Final Fantasy XV Misrepresents Sales
It is out. For better or worse Final Fantasy XV is now out in the wild and available for purchase, and what gamers have found is a game that is equally spectacular and mediocre by turns. The scale and visual polish of the world as a whole is truly breathtaking, and the character interaction is reasonably satisfying. Contrast that with a story that is meandering, and a combat system that could be charitably described as a mess. This all combines into a game that is oddly compelling, but falls disappointingly short of what it might have been. This week Square Enix has been earnestly trying to push the narrative of Final Fantasy XV‘s huge success though. They have been trumpeting the news that Final Fantasy XV is the fastest selling Final Fantasy ever, by citing units shipped rather than actual game sales.
Square Enix is touting their five million unit shipment of Final Fantasy XV to retailers as proof that it is the biggest thing ever, ignoring the fact that this is at best a shipment based on the internal projections of retail in an attempt to predict what demand for the game might be. Moreover, Final Fantasy XV‘s five million unit first week shipment may completely smash Final Fantasy XIII‘s 1.3 million unit first week shipment, but that is because Final Fantasy XIII launched exclusively in Japan, and was not released to English speaking territories until some three months later. Essentially it is not a reasonable point of comparison to compare Final Fantasy XV‘s worldwide release to other installments which have previously been uniformly limited to a domestic Japanese launch. There would be something deeply wrong if Final Fantasy XV‘s first week shipment did not exceed that of past entries in the series.
Fuck Konami – that is the prevailing attitude of Hollywood film director, Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro was of course connected with the company back when he was collaborating with Hideo Kojima on Silent Hills, but has not really broached the subject since Konami killed off the project, other than to say that it broke his greasy heart. This week however it must have seemed time to open up about his experiences with Konami. This week marks the occasion of PSX2016, whereat Hideo Kojima’s next game, Death Stranding, features prominently. Also featured prominently is Guillermo del Toro in said game. It is unclear whether del Toro will play a creative role in the development of Death Stranding, but it certainly appears to be the case that he will be featured in the game as a character. With all this renewed interest in Kojima and del Toro’s creative partnership, Guillermo reached out via Twitter in order to impart his words of wisdom:
He then went on to clarify:
“Konami cancelling SH after PT is one of the most moronic things I’ve ever witnessed.”
Well might del Toro say this. PT was not a great game, and essentially functioned as a glorified walking simulator. That being said, the PT demo was amazingly well received, and this hype would in all likelihood have followed through to the release of Silent Hills. When Konami cancelled Silent Hills they were not simply sacking one of the industry’s most celebrated game designers in Kojima, but they were also scuppering one of the most wildly successful marketing campaigns ever devised. It remains to be seen whether this marketing will be transferable to Death Stranding, but the forthcoming PS4 exclusive may well end up being the recipient of Konami’s abortive marketing.
Hello Games Innocent of False Advertising
Finally some good news for Hello Games. Earlier this year it came to light that Hello Games was under investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for false advertising. The charge centered around the game’s Steam page, which featured several of the game’s early trailers which featured content that would not ultimately appear in the game. Central to the games acquittal is the implicit understanding that the game randomly generates much of its content, and so it is not entirely reasonable for players to expect specific pieces of content that they may have seen in the game’s trailer:
“The summary description of the game made clear that it was procedurally generated, that the game universe was essentially infinite, and that the core premise was exploration. As such, we considered consumers would understand the images and videos to be representative of the type of content they would encounter during gameplay, but would not generally expect to see those specific creatures, landscapes, battles and structures. We therefore considered whether the game and footage provided by Hello Games contained gameplay material of a sufficiently similar type to that depicted in the ad.”
To the best of one’s knowledge the Steam page did not contain any specific misinformation regarding the game’s features, and so any charges of misleading advertising rested solely on the landscapes and wildlife depicted in the game’s trailers. Because the game is advertised as making use of procedural generation it would not be logical for players to expect to see the same content that was depicted in them, as they can only be considered to be a rough guide as to what players may expect to see from within the game. Other than that the ASA simply looked into whether the standard gaming PC is capable of reproducing visuals to the standard of those seen in the trailer, and found no great inconsistencies there. Ultimately, this was a pretty low stakes victory in practical terms, given how toothless the ASA is to act on their findings, yet as a moral victory this is no doubt a very welcome turn of events for Hello Games.