Final Fantasy XVI Pre-Orders Were Never A Cause For Square Enix To Panic



Story Highlights

  • According to Game Journalist Imran Khan, Square Enix is slightly panicking over the pre-order sales of FFXVI as they track behind that of FFXV even when considering the number of launch platforms. 
  • One of the major factors that have impacted the pre-orders for Final Fantasy XVI is its release window. The next mainline game had to compete with the likes of Street Fighter 6 and Diablo 4.
  • Square Enix’s actions in recent years have failed to inspire confidence in the company. Despite this, there’s hope for the company if FFXVI and Foamstars are any indicators.

As the launch of Final Fantasy XVI draws closer, new pieces of information about it continue to surface. Earlier this month, Game Journalist Imran Khan wrote that Square Enix was panicking slightly over the pre-order numbers for the sixteenth mainline entry in the iconic franchise. Needless to say, there was a lot of conversation around it, but in my opinion, Square Enix might be jumping the gun on this one.

Final Fantasy is perhaps one of the most prominent icons of the gaming industry. It started as a do-or-die title for Square back in the day and saved the company from bankruptcy. Soon becoming its flagship series and spawning the highly successful MMORPG, Final Fantasy XI, Square would tussle with another episode of near-bankruptcy due to the original Final Fantasy XIV. FFXVI aims to put the series back on the map.

Final Fantasy XVI is CBU3's attempt to put the series back on the map.
Final Fantasy XVI is CBU3’s attempt to put the series back on the map.

I wouldn’t say it’s new for Square Enix to put itself on the spot and then suffer the consequences. When it comes to the pre-orders for Final Fantasy XVI though, Square’s ignoring a lot of facts. XVI attempts to elevate Final Fantasy to must-play status and leave its mark on the landscape. From what I’ve seen of it so far, it has everything going for it and only a colossal mess-up would prevent this.

But as Square Enix allegedly starts to panic a little, it’s important that we take a step back and review the situation. What are the factors that have impacted the pre-orders for Final Fantasy XVI and is it really something worth panicking over?

Final Fantasy XVI Has A Questionable Release Window

The release window for any game decides several factors of its launch. It’s a competitive space and developers tend to prioritize release dates to ensure minimal friction while maximizing the attention. While some games tend to do well despite being up against giants, this doesn’t hold true for most situations. The same can be said for Final Fantasy XVI in the context of pre-orders.

Square Enix is releasing FFXVI on June 22, 2023, and this month has been packed. We just got out of May with the huge release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and it broke sales records in spectacular fashion. Elden Ring sold over 13 million units in a month while Zelda did that within its first week. That can be chalked up to the strength of the Zelda IP, Nintendo’s marketing, and the overall quality of the product.

FFXVI had to compete with new entries in iconic franchises such as Street Fighter 6 and Diablo 4.
FFXVI had to compete with new entries in iconic franchises such as Street Fighter 6 and Diablo 4.

Similarly, June has been packed with a few behemoths as well. Capcom launched Street Fighter 6 on the 2nd of this month and it has been a resounding success, selling a million copies within a week. Street Fighter V was a disaster for the longest time, especially with how DLC costumes might have helped in keeping it alive. Capcom took notes and implemented the feedback to make it one of the most fun and accessible fighting games to date.

And that’s not all, Blizzard threw Diablo 4 into the fray as well. Players who preordered it got early access prior to the global launch on June 6. Diablo carries a lot of power and the IP itself is extremely recognizable. It goes without saying that people will drop the cash on it just to get a headstart. After all, people even played a ton of Diablo Immortal despite how pay-to-win it was.

Placing Final Fantasy XVI in a window like that knowing about the competition would normally be considered a bad move. And even in this case it is a bad decision but they have the marketing power of Sony due to the timed exclusivity. Similar to how Forspoken, being the failure that it was, managed to sell to a degree, FFXVI is in a far more advantageous position when you look at it from this perspective.

Another problem with Final Fantasy XVI is its divisive nature. Most of the older Final Fantasy players are averse to change and want the series to return to its turn-based roots. Action Combat isn’t the signature Final Fantasy for them and this prevents those players from getting into newer entries. While I understand where they’re coming from, the future of this series lies in responsive and high-octane action combat.

Timed Exclusivity Naturally Decreases Pre-Orders

It goes without saying that limiting a game to one platform will naturally restrict the number of possible pre-orders as well. Especially if said platform isn’t as common as its predecessor. Final Fantasy XVI is releasing on PlayStation 5 only so you’re locking out the playerbase that’s on PC and Xbox. On PC, if you release the title on Epic Games Store, you’re locking out loyal Steam users like me who don’t like Epic enough to use it.

