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Not really that much to report on this, I suppose. Final Fantasy XIV, released to Windows last year, is now available for beta on PlayStation 4. Unlike the betas for Windows, this beta is immediately open to everyone, and the client is on the PlayStation Store for immediate download.
The game is planned to exit beta and enter wide commercial release for PlayStation 4 on April 14 of this year.
Source: Final Fantasy XIV Official Marketing
In a recent interview with Eurogamer, series producer Yoshinori Kitase has expressed interest in returning the core Final Fantasy series to the Windows platform. Beyond the MMOs, XI and XIV, a new game in the series has not been published to the Windows desktop OS since Final Fantasy VIII. It's clear, though, that the company maintains some interest in the platform with releases from other series like Deus Ex and Tomb Raider, not to mention the recent re-releases of Final Fantasy VII and VIII to Windows last year.
While no games from the Final Fantasy XIII series were released for the platform, Kitase reminds Eurogamer that the original XIII development took place in a Windows environment, so the notion of a release was not restricted by the development itself but instead Squenix' own market analysis and concerns about DRM. Kitase stops well short of promising a release of Final Fantasy XV via Steam, but it's clear from his words that the interest is there and that a release could easily be in the cards if the numbers look to work in the company's favor.
Square Enix must have really wanted me to post some Tidbits this week. Some of the emails that went out to their mailing lists came to me five times! So, to oblige their largesse, most of our news will be coming straight outta the mouths of the company this week.
The next big Final Fantasy release is Lightning Returns, coming to the West in just about two weeks (or less!). With that, the demo became available this week for both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360; remember that a version of the game has not been announced for any new-gen platform as yet. The demo has a boss monster which, if defeated and shared to social media, will get the user a new costume, namely Siegfried.
My favorite Final Fantasy and Lightning Returns news of the week, though, is the proof that Square Enix can still put out an awesome-looking 16-bit experience. To get folks up to speed who may not have finished (or even experienced!) Fabula Nova Crystallis, they marketing brains at Squenix put out a fantastic video recapping the first two games of the trilogy. It's clever and it's adorable and if you have any love for Lightning's saga it's worth the time.
Additionally, if you're willing to make a trip to southern California in March, you've got a chance to visit Alhambra and see a Final Fantasy X and X-2 exhibit in an art gallery from the 15th to the 26th. If you can get there for the opening, you might even get an early copy of the games and get it signed by members of the original production team!
Finally, in non-Final Fantasy news, there're updates on the Tomb Raider and Bravely Default fronts. For Lara Croft, the "Definitive" version of the game came out for new Sony and Microsoft consoles. For Bravely Default, though, check out this nice long piece from Kotaku about the origins and the future of this new IP. There are two really interesting takeaways, in my opinion. First, the parallels between Bravely and the old-school Final Fantasies that so many gamers love, and how Bravely could become what Final Fantasy once was, but for handhelds. The other is producer Tomoya Asano's now-stated goal of making Bravely a yearly series. Obviously that won't ever happen, but how many of you would either pick up or dust off a 3DS for something like that?
Source: Square Enix, Kotaku
Square-Enix recently launched the Square-Enix Collective website (linked below), a partnership with IndieGogo to publish independently-developed games under the Square-Enix label with a crowdfunding model. Developers can create pages on Collective to pitch their games, fans can vote on which projects Square-Enix considers in the Collective forums, and after a successful approval from Squenix's nefarious secret panel* a project can begin the funding process just like a KickStarter or IndieGogo project.
What's notable about this new initiative from Square-Enix is that they're very keep on transparency and open to new ideas. Or at least it sounds that way. As Square-Enix president Yosuke Matsuda expressed last fall:
"We're no longer in an age where customers are left in the dark until a product is completed. We need to shift to a business model where we frequently interact with our customers for our products that are in-development and/or prior to being sold, have our customers understand games under development, and finally make sure we develop games that meet their expectations."
Square-Enix's faith in this relatively new business model could mean independent developers eventually working on a wide variety of intellectual properties. Square-Enix announced that the mostly-abandoned Eidos franchises of Fear Effect, Gex, and Anachronox are available for independent developers to work on via the Collective. What's next? Potentially anything in the Square-Enix catalog.
*There are no details on how the approval process works, and Squenix won't likely be sharing any.
Source: Square-Enix Collective, IGN (January 2014), Siliconera (October 2013)
For the new year, there are new tidbits. Of course, that's the same as it is on (many) Fridays, but it actually is a new year now. So... there?
Bravely Default is on the minds of a lot of Square Enix gamers these days, with the Western release growing closer at hand. That means it was probably a bad time for news to break that there was "censorship" happening in the Western art assets. It's a bit of an entertaining throwback to 25 years ago, but beyond that we can all only speculate as to the rationale behind the changes to the clothing on a couple female characters. I, for the record, am fine with it.
The Japanese convention Jump Festa was going on during the time of the last CoN tidbits; now that it's over, it's a good time to wrap up all the goodies that came out during its short run. Back to Bravely Default, a short new trailer for Bravely Second debuted at Jump Festa, but there was virtually nothing to it besides a few seconds of gameplay and some pretty neat concept art drawn in a sort of live-sketch way. Note that the main character for Bravely Second appears to be somewhat sensibly dressed, at least for a Squenix game!
