5 biggest Square Enix PR disasters over the past two years

The Japanese publisher has seen more than a handful of embarrassments so far (Images via Square Enix)
The Japanese publisher has seen more than a handful of embarrassments so far (Images via Square Enix)

Square Enix is the renowned force behind acclaimed franchises like Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Dragon Quest, and Deus Ex. With so many big names under their belt, it's easy to see why they're one of the biggest names in the industry.

However, Square Enix has been less than ideal for the past two years. They've had their fair share of downs and controversies, and it's even more apparent with recent events. Here's a look back at the five worst instances of backlash for one reason or another.

Square Enix seems to be hanging between a rock and a hard place

5) Babylon's Fall - Ignored and forgotten


It seems like the live service genre of games is cursed for failure. Square Enix's latest such title, Babylon's Fall, continues that streak of disappointing entries. Platinum Games of Bayonetta fame made this one, so it's surprising to see a negative response across the internet. Then again, looking at the myriad of issues, it starts to make sense why.

For starters, the blurry visual style hinders gameplay - which isn't good, to begin with. Babylon's Fall is plagued with repetitive dungeons, bland combat, a poorly written story, and unbalanced mechanics.

To make matters worse, the online-only, full-priced game seems to be big on penny-pinching the player, with battle-passes, microtransactions, and the like.

As of now, only a handful of people are playing Square Enix's looter RPG, with an average of 100 active gamers on Steam. This number can be expected to shrink further as the existing players move on to something better.

All the hype that followed the game before its release has evaporated into thin air. Although it seems like they want to improve the experience for players via feedback, is it worth it at this point?

4) Balan Wonderworld - Baffling on all levels


Developed by key members of the Sonic team (behind Sega's iconic blue hedgehog), fans had some hope that last year's 3D platformer would breathe new life into the genre. Of course, for many others, the development team was also a foreshadowing of what was to come, as the Sonic devs have never really found their footing when it comes to making great games.

Square Enix's Balan Wonderworld ended up proving the latter right, as it turned out to be a poorly designed game. Shallow game design, one-button controls, useless power-ups, and technical issues were its primary flaws.

The Fox Box costume is an easy demonstration of how bafflingly bad the design is; it turns the player into an invincible box - however, this effect occurs at random. An obvious hindrance during gameplay.

The final boss allegedly caused epileptic seizures in some gamers, and the game had no such warnings either - thankfully, it seems to be patched now. Regardless, all of its issues have resulted in one of the worst-reviewed games of the past decade, sitting at a stomach-churning 38 on Metacritic. A shame for such a promising new IP from Square Enix.

3) NFT controversy

Earlier this year, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda shared his stance on NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). The company has expressed an interest in incorporating the highly-controversial crypto-based format. What infuriated people the most was the following line from Matsuda, acknowledging the player's disdain towards NFTs in-game:

"I realize that some people who 'play to have fun' and who currently form the majority of players have voiced their reservations toward these new trends, and understandably so. However, I believe that there will be a certain number of people whose motivation is to ‘play to contribute,’ by which I mean to help make the game more exciting. Traditional gaming has offered no explicit incentive to this latter group of people, who were motivated strictly by such inconsistent personal feelings as goodwill and volunteer spirit."

In other words, it's a non-answer and not a good outlook for the company by any means, and this has fans worried about Square Enix's future projects.

2) Chocobo GP - Crashing and burning


The latest in Square Enix's unfortunate (mis)adventures is Chocobo GP, released exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on March 10, 2022. It is a brand new arcade racer based on the Final Fantasy IP, playing along the lines of games like Mario Kart.

Fans were incredibly eager to pick up what looked to be another great addition to the Switch's growing game library, but the launch day was met with nothing but hype.

Chocobo GP was outed to be filled with predatory consumer practices, like monetization in the paid version or the ability for unused premium currency (purchased with real money) to expire after a few months. Square Enix tried damage control with a follow-up response, but it doesn't look like the fire will be dying out anytime soon.

1) Marvel's Avengers - Stroke of bad luck


Where to even begin with this one? From the backlash over Spider-Man's PS4 exclusivity to the frustration over monetization, Marvel's Avengers takes the cake amongst all. Developed by Crystal Dynamics and released for PC, PS4, and XB1 in 2020, Marvel's Avengers was one of that year's most anticipated games.

Keeping the outcry over the character models aside, the gameplay was deemed repetitive, buggy, and boring. Sony's contract with Square Enix keeping the playable Spider-Man character exclusive to the PS4/PS5 raised some eyebrows too. Post-launch, problems escalated further.

The player count pummelled like a rock in a pond due to lack of content, and the balancing issues were problematic, especially for the multiplayer. Then in 2021, Square Enix introduced XP boosters in the game's marketplace, which increased the amount of experience gained for a short time. This drew ire from both gamers and outlets, as they had promised that microtransactions would only be geared towards cosmetics.

Fans also realized that this came around the time the game was opened up to Xbox Game Pass players and nerfs to experience gains. Avengers was just the start of their issues, and since then, the Japanese company hasn't really been in fans' good graces.

Note: The article reflects the writer's own views.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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