Compared to FFXV's launch and availability of the PS4, supply was severely impacted due to the covid pandemic.
Compared to FFXV’s launch and availability of the PS4, supply was severely impacted due to the covid pandemic.

Exclusivity will always restrict the possible sales of any game, that’s a consequence that is always taken into account. Combined with a window packed with iconic releases and it’s impressive that Square Enix would actually even consider panicking when all this was pretty much a given. Another point that was stated by Imran Khan is that Final Fantasy XVI’s pre-order numbers are tracking behind FFXV.

What’s worth noting is that the numbers being lower than XV’s pre-orders takes into account the lack of launch platforms. The problem here is that compared to the PlayStation 4, there aren’t as many units of PlayStation 5 out there for a multitude of reasons. After all, the launch happened right in the heat of covid and several industries were impacted. These factors need to be taken into account.

Beyond that, the concept of pre-ordering a product itself is perceived negatively. The abysmal launches in recent memory, Forspoken, for example, fail to inspire consumer confidence and it’s evident that corporations prioritize guaranteed day-one sales. This is reflected in exclusive pre-order bonuses that are often time-gated and later introduced as purchasable DLC. If I’m being honest, these kinds of practices aren’t consumer friendly.

And it’s not just about pre-orders as well. If FFXVI lives up to expectations, reviews and impressions are good, the day-one sales along with the overall sales are going to increase. Word of mouth is sure to boost overall revenue and attract more players to the world of Valisthea.

Square Enix’s Recent Endeavors May Make FFXVI A Difficult Purchase

There are a lot of things in the last ten years of Square Enix that really do no favors to Final Fantasy XVI despite it being a solid game and backed by the most prominent team in the company. Creative Business Unit 3 is known for turning Final Fantasy XIV into an unfathomable success after what happened with 1.0. I see why they would helm the next mainline entry considering the company wants the title to be a success.

However, since the days of FFXV, Square Enix has made several decisions that have continually reduced faith in one of the most prominent developers in the industry. The story about XV’s time in development hell is no secret and the same goes for how much of a disjointed experience it turned out to be. Not to mention the cancellation of DLC packs that were later released as a novel. 

Marvel's Avengers was an utter disappointment.
Marvel’s Avengers was an utter disappointment.

As if that wasn’t enough, what happened with Marvel’s Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy was another mistake. Avengers was a blatant disappointment, not only as a live service title but also as a game itself. It featured boring and uninspired gameplay, the story failed to be of any significance and ended up turning into a cash grab. You know it’s bad when Fortnite does justice to Spider-Man in place of an Avengers game.

Aside from the shutdown of Avengers, there’s Guardians of the Galaxy too. A truly spectacular game that captured the charm of the Guardians and their universe. It’s not unusual for great games to fail to meet the mark but it seems that Square Enix has lofty expectations. It’s great to dream big but you shouldn’t be unreasonable. But of course, SE ended up selling Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and SE Montreal to the Embracer Group.

That’s not where it ends though. There’s a whole line of mediocre and mismanaged constantly being released. Babylon’s Fall was launched and after poor reception and sales, the game was shut down because no one played the game. Then we have Valkyrie Elysium and Square Enix’s take on Fire Emblem, Diofield Chronicles. Both games got mixed reviews and didn’t really stand out.

Yes, Square Enix also released Octopath Traveler 2 and that was a great game. Combined with Final Fantasy VII Remake, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. But it’s not quite as impactful as it once was. Capcom was in the gutter for a long time too but its resurgence has been absolutely phenomenal. That’s what I want for Square Enix as someone who has been a fan for a long time.

The company’s stance on NFTs is definitely a cause for concern though. With how it genuinely believes this to be the future of gaming and continually pushes a rotten project like Symbiogenesis, it’s hard to see where this will go down the road.

Final Fantasy XVI May Be The Start Of Square Enix’s Resurgence

Square Enix has a lot of talented people under its wing and it’s a fact that it’s released tons of gems over the years. Yes, it might be in a rough spot right now but there’s always hope. FFXVI may not be turn-based but it doesn’t have to. Final Fantasy as a series has a bright future ahead. And after seeing the kind of action Square Enix has pulled off in FFVII Remake, it’s clear that they know what they’re doing.

Final Fantasy XVI is set for launch on June 22, 2023, as a timed exclusive for the PlayStation 5.

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