Final Fantasy X HD Audio Drama Hints That a Final Fantasy X-3 Announcement Is Immanent
With the dead horse of Final Fantasy XIII soon to be flogged beyond the point of profitability, the collective hive mind of team Toriyama has seemingly turned to consider which Square Enix property they can run into the ground next – with the answer being: Final Fantasy X. The past week has seen the release of Final Fantasy X and X-2 HD in Japan, and along with it the release of the Ultimania book for that particular title. For those unfamiliar with Square Enix’s Ultimania series, they are essentially a post mortem of a game’s development, presented in the form of a guidebook. This specific Ultimania came replete with a nugget of information which seemed to open the door on the possibility of Final Fantasy X receiving further sequels, as the game’s scenario writer, Kazushige Nojima, stated that he would like to see Final Fantasy X-3 become a reality if demand for the title were sufficient enough to warrant it.
“If there’s enough demand, then we may possibly see new developments, I would personally like to see a sequel like X-3.”
The fact that this musing made it into the Ultimania would seem to suggest that something is already afoot with respect to the Final Fantasy X IP, yet it is nonetheless plausible that this could have been the idle speculation of one of the game’s original developers. This may have been the point at which this story died were it not for the fact that the Final Fantasy X audio drama also saw release this week, and it all but confirms a future chapter in the story of Spira. The audio drama is told from the perspective of new characters, Kurugum and Chaumi, the latter of whom claims to be Auron’s daughter. These characters then encounter an injured Tidus and a Yuna who has reverted to her Final Fantasy X persona – the two have now apparently broken up. Kurugum and Chaumi have sought out Yuna at the behest of one-time New-Yevon leader, Baralai, on account of the fact that Sin has seemingly returned. The audio concludes with Yuna’s famous pledge to defeat Sin [as lifted from Final Fantasy X], accompanied by the cheering of a large crowd.
While one dearly loves the world of Final Fantasy X, this nonetheless comes as something of a blow. Modern day Square Enix leaves one with very little hope that the game will be handled with anything like the respect and competence that it deserves, especially seeing as it is likely to be presided over by Motomu Toriyama, the man who has never read a fanfic that he has not enjoyed immensely. Indeed, his fingerprints are all over the game’s premise [as laid down in the audio drama]: Sin is back because an antagonist is required, and Tidus has broken up with Yuna so they can get back together over the course of the game [like we have not sat through this plotline twice already]. Lazy. Toriyama once again raises the bar for schlock fan-service narrative.
Resident Evil Players Are Now in Their Late Thirties, Early Forties
In a recent investor overview of the Resident Evil series, Capcom mentioned that one of the problems with developing for a such a long-running series [seventeen years] is the fact that the average age of the fanbase is now late thirties and early forties, making them slightly older than the age of the average gamer in general – hardly cause for great alarm. Capcom theorises that they are at risk of this demography growing out of games, and, in order to adress this perceived threat, have begun doing Resident Evil tie-ins with popular fashion magazines, and have opened a Resident Evil themed cafe in Shibuya.
“The longevity of the “Resident Evil” title also comes with problems. The main user group is now in their late-30s to 40s, and the average age is also going up as the series goes on with an increasing possibility that some percentage of the existing users will outgrow games altogether. Therefore, there is a constant need to gain new users, and the creation of opportunities for exposure in fashion magazines was carried out as an example.
We have created opportunities for receiving coverage in fashion magazines by collaborating with fashion brands which are popular among young people. We are also actively working on spreading name recognition among non-gamers through expansion in other industries, including the “Halloween Horror Night” event in alliance with Universal Studios Japan (USJ) and the opening of the “Resident Evil Café and Grill S.T.A.R.S.” (a “Resident Evil”-themed restaurant) in Shibuya PARCO, Tokyo. These collaborative events are opportunities to be enjoyed by non-gamers as well, so it is important to plan them so that anyone can enjoy them and not aim them at a section of our core gamers.”
It is precisely this kind of thinking which typifies all that is wrong with modern day Japanese games development. If Capcom wish to retain their longtime Resident Evil customer-base, then it would help if they refrained from releasing games which would insult the intelligence of the average twenty year old. Similarly, if Capcom wishes to bring new players into the franchise, then they need only create great games, rather than rely on all manner of marketing wankery – which is ultimately a distraction. If Capcom are curious as to why the Resident Evil series has not been bringing in as many fresh players as other established franchises, then it might have something to do with the fact that Capcom have not released a good mainline entry in the series since early 2005’s Resident Evil 4 – that is nine years!
Resident Evil: Revelations was great, but it was marketed as a spin-off title, and was released after a series of notoriously sub-standard Resident Evil spin-off titles, like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. All the fashion tie-ins in the world will not make Resident Evil games fashionable if the games keep sucking. Younger gamers will buy into the series if the games are worthy of their time. More importantly, nobody is looking to buy into a series which babies down the existing formula in accordance with what Capcom’s marketing pie-charts inform them is the alchemical recipe for success.
The Rumour Mill
The month of December has been a busy one for trusted NeoGAF industry insider, thuway [Ahsan Rasheed]. Intriguingly, it would seem that despite its March release, 720p Microsoft exclusive, Titanfall, is still struggling to maintain a consistent framerate, and the team is waiting on Microsoft’s new Xbone drivers in the hope that they will be able to improve performance.
“Oh and fun fact about Titan Fall, performance is not up to snuff at 720p, waiting for January driver updates :).”
It is one thing when a developer struggles to compensate for the performance delta between PS4 and the Xbone when handling next-gen titles, but quite another when they run into the same problem when afforded the luxury of working on an exclusive title based on last-gen technology. At any rate, polishing is always the last stage of development, and Respawn have a couple of months to get their game in order.
December has also been a big month for console sales, what with the holidays fast approaching. It is on this subject that thuway was able to impart some choice morsels of information to properly contextualise the PS4’s performance in relation to the Xbone. It would seem that the second week of December saw the PS4 sell between 240 and 250 thousand units in North America alone, meaning that it probably will not be all that long until Sony can announce that they have sold three million PS4s worldwide. Meanwhile, retail channels have reportedly been completely flooded with Xbone consoles, leading thuway to speculate that Microsoft will prefer to announce how many Xbones they have shipped durring the holidays, rather than the number they have sold.
“I really hope someone comes forth with the weekly Xbox One number, because I can assure the PS4 is 240-250 k :). People are buying it.
I’ve heard folks at Sony are both excited and afraid of the PS4’s momentum. Things are being read carefully, and lids are being sealed.
It’s scary how much momentum Sony has going forward. I expect PS4 to gain 66-70% market share once the dust settles.
How must Microsoft feel knowing there are Xbox One’s in stock at retailers mere days before Christmas?
Shipped to retailers =/= sold to consumers. We’ll see an artificial NPD number for December b/c channels are flooded.”
Finally, thuway suggests that Sony are working on an internal JRPG at their Japan studio set for release on the PS4, leading to much in the way of fanboy gushing about franchises like Arc the Lad, Wild Arms, and Legend of Dragoon. Unfortunately, his information is too scarce to go much beyond this – and as such, this information is probably the least reliable of what has been recounted.
“I heard something about Sony’s internal JRPG on PS4, but it’s vague, and I’ll leave it up to the original source to break it. He’s around.”
At any rate, the term ‘JRPG’ can conjure very particular ideas for those of us who enjoy a Japanese aesthetic, when in actual fact Sony may just be working on Demon’s Souls 2 or a Monster Hunter clone.