Sometimes, Your Content Writing Will Fail: Lessons from Square Enix and the Ongoing Trials of Final Fantasy

By: David Tile | Founder @
Posted On: March 20, 2014

It’s safe to say that video games have come a long way. So has content SEO. But for every success there’s failure. Failure is just something that happens with any kind of content, even if it’s a property that’s popular. Just look at Final Fantasy.

It Was Supposed to be Final

One of the key things talked about when it comes to content writing is telling a good story. Helen Nesterenko of Writtent points out that your favorite things, “use the art of storytelling to bypass your logical mind and put their message straight in your heart. Whether you laughed, cried, hated the product or rushed out to buy it, the stories stuck in your mind and kept you coming back for more.” Let’s look at that in terms of Final Fantasy, which started with a great story. Back in the 80s, the game’s creator, Hironubu Sakaguchi, thought that the game would be his last. He decided to make it an epic fantasy and go out with a bang. While the first game, according to IGN, wasn’t enough to build the Final Fantasy empire, it was enough to pull Square – the game’s company – out of its financial crisis. It would take three more years for it to come to the U.S., but when it did, it was a remarkable success. This created a loyal fanbase that is still going strong .

Well… sort of.

When Marketing Giants Fall from Grace

Gamers may argue which game in the franchise was the one that started to reveal Square Enix’s (formally Square) flaws, but we’re going to focus on the newest entries: Final Fantasy XIII. After two sequels, the consensus agrees that they are hitting the same dull note. Mike Fahey of Kotaku starts his review of Lightning Returns, the third installment to XIII, in a truly disheartening tone: “I’ve never been less emotionally invested in a character than I am in Final Fantasy XIII’s pink-haired powerhouse, so when Square Enix tells me Lightning Returns, my response is ‘That’s great. What else you got?’”

Ouch. What was it that Nesterenko said about good storytelling?

Where Did It all Go Wrong?

Nicole Beckett of Business 2 Community addresses a huge problem that happens with some content writing: forgetting the big picture. “Lots of people blog just to blog. They’ve heard that fresh content is vital to a successful web presence, so they publish something once a day or once a week simply because they’re ‘supposed to.” With this last series of games, it feels like we’re getting them for the sake of getting them. No one asked for a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, not to mention a second sequel, but that’s what we got. The worst part is that during the hype for Final Fantasy XIII, another game was being teased at that fans were hyped for: Final Fantasy XIII Versus. Only, instead of seeing anything for that game, fans have been treated to disappointing sequels they didn’t want.

Two sequels and no hint of a release date for this other game with a new story and new characters? Once again, loyal Square Enix fans are now fed up.

What’s the Final Solution?

While it’s true that you can – and will – make mistakes, there are some things you can do to help you fix your errors. For one, don’t make assumptions about your audience. Square Enix is a pretty reputable video game company, and it’s clear they’ve assumed their fans would stay with them no matter what. Create a loyal audience, yes, but don’t ever take them for granted. Don’t assume they will always be there to support you. You have to support them, too, because it’s a two way street. Also, don’t put content out there that isn’t ready. Don’t put something out just for the sake of putting it out. Put some effort into it and make it your best before sharing it with the world.

Fortunately, Square Enix seems to be learning. Final Fantasy XIII Versus has been turned into its own game series instead of an offshoot of Final Fantasy XIII. Now being called Final Fantasy XV, the game will be a work that stands on its own, making it finally feel like a property that the company cares about. If your audience at least sees that you’re making an effort, they will be more willing to stick with you. So if you make mistakes in your content writing follow Square Enix’s example and learn from them.