage over the game’s absence. It shows a lack of faith in consumers that Square Enix can deliver after so long. I’ve heard many fans say they aren’t even excited for this game anymore. That is the most devastating thing a fan of your products can say.
Some consumers are expressing as much disappointment that Kingdom Hearts III will not be shown, but is that really as bad? Kingdom Hearts III was announced fairly recently, so it’s not terribly surprising that Square Enix has nothing to show. In this instance, I can accept that nothing is polished enough to showcase, and it’s forgivable that they don’t have enough to give us to justify showcasing it. XV, on the other hand, loses more and more steam each time Square Enix passes up an opportunity to highlight it. By passing it up, they’re missing out on some desperately-needed hype. Even if they have a playable demo that doesn’t utilize the final system, giving fans a taste could do a tremendous amount for the title. It would also give Square a chance to listen to feedback and tweak mechanics that didn’t work for the demo.
Most disappointing, however, is that no appearance means, yet again, no release date announcement. By this point, giving the game a solid release date would be the most promising thing Square Enix could do, even if the game doesn’t come out for another two years (that’s where I’m putting my money). Square Enix may have learned their lesson not to rush production after Final Fantasy XIII, but after eight years they should be far enough along in development to set a release date without having to rush.
All in all, this entire game has been plagued with mistakes and faltering. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe leaving the game out of E3 is just another to add to that very long list. Hopefully it’ll pay off at another game show later this year, but at this point I’m not holding my breath.