Is the Final Fantasy Franchise Doomed?

The Final Fantasy franchise has always been synonymous with the JRPG genre. The first few titles helped define the genre, while VII is widely regarded as having popularized the genre among Western audiences.

However, with the past few releases, Final Fantasy has drifted away from what made it famous; with every major installment, a core feature would be modified, or even replaced. From game to game, it wasn’t much of a difference. However, over the course of five or six titles, it can completely change a franchise.

In the case of Final Fantasy, it means the change from classic JRPG to more of an action focus. And now, the two have seemingly converged, for lack of a better term; according to reports, the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake is being done with a focus on action. If the likes of Final Fantasy XIII are any indication, then the once beloved title could be nothing more than a bastardisation of the original. Simply a re-skin of the likes of XIII and its ilk.

Final Fantasy - HeadStuff.org
Screenshot from DISSIDIA Final Fantasy NT. Source.

However, this begs the question; is the Final Fantasy franchise doomed to fail?

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By many accounts, the last few games in the franchise have been the least well-received of the lot. While many gamers would rank the games differently, general consensus among fans is that Square’s time is long past due; many fans would agree that the franchise’s golden age was between V and X.

Based on the franchise’s trajectory since its inception, many would believe that it’s on its way out; it started gaining popularity with each release, eventually gaining critical mass with VII, VIII and IX. Since then, the franchise has peaked and has slowly been declining in popularity since, and that mightn’t be down to just game quality. Since its peak, several great Final Fantasy games have been released.

However, they were released into a market full of JRPGs, and just RPGs in general, each inspired in part by the popularity of Final Fantasy. In a small way, the franchises success may be its undoing. Thanks to how it popularized the genre, it was now up against stiffer and stiffer competition, which undoubtedly hurt sales. Because of that, Square had to change tact and try differentiate the franchise even further; a brand name would only get them so far.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-xvMsEw3LE

Hence the changing of key features over time. However, the plan doesn’t seem to have worked; though the franchise sees occasional bumps in popularity, it’s nowhere near the market force it once was. While once held up as the benchmark for any JRPG, it no longer lives up to its own reputation. That doesn’t mean that it can’t have a Renaissance; they just mightn’t have one with their current plan.

Many hoped that this would happen when Square began working on the Final Fantasy VII remake; however, instead of learning from what made the game so beloved, the publisher is instead ploughing through with their current strategy and giving the game an action focus; essentially forcing a square box into a round hole.

Every series ends, eventually. It’s amazing that Final Fantasy made it well into double digits for core releases. Now, though, it looks like it’s on it’s final flight. 


Featured Image Credit.

24 Comments
  1. sagewisdom says

    …You do know that Final Fantasy XV has sold 7 million copies right? One of the fastest to reach that number too? Or that the only reason the supposed golden age was golden was because people didn’t have internet to nitpick and complain on the same scale?

    I think you need to do more research.

    1. robert mirka says

      FF dead, your small mindedness is on another level. I grew up on the series, I loved all of them. Action combat is a now requirement, games and tech have evolved, and FF is doing a great job. Even on the MMO front XIV is literally the best out now. These games take an immense amount to create, and I for one scold you for trying to shame a series because it is keeping with the times. Turn based was fine in it’s day, but that day has long since passed.

      1. True FF Fan says

        FF is dead, has been dead for years. Now there are games being released with name Final Fantasy on them that sell well, but they aren’t FF games. If they released a call of duty like shooter and call it Mega Man 12, is it really a Mega Man? Of course not, just like FFXV isn’t a Final Fantasy game. Last real FF game was FFX. FFXI and FFXII are great games (well for the first 10 years FFXI was an abusive game but they fixed that years ago) but they were the first non-FF games to have FF titles. However, the last real FF game released was the first Final Fantasy Dimensions, that was a real FF game (the sequel is not a FF game at all.)

        1. pyrophilia says

          FFXI was way too hardcore for an MMO before the latest updates. I consider myself pretty much a hardcore gamer and it was too intense for even me. I had real issues. IT took me a very long time to get around to doing the Chains of Promanthia missions and because I didn’t finish them around launch time it was difficult to form parties to progress through the missions and there was NO duty finder the way there was with FFXIV which made it easy to progress through the quest. In FFXI you’d be sitting around Jueno or Whitegate for HOURS making shouts to form parties to go do the quest related to COP and not only that but much of the end game gear was prohibitively expensive on the auction house. Only 7 slots on the Auction house and it could cost several million to buy the gear you wanted. It took a very long time to build up reputation with a Linkshell too for Sky runs. The End game was absurdly hard and I never actually did get Sea Access…

          The latest updates have addressed many of the problems and made the game far more casual and made it easier to obtain Gil to finance expensive purchases.

          Our God damn linkshells never organized runs through the missions to get Sea Access for all of their members. They should have.

      2. sagewisdom says

        …What? How does this in anyway apply to me?

      3. Kenji Wright says

        Action combat is a requirement? No, dumbed-down combat for idiots is a requirement.
        This isn’t the 90ties. Back then it was REQUIRED to be skilled to actually play a game, Most gamers nowadays are suckers.

        Ps. Have you ever played an RPG from the 20xx? It was rocket science just to get into it.

    2. True FF Fan says

      lol Big sales means good promotion, not good game. People buy things and later realize they don’t like what they bought. I bought FF13, 13-2, 13-3 and 15…I didnt enjoy a single one of those games, yet I bought all 4 full priced special editons at launch. Selling a large amount has very little to do with the quality of the game, it’s all about how it is advertised and brand recognition.

