Sometime near the turn of the century, Hironobu Sakaguchi had two groundbreaking ideas. First, was a full CGI movie. Second, was an MMO. Of course, most of us are well aware of how well Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within did. What would have been a blockbuster success was a disappointing foray into Hollywood. It remains one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. The movie did so poorly, it bankrupted their production company Square Pictures, and put SquareSoft in the red.
Final Fantasy XI did exceedingly well. With over 200,000 players daily active players, Final Fantasy XI was Square Enix’s most profitable game.
Final Fantasy XIV tried to emulate the success. However, it was little more than Final Fantasy XI 2.0, with a much more frustrating interface. The game was a massive failure, but Square Enix wouldn’t give up on their primary title. Speaking of which, Final Fantasy XIII’s trilogy came and went, whereas developers shelved Final Fantasy Versus XIII. They needed something to save them. Enter Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – one of the most popular MMO titles today.
You see the pattern, right? A big disaster could have tarnished the company’s reputation forever. They lost tons of money in the process. Yet, somehow Square Enix pulls through at the last minute. In a sense, Final Fantasy XIV is And they can attribute their success to the MMOs.
Apparently, the business model is very lucrative. The subscriptions and cash shops constantly net Square Enix healthy margins of profit each month. It all revolves around microtransactions. Funnily enough, mainline title Final Fantasy XV adopted a weaker version of this structure. Every so often, Final Fantasy XV makes an update, releases a new DLC or expansion, and collects the proceedings.
Remember when people thought Final Fantasy would end if XV flopped? Well, it wouldn’t have. They would have found a way to save it. Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t the end for Final Fantasy either. But the MMOs are a big reason for their success and risks. They may have even saved the company. What do you think?