Square Enix is doing something very interesting. Many are aware of the demo for the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy XV that was bundled with Final Fantasy Type-0. Many are also probably aware of the amount of issues with the demo.
So Square has decided to update the demo. They’re listening to the players, and they’re actually patching a demo to gauge response. Ubisoft, you and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate should be paying very close attention to this.
If this seems a little over the top, remember that FFXV has been in the works for a very long time. Maybe not as long as Duke Nukem Forever (yet), but it’s been awhile since its initial reveal as Final Fantasy XIII Versus. And when games take a long time between announcement and release, the expectation that the final product be top-notch rises.
Well, it should. Square Enix has had quite a long time with the game while they released the FFXIII trilogy to a very varied and not-always-positive critical reception. Seeing them take the time to release a demo and then listen to the criticisms from fans is extremely heartening.
Players complained about many aspects of the camera. They noted the graphical glitches, the lock-on function, the lack of a minimap, and many other “problems.” And what did Square do? Their marketing manager Akio Ofuji and the game’s director Hajime Tabata sat down and talked about the demo’s current state for almost an hour and a half.
Whoa. If that doesn’t show that a company is very, very, very interested in fans’ opinions, it’s hard to say what does.
For Final Fantasy XV fans, this is encouraging to the max. Square Enix looks like it’s well on its way to learning the lessons (both good and bad) from Final Fantasy XIII and Bravely Default.
Other publishers and developers, take notes: this is the example you want to follow. Since Ubisoft is coming off a particularly sore release and heading for what will hopefully be its redemption, look to them and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Will they follow suit? Will they, perhaps, show players a little love and give them a taste of Syndicate before asking them to shell out their hard-earned cash?
The benefit of demos is moot at this point. Early Access has its issues as it essentially crowdsources a game’s development at the expense of the players. Pre-order bonuses are harsh because they force players to commit to a purchase, and alienates them if the game turns out to be less than exceptional.
And it should also be stated that Square Enix thoroughly dropped the ball on Final Fantasy XV in making the demo available only to those who ordered the “day one” run of Final Fantasy Type-0. Bad, Square Enix, bad. But the attention they’re giving and the care taken in addressing those concerns is worthy of merit.
Therefore, Ubisoft, this is your big chance. This is your opportunity to show that you’re still a company who cares about its fans – and a chance to one-up Square Enix to boot. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate looks like it is going to be absolutely amazing. Many are itching to try it out based on what little gameplay footage has been revealed.
Give the players a free demo to cut their teeth on. Use it to gauge their reaction. Don’t make them pay for it, and don’t lock it behind a pre-order wall. Just let the fans have some fun with your next title. Because after Unity, Assassin’s Creed needs to apply some TLC to its PR.
This is a big chance for you, Ubisoft. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate looks absolutely smashing – but so did Unity.
Otherwise, you’ll end up like EA, who would be glad for the competition in the “worst gaming company in the world” competition.