      1. sagewisdom says

        Considering that’s sales over time and not initial sales, it means word of mouth was also good enough to warrant people seeking it out. Most streamers enjoyed the game, it has good reviews, and people are all looking forward to DLC.

        That isn’t good promotion from the company, that’s good promotion from the fans.

    3. Kenji Wright says

      Cross promotion. Movies, Android games, Animes…

      FF15 has gotten so much attention, that it would be a disappointment if it weren’t the most selling FF there ever way.

  2. Akiin Moonlight says

    This is just Shit
    FF is on a High
    Its called evolution ; )

    1. True FF Fan says

      Evolution? If you call intentionally changing a series to the point where it’s not even the same genre an evolution then I expect Fallout76 to be a tetris-like puzzle game. lol (FF started as a RPG and is now an action series, that’s not evolution, that’s abandoning what made the series loved.)

      1. Bitter Sweet says

        Mario isn’t sidescroll anymore and people still love it. And when did FF stop being an RPG?

        1. Kenji Wright says

          Mario wasn’t ever a “sidescroller” first.
          Mario was a “sidescroller” like FF was a 2D pixel game.
          It was a limitation, not an intended feature.
          Mario is, and always will be a “Jump n run”.

      2. pyrophilia says

        I actually in retrospect agree with this point of view regarding FFXIV, it’s why I went back to FFXI. I realized I had no interest in playing an ACTION game with Dice. If square enix imagines the market is interested in games that fuse action/adventure to RPG they’ve got another thing coming and I really would encourage a lot of FFXIV’s players to revolt and quit.

  3. Bitter Sweet says

    Oh, no it’s failing because it’s not catering to older fans’ nostalgia. I’m a sure buy to FF series no matter what, it’s the RPG I grew up with, along with BOF, Suikoden and etc. 🙂

    1. True FF Fan says

      I was once a mindless FF fan like you, I snapped out of it when that garbage called ffxiii came out. After that, FFXIV 1.0 was crap, FFXIV 1.15 was amazing with nearly all 1.0 issues addressed, FFXIV 1.23b was a downgrade, new team, destroyed the original lore, removed more than half the spells to add jobs, jobs were a shadow of the original classes. FFXIV 2.0+ is repetitive to the point that it’s no longer fun. FFXV wasnt even a real FF, it was a side game that they renamed FF15. FFXVI will probably be a space flight sim or maybe a racing title, might as well at this point, there hasn’t been a real FF since FFX, right when the creator of FF left the company (shocker, FF games were no longer real FF games from that point on. lol)

      1. Bitter Sweet says

        Mindless fan? lol. FF13 wasn’t the best, I don’t praise it, but I still played in order to make my own evaluation, not based on anyone else. I don’t play online FF. FF15 wasn’t a real FF game? What makes a real FF game then?

        1. koyo koyo says

          There is a reason a large amount of fans of the FF franchise feel that it has essentially died after X. Why is that? It’s anybody’s guess. The games do not feel the same after X and while I enjoyed playing XII, it was lacking the same charm previous games had. I will say this though, it is not nostalgia, that word is used solely to diminish criticism.

          1. Bitter Sweet says

            I say the reason is, FF is good but gamers’ standards are higher now because of all the games they try to compare to. And Devs are stuck at trying to modernize a game while trying to keep the classic style of the previous FF “charms”(Which no one can clearly point out). The grey area is thin and isn’t clicking with some older players. Personally to me, it didn’t die, I liked FF12. I like the new take on it now too and I look at each title as its own, not “I wish it was like FFX or FF6”.

    2. Kenji Wright says

      It’s failing because it’s catering to brainless fools who can’t manage strategic thinking, like yourself.

      Now, in an ever growing market of fools buying games catered to the lowest common demoninator isn’t that a good thing? No.

      FF15 does everything god of war, nier or the witcher does, but worse. They simply can’t compete with their limited experience in action rpgs.

  4. pyrophilia says

    Have you considered the fact that the core demographic for the genre is aging? I mean sure I’m still playing 14 at 32 but a lot of people my age just don’t have the time or have more important things going on than playing a video game. That could be a huge part of why the genre is receding in popularity- not just competition but an aging core demographic.

    1. Kenji Wright says

      have you considered that the niche/genre FF15 is trying to fill is already oversaturated?

      They simply ain’t gonna cut it with their limited experience.

      1. pyrophilia says

        for a niche RPGS and JPRGS are pretty mainstream as are MMORPG’s.

        And in particular Square Enix is like the Flagship of Video Game RPGS.

        I don’t see how you could say what you’re arguing. Also quiet the necro response there.

  5. Dwayne Elliott says

    Machine Zone with its version Final Fantasy XV A New Empire will be the end of the franchise if they are allowed to continue using the Final Fantasy name.
    It started out ok but releases of features began rolling out faster and faster making most, if not all, of what you have obsolete and useless.
    They make it impossible to find many items in their available packs, markets or event prizes. The only thing moving at a faster pace than their unrelenting release of new features is the growing number of angry players leaving the game.
    There are so many abandoned accounts that devs do realm mergers in an effort to make it appear there are more active players than there actually are.
    It is more and more apparent gamer requests and influence is ignored by the nongamers running Machine Zone. They don’t care if you leave because they have many variations of the exact game using different names and graphics but the same set up designed solely for potential profit over players ability to actively participate much in the game without spending hundreds or thousands of real dollars to buy items made obsolete within very little time due to feature release rate.
    Unless you enjoy showing off how you have more money to waste than you have working brain cells, your best bet is to stay away from Machine Zone run games.

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