Square Enix may not want you to know how good or bad Final Fantasy 14 is until after they get your money.
As we get closer and closer to the eventual release of Final Fantasy XIV this year on September 30th (21st if you preordered the Collector’s Edition), I find myself caring less and less about this new MMORPG. Really, I stopped caring about the series after Final Fantasy 8. I loved Final Fantasy 7 as well as the game that was ruined to make it (Xenogears), but 8 sucked enough for me to skip 9 (which my friends often tell me was a mistake) and 10 was bad enough that I swore off the entire series. So forgive me if I don’t really give a damn about this game. To be completely frank, I currently consider the Square Enix logo on any game to be a warning that only crap lies within that box (see my review of Supreme Commander 2). So with that in mind, I must admit to feeling just a teensy bit of glee at the rumors emerging around the release of Final Fantasy 14.
According to the rumors, Square Enix is “requesting” that the gaming press don’t actually publish any reviews of the game until at least a month after the game’s release in order to give the online game time to, um…mature? These requests are apparently accompanying review copies of the game. While not exactly phrased as demands, that’s still probably what they are. Given the current state of game journalism these days there’s a good chance that anyone who decides not to comply with Square Enix’s requests won’t have a chance in hell at ever being sent another review copy of a Square Enix game.
So while Square Enix doesn’t want anyone reviewing the game until it’s been up for sale for a month (according to rumors), the fan reviews have been trickling over from Japanese gamers as well as those North American gamers who’ve participated in the beta. According to Amazon.com’s user reviews, things don’t look so good with the majority giving it 1 or 2 stars out of 5. That’s actually fantastic when compared to the reviews over at Amazon.co.jpwhich have 93 out of 117 reviewers giving it a score of 1 out of 5.
This does raise an important question though. MMORPGs rarely launch without any major bugs popping up. They are often works-in-progress that are never truly finished and are only barely playable when they first come out. You can watch a game like Star Wars: Galaxies from its first day to its last and the game that you’re playing when it finally shuts down will be nothing like the one you started with. So given the shaky and ever changing nature of MMORPGs, should we judge them harshly? Should we expect them to live up to the same expectations we would have for a single player game on a console? Shouldn’t we treat them special because the true heart of the game is in the community that forms from constant player interaction? Hell no! Crap knows no limits nor does it deserve any sort of special dispensation. If your game sucks then you deserve to fail and any reviewer who coddles that game and gives it a score it doesn’t deserve should to be hung up by his or her controller.