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix also got a new trailer. I'm not sure what else to say about it, really. If you like Kingdom Hearts and particularly the HD 1.5 Remix, you'll be right at home here? We can go with that. As an aside, Kingdom Hearts III is being worked on simultaneously to HD 2.5 Remix, which is probably not thrilling news to the people anxiously waiting for a brand-new entry in the series.
In interesting but probably irrelevant in reality news, it looks like Square Enix has dipped its toes into on-demand streaming gaming by adding the newest PC version of Final Fantasy VII to streaming services in Japan. Debuting on Christmas, this release was simultaneous to two competing services, for approximately $15. It seems like RPGs would be a no-brainer for streaming gaming, especially old RPGs, as the only parts of those games that would tax an internet connection would be the FMVs. However, if you're one of the few people in the States who actually have an OnLive, I wouldn't get too excited.
We had the 25th Anniversary celebrations for Final Fantasy not long ago, and now it's time for the SaGa series to follow suit. That series has kind of fallen by the wayside from its heyday with the original Game Boy, but perhaps the anniversary is the time for a kickstart.
Finally, if you're an Xbox 360 gamer with Gold, you've got a few days left to get the first ever Square Enix game offered for free under that program. The game is Sleeping Dogs, which was received pretty well upon its release. It's available until the 15th, after which time it will be replaced by the Lara Croft sidestory, The Guardian of Light, making January a Squenixey kind of month on the 360; not a bad way to kick off the year.
Source: siliconera, Cheat Code Central, Xbox Official Site
For tidbits this time around, there are a bevy of updates for games old and new, so many that they can't even be listed off conveniently! Perhaps it's the holiday spirit taking over - anyway, let's start with the old.
The venerable Final Fantasy XI turned eleven years old last month (in Japan - the game didn't debut in North America for another eleven months after that). To celebrate, the folks still running that game for the die hard players put together some promotions for the "11th Vana'versary," including free re-activation until December 23rd for players that let their accounts lapse and some new features like a 25% increase in movement speed across the world and better teleportation. While I'm sure a lot of fans have moved on to XIV by now, it seems like it might be a fun bit of nostalgia to go back, at least for a little while.
Of course, for Square Enix, everything old is eventually new again, as evidenced by the glut of remakes and ports we've seen over the years. The latest, at least in Japan, is a smartphone remake of the original Dragon Quest game. To promote it, Squenix gave away a million copies in two days. Additionally, for the folks who have complained about Squenix' pricing models on smartphones, check this out - even the folks who are having to pay are only having to pony up about five bucks, far better than the Final Fantasy games that have appeared on iOS and Android. Of course, that awesomeness is offset pretty quickly by the fact that Dragon Quest VIII was also just released at $27.
In terms of recent releases, the recent remake of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years seems to be missing a bit of content; the challenge dungeons that made up a part of each episode's content were not included in the new release. Those dungeons are not part of the storyline of the game at all, so new players might not notice their absence. For another somewhat recent release, Final Fantasy XIV, Squenix announced that the game for Playstation 4 will release at the same time as it does in Japan, specifically for the PS4 Japan launch date.
A third recent/upcoming release, Lightning Returns, is out in Japan now (but not yet here, we're still waiting for next year). Now, while it might be assumed that CoN hates Final Fantasy XIII because only old games can ever be good, rest assured that I'd love to see this game succeed. However, early indications are that the game simply isn't selling as well as its predecessor in Japan. It's still possible that sales will pick up later, but the launch numbers don't compare favorably. That said, if you are looking to get this game when it comes out in the West, you'll want to watch this: on their official blog, Squenix released a "trailer" to show all the cool stuff in the collector's edition. A trailer for a special game package? I suppose at least it's different than a countdown, and more informative, too.
Finally, some new games! Jump Festa, the Japanese anime/manga/games expo, runs next weekend, and Square Enix have announced their lineup. Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix and the Theatrhythm sequel will both be playable, as well as Final Fantasy X/X-2 remaster and Dragon Quest VIII mobile. Final Fantasy VI mobile will have a trailer, as will the Bravely Default sequel, which follows hot on the heels of that game (which CoN readers already knew about) being officially announced.
To wrap up, it recently came out that Akihiko Yoshida, a designer for Square Enix for almost twenty years, had left the company. In some places, there was much gnashing of teeth - "Look at all the long-time talent Squenix are losing! That company is useless and will soon be gone forever!" To the naysayers, though, Yoshida spoke with Famitsu this week to discuss the change, saying that the choice to leave was not because of the state of the company, but just that his career track within the company wasn't allowing him to design as much as he wanted. He's now a freelancer, and who's his first client? Well, it's Square Enix. I guess he's not hating their current direction.
There we go, there's another couple weeks of tidbits! Will there be more before I go on Christmas break? Who knows?! Just enjoy Father Christmog in the meantime.
Source: siliconera, PlayOnline, Square Enix Members Blog
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