While there are those who swear Square Enix can do no wrong, there are others who insist that its marketing could use a little work. Recently, the explosive outrage is being directed towards the mobile games that Square Enix has begun to market over the years and the prices it’s demanding. While any gamer would be thrilled about buying a game for only $15, that price doesn’t include the premium fee one has to pay to even play! Also, when compared to other mobile games that can be bought on iTunes or other such marketing sites for around $10, it is enough to offset the balance of Square Enix’s popularity.
For example, Final Fantasy Dimensions (Released August 2012 for iOS and Android) consists of a Prologue (which comes free) and four other chapters that can be bought together, or individually for different prices. Chapter One: Reckoning is set at $2.99, but Chapter Two: The Generals Approach, Chapter Three: Warriors of Light and Darkness and Chapter Four: Twilight are all set at $9.99. All of the chapters bought together is priced at $28.99, and according to comments left on iTunes, the price is the least of anyone’s concerns.
In a recent interview with Kotaku.com, it was plain to see that even Square Enix is uncomfortable with the disgust from the fans, and the dodgy answers gave little clarity into the minds of the Japanese company heads. As it is generally hard for most Americans to grasp the complexity of the Japanese mind, or the differences in language and understanding, it is easy to see how we would fail to see from Square Enix’s perspective. When asked about the high prices, Square Enix responded that the games were originally intended for consoles, but were reconfigured for the mobile platform. This, depending on the game, doesn’t include a handheld device switch over. Those who play a game on their iPhone, may or may not be able to play it on their iPad (which is generally preferable as the screen is bigger).
However, Square Enix remains firm with its decision, and while it is one that is ruffling feathers, I find it to be perfectly understandable. When you come to realize that video games are a luxury that one has to be able to afford, you see you’re spending the extra money for a Square Enix game and it will be worth your while. Not to mention these complaints are coming from people who can afford to drop over $200 or more an iPhone or an iPad.
When Kingdom Hearts 2 came out, I paid $50 for my first copy, a price I thought was outrageous at the time! Somehow, it came out of the box scratched and glitchy, and I (having done what any irresponsible teen does in excitement) had thrown out my receipt. Did I cry and whine and yell at the guy who sold it to me that day? No. Did I wait to buy it used at a reduced price? No. I forked over another $50 for the game I’d waited so long for, and burned my arms flipping burgers for. Essentially, I paid $100 plus tax for one game, my whole paycheck at the time, and never once felt bad about it. In fact, I still own that game and play it every so often. I’ll admit it was an idiotic move, and I take responsibility for my decisions, but I’d make the decision again in a heartbeat! While I now know the game by heart, I remember how I felt at every new level and experience. I also keep receipts.
Despite the criticism read in the interview article on Kotaku, I felt the author might be a little too harsh and judgmental. Sure, the prices are higher than expected, and gamers are very demanding. We’re always waiting to be impressed by the next big thing, and we always want more. However, criticizing Square Enix for coming out with games for the mobile phones or the handheld devices is foolish! It’s not like the company had to make mobile games to keep afloat. It already has an excellent and loyal fanbase, interesting ideas, and stellar games that many consider to be the peak of Japanese gaming. Square knows what it is like to fail, it know what it is like to be going under, and I’m grateful that it went through that period! If it had never failed, it might have never made the Final Fantasy series!
It is my belief, and the loud view point of many others, that Square Enix shouldn’t have to change its practices to suit the wants of gamers. The moment it does that is the moment fans start crying “SELLOUT!”. It may have a different way of doing things than companies in the USA, but it is certainly impressive it took the time to evaluate every game individually before coming up with a price they think is acceptable. And while each game has a different price and premium, it is well earned with the amount of detail in its work, the game time, and the surprises it includes is more than enough to keep fans interested. Square Enix is successful because it is good at what it does, not because of its prices.
While many people are labeling this as a “defense” on Square Enix’s part, I see it more as an explanation to people who don’t understand. Square Enix is not really defending its rights to price the games, and considering the roundabout way of answering, it was anything but a defense! However, I as a fan would like to defend Square Enix and calm the American outrage by pointing out that video games are a luxury, they are not a need. If you have extra money to spend after paying all your bills, wouldn’t you rather pay between $30-$40 for a mobile game than $50-$60 for a console game? I know I would… If I could afford a iPhone!