While news of gaming promise helps to shape the forefront at GDC, it seems as if EA might have kickstarted a recent trend of CEO demise.
Yoichi Wada Steps down as CEO of SquareEnix… …and another one bites the dust…
Not that this is a huge surprise mind you, considering the kind of mismanagement the company has been through for the past several years. From Square’s glorified tech demos, to their stale ideas, and the financial disrespect of gamers in between, this shouldn’t act as a moment of silence. CEO’s are the last people we should feel sorry for, often seeking to conquer with acts of desperate finance, and being a primary source of lost jobs, and a degradation of quality.
I know I know, you could point the finger at Nintendo in retread territory and rehases, but I always like to focus on the worst case scenarios. Besides, Nintendo has put out at least a dozen top notch games in as many years, something I can’t say SquareEnix can really brag about. This is just attacking them from a development stand point. If we look at them as a publisher, they’ve helped to create excellent experiences with Hitman, Sleeping Dogs, and most recently Tomb Raider. I say that from a gaming standpoint, and not a delusionally motivated financial stand point, where things start to go slightly awry.
So when things started getting bad, they got worse, and then rock bottom. Over a period of years, SquareEnix destroyed a reliable formula, by trying to molest it for monetary reasons. I enjoyed FFXI as an MMO (which is rare), but it should have never taken the place of a main number installment. The fact that FF is about telling stories, and intimate character development with endings fit of grandeur should have been contradictory enough for MMO territory. How no one saw that this doesn’t quite conform to the same formula in MMO’s is beyond me. Then we discuss the inevitable of end game content, which in MMO land, includes waiting around in a field for three hours to kill the same monster fifty times in a row.
If Square had learned their lesson, that would have been one thing. FF11 did act as a cool experiment, a financial success, and helped to create a dedicated fan base with a cult classic MMO. The fact remains it shouldn’t have been a featured number in the first place, and definitely should not have been given a second chance. My perception, and not reality of course… As if in some doomed time loop, and a pretty hefty amount of negative feedback, Square went through and did FFXIV in the same style of MMO! I remember reading there were audible sighs heard at the press reveal of FFXIV, because journalists were already exhausted with it.
Part of the big problem here is, after Hironobu Sakaguchi was rejected from the company(original creator and main creative mind for FF1-10), SquareEnix just got cross eyed and painless, never once stopping to think about why they couldn’t see straight. What’s even worse, is that before the merger with Enix, one of the primary reasons mentioned in letting Sakaguichi go, was because of the colossal financial failure that was Spirits Within. The worse part doesn’t directly refer to Spirits Within itself as a travesty, but that despite acknowledging a flawed formula and basically outing Sakaguchi for the failing, SquareEnix then relentlessly ripped off the very same style that greatly hurt Square in the first place.
I keep referencing FFX in the article, because it’s the last time I enjoyed the visage that was Square, which happened before the merger with Enix, giving clear indication of who in fact, shit the bed. Not to mention X still maintained a lot of the same design class Sakaguichi was known for, and one that should have saved him from the one misstep that was Spirits Within. What did Mr.Sakaguichi do afterwards?
You might be wondering if this write up is just a slap dash retrospective/reminder of Final Fantasy Failures, or if it’s just one more eulogy for the passing of an RPG legend. Wherever the truth fully lies, Yoichi Wada stepping down is a good thing. He’s been there from moment one of the Enix merger with Square, and has had a major hand in the direction the company has gone in every year since things become unpallatable. Which, as I’ve noted here, has been downright poisonous.
So yes, Wada stepping down doesn’t redeem the company, nor will it immediately change it for the better. That doesn’t change the fact that loss isn’t always a bad thing, with failure often acting as a great catalyst for opportunity. I know the next CEO will be misguided, and only act in favor of the bottom line. The one silver lining to this, is the potential for it getting worse is about non-existent,which is in the same field of quality Square Enix’s reputation currently resides in.
Perhaps, the next boss will observe at least some of the mistakes of his predecessor, and correct them, giving us rejuvenation in a once considered worth while franchise. If nothing else, I hope the next head honcho at least observes one basic honest truth. You don’t have to respect gamers to make money, but you do have to put effort into making something gamers do respect. The cash cows are there for milking, you just have to know what to serve the thirsty masses. With one last nod to my obsession involving leveling up and Michael Keaton, I hearken back to one pivotal truth Mr.Keaton inspired as The Batman. When everything was spiraling out of control, and none of what The Joker was trying seemed to be working, he simply stated the obvious.
The Joker was forced into a single realization… “This Town needs an Enema!”
As has been evidenced with Square Enix, if we wait long enough, the delusional powers that be will act as their own proctologists.