It appears that all isn't well over at Yoshi-P's house.
Naoki Yoshida, the head of Square Enix Creative Business Unit III, the same person who helped revive Final Fantasy XIV, took over as the lead developer of Final Fantasy 16, and he's since made a ton of promises about the game's performance. But, while FF16 is said to be capable of unleashing the true potential of the PlayStation 5, its pre-order numbers are sounding alarm bells over at Square Enix.
Imran Khan, a respected journalist, highlighted that the pre-orders for FF16 are "tracking behind" FF16 despite adjusting the numbers to account for FF16's PS5 exclusivity.
This is apparently sending ripples of panic through Square Enix's ranks, as pre-launch sales expectations are falling short.
FF16 is by no means predicted to flop, but pre-orders are a valuable indicator of the expected interest in the game. More importantly, it helps offset the absurd costs of AAA game development this decade. Because of this, companies incentivize pre-orders with various perks, aiming to secure a hefty amount of revenue before a game's official launch. However, given the current global economic state, consumer spending habits are also changing.
With the cost of living rising worldwide and wages failing to keep pace, discretionary spending on items like video games may take a hit. Not to mention, 2023 hasn't been kind to video games.
While Square Enix is confident in FF16, it can't control how the market responds to other factors.
Square Enix has faced criticism for its approach to exclusivity, with some gamers voicing frustration at the company and its penchant for holding games hostage way until the hype diminishes. Others point that catering to a more global audience rather than the core fanbase has alienated the latter. The constant comparisons to Western properties like Game of Thrones may not have generated as much excitement as Square Enix hoped among the series' longtime fans.
Still, the development team has put significant effort into FF16, altering combat mechanics to appeal to a wider audience. FF16 feels like a make-or-break moment for Square Enix.
In an alternate reality where Square Enix is releasing a PC port on the same day as the PS5 version, the company will likely just double the expectations, possibly setting them up for another round of disappointment if they fail to meet those lofty goals.
It's hard to find an example of Square Enix feeling satisfied with the sales performances of its games. Everything from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Outriders, Forspoken, Marvel's Avengers, and so much more, have, one way or another, "disappointed", Square Enix.
As June 22 approaches, only time will tell if this Final Fantasy installment will deliver the hit that Square Enix is hoping for.