bill-swift - August 7, 2012
Square Enix is in an interesting place right now. Once one of the most popular RPG developers of all time, Square Enix has been gradually losing momentum in the RPG space, while focusing on titles like Tomb Raider, Hitman and Sleeping Dogs. New, experimental directions are starting to cause Square Enix to lose some credibility among longtime Japanese role-playing game fans in North America. It hurts to say this, as I'm a huge fan of the company, ever since back in the day when they were simply Squaresoft.
Years of success aside, you really have to wonder who's behind some of the bizarre ideas that come out of Square Enix. Their Final Fantasy series has seemingly taken the biggest hit, with their last real successful installment being Final Fantasy X in 2001.
Another one of Square Enix's biggest franchises has been taking some hits from fans as of late, with the announcement of Dragon Quest X, which will take a different route from the rest of the series as an MMO title. The 2011 announcement even caused the company's stock prices to fall. Seems a bit rash but the gaming community is a tad frightened of change, for what seems like good reason.
Recent news that the new Dragon Quest X will be supported with a decade full of DLC in the form of updates every ten weeks, with smaller updates periodically in between is definitely a nice touch but it's the idea of having to pay the monthly fees associated with an MMO that has gamers in an uproar. However, Square Enix has included the ability to play for free for a few hours every day during a predetermined 'kid's time' for players who would prefer not to shell out cash every month for something they'll play here and there, which brings up another bit of news...
Kotaku has just reported that players who do not log in for more than three consecutive months will have their characters deleted permanently (most likely to clear space for server performance). While it makes perfect sense, I have to admit, I really like the feeling of leaving a game like DC Universe Online for a while and return to see your beloved character loyally awaiting your inevitable return.
What do you think? Is Square Enix doing something smart with this Dragon Quest X MMO or is this yet another step towards their impending collapse?