And the knowledge that it’s only going to continue.
One incredibly obtuse and probably meaningless argument I find myself in a lot is how to calculate life of service when it comes to MMOs and other online-only games. The practical and obvious answer is to go from when servers are on to when they are off. My approach is more logical, at least in my opinion. I take from when the game fully launches to when the sunset is announced, not when the servers actually shut off.
Why? Simply because it makes the most sense to me. The 1.0 launch is when the developer “releases” the game, because they love to complain about criticism during early access or beta as unfair because the game isn’t “done” yet. And when a developer announces that a game is shutting down, at that point it’s basically dead. Any further development is stuff that was done anyway, basic maintenance, and players move on to better pastures. That’s the point the game dies.
2022 has been full of “glad I didn’t spend any time/money on that piece of crap” moments for me, and no publisher has had that phrase attributed to them more than Square Enix. Square Enix spent much of 2021 and 2022 modeling itself off of Gamigo, launching titles that had no business being live services that their teams were unable to support, their marketing too inept to actually advertise, their management too stupid to control, and that were doomed to failure from the start.
The least surprising of which was Babylon’s Fall, a game as ugly on the outside as it was on the inside. It’s very obvious that Babylon’s Fall was developed by B team talent on a D team budget, which didn’t help the fact that it sold at $60 with all the fixings. Had Babylon’s Fall been a free to play game or budget priced with the same monetization of selling battle passes and cosmetics, it probably would have still failed. But I’m willing to bet we’d get further than the six month mark before Square Enix announced it would all be collapsing.
Babylon’s Fall was also the game of this year that forced me to remind the public that some of y’all are dumb as hell. Not my readers, obviously, you’re all smart and lovely and you’ve got a nice butt. I’m talking about the people who despite the multiple beta tests that revealed the game to be a dull, ugly mess still bought it day one. And I know who you are, guy who played both beta tests and hated it and still bought the most expensive version. I seen your Reddit posts. I don’t advocate pre-ordering games period, but in the world of obvious red flags, Babylon’s Fall was the reddest and most obvious flag of them all.
Then I suppose we can talk about Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier, a game I honestly had more hope for. Launched in November 2021 and announced for sunset in October 2022, The First Soldier could have been great if the developers weren’t so damn stupid. The most obvious blunder in my opinion is not launching the game on consoles/PC and making it mobile exclusive. The mobile BR market has been cornered with little room to make your camp, all the Indian gamers are playing PUBG Mobile.
And then there’s Chocobo Racing, a game that similar to Babylon’s Fall launched at a premium price and demanded mobile-level monetization with battle passes and cosmetics. And just like Babylon’s Fall, Square Enix announced that the game would no longer receive support less than a year out of launch. I suppose that Chocobo Racing is in the best spot (for now) as unlike the other two titles the game isn’t completely shutting down. It just won’t be getting any more updates. And also it’s going to be possible to unlock things in-game since the shops are shutting down.
The brazen incompetence shown by Square Enix and its studios this past year with launching and maintaining live service games is truly a sight to behold. Oh and I should point out that Bravely Default: Brilliant Lights, another mobile spinoff that had no business being a predatory mobile spinoff, is shutting down soon. That one launched in January 2022, meaning it didn’t even last a year like pretty much all of Square Enix’s other failed live service attempts.
And yet we get to sit around and watch people hype themselves up over the next slate of Square Enix live service games knowing that most of them are probably doomed to the same fate. And for the record I don’t think Square Enix is making particular bank off of these games and then running off like Dick Dastardly. It’s like a pump and dump with no pump and all dump. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this endeavor has lost them tens of millions of dollars.
But there’s some deep-seated incompetence at the company, probably the same one that’s been telling them to double down on talking about NFTs, that needs to be excised for their own benefit. And ours, the consumer.
Otherwise I have no opinion on the matter.