Changing With the Times – How DLC has Affected Final Fantasy
DLC is perhaps the most defining aspect of this console generation; prior to the launch of the Xbox 360 you’d be hard-pressed to find any console gamer that even knew what the abbreviation stood for (Downloadable Content, for those of you living under a rock). Nowadays, however, it is implemented in one way or another into almost every major game that gets released - it has become so prevalent that the implementation of DLC is often one of the game’s most discussed features. Due to the obvious financial benefits, every major publisher wants DLC in their games in some form or another, and yes, that includes Square-Enix. In this article I shall be discussing the effects of DLC on the Final Fantasy series thus far as well as the potential impact it could have on the series going forward.
Last year (or 2011 in Japan) Square-Enix released Final Fantasy XIII-2. Aside from being the next game in the main Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII-2 also marked the introduction of DLC. Downloadable content included costumes for the game’s protagonists, additional weapons, coliseum battles and even additional story scenarios. Reaction from fans was mixed; on one hand there were those that praised Square's decision to expand the game through downloadable content post-release – expanding the game’s longevity and providing an enhanced experience for players. On the other hand, there were those that felt betrayed by Square-Enix for withholding and charging money for content that they felt could have already been implemented into the game at launch or provided for free.
It’s an interesting dilemma for Square, after all the Final Fantasy series prior to Final Fantasy XIII-2 had been known for providing a complete game experience straight from the disc – Square even resisted the temptation to add DLC to the original Final Fantasy XIII for this very reason. But in today’s industry, in which no company is safe from financial troubles (just ask THQ, who filed for bankruptcy
last month), is it a necessity for Square to adapt the Final Fantasy series to fit with the times? After all, despite Final Fantasy XIII-2’s sales being much lower than that of XIII’s, the game still gave Square a nice financial boost
in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
Image taken from FFDream
To their credit, however, Square has acknowledged fan’s concerns on the implementation of DLC in Final Fantasy XIII-2 to an extent. As Jesus previously reported
, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’s producer, Yoshinori Kitase, has stated that the game’s main scenario will be concluded on the disc – this is opposed to Final Fantasy XIII-2’s main scenario which only concluded after players purchased additional scenario DLC. Still, it’s hard to imagine that Lightning Returns will be a game devoid of DLC, especially after the financial success of Final Fantasy XIII-2. There are already murmurs of Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud’s costume being considered for DLC (as shown in the image above); the nature of the game’s focus on costume-changes seems like a perfect way for Square to make an extra buck or two by charging for this sort of content, but at least the company seems to be aware of fans’ concerns on the subject.
The same cannot be said for non-main series Final Fantasy games. Square Enix just released a new iOS title called Final Fantasy: All the Bravest which seems to have been designed solely for the purpose of milking as much money from consumers via DLC as possible while providing an almost non-existent gameplay experience. Want proof? Just watch the video Jesus posted
All of this leaves us, the fans, in an awkward situation: we know that Square wants to take advantage of the financial benefits of DLC, but how far are they willing to go? How much will it affect the quality of the series that we have come to know and love? It seems that only time will tell, but until then feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the forum discussion.