Dear Square-Enix: what the hell is wrong with you?

[UPDATE: The always-on DRM in Lightning Returns has been stripped out. There’s apparently still a requirement that cloud saves be on, which is weird, but from what I’ve been able to tell from reading users’ stories on the Steam forums, saves stay offline if you don’t sync to the servers. To be honest, this whole thing has rubbed me the wrong way and done a ton of damage to my opinion of Square-Enix, but at least they finally realized how stupid their original decision was.]

Dear Square-Enix,

I only rarely plan out the games that I’m going to play ahead of time, but I had a good chunk of December mapped out in a way that made me genuinely happy. I just finished playing through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 for the first time in what must be a decade to get in a Star Wars mood before the new movie comes out, and I figured the cherry on top would be following that up with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which we all know is the third game in your XIII trilogy. Given the fact that my PS3’s disc drive is broken and I’ve no real motivation to find out how to fix it, I was content to wait until it saw a PC release. There were many frustrating delays, of course, but I was happy to wait if it meant the PC version was released in a better state than the first two games. Now, it’s no secret that I loathed the first two games for various reasons, but I’m already invested in the series and I’ve heard that the third game is the best one. Who knows? Maybe I’d even end up liking it. Crazier things have happened, and it is the season of magic and rampant commercialism. We both stood to gain. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that Lightning Returns uses always-online DRM. You do remember that this is a single-player game, correct? I don’t know if this DRM is intentional or just the result of someone whose job revolves around cloud saves failing spectacularly, but I have to be completely honest—neither possibility is inspiring a great deal of confidence in you. Pirates are already playing the game (with offline saves, it should be added), so any argument for this DRM revolving around piracy is already dead in the water. I have to ask: what the hell is wrong with you, Square-Enix?

We used to be such good friends. I would drool over screenshots of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 in Nintendo Power, and I still have the cartridges for both those games, along with many others you were responsible for. Illusion of Gaia? Enix published that one, and I still have it. That’s not even getting into the PS1 era, because I still cherish my copies of Chrono Cross, the PS1 Final Fantasy games, and many others. The Square logo used to be a mark of quality you could count on, and our relationship was a mutually beneficial one. I’d give you money, and you’d give me something good in return for that money. It was a simple arrangement, no hoops to jump through for either of us, and it worked for both of us for years.

And now you’re ruining my Christmases with always-on DRM, turning the Final Fantasy 7 remake into something episodic for no understandable reason, and otherwise aspiring to be as terrible as a company can possibly be. I can’t support this. I just can’t. I’d have liked to play through Lightning Returns as per my original plan, but I’ll wait until you fix the DRM problem. Until then, you’ll get none of my money, and DRM (always a point of gamer rage) will be the very first thing I mention whenever you come up in conversation. I know you have a habit of not fixing things otherwise. Did you ever even fix the terrible midi music in your Final Fantasy 8 Steam re-release? I don’t care to reinstall to find out for myself, but the forums there certainly seem to suggest you haven’t. It took a huge backlash to push you to fix the very same problem in Final Fantasy 7, too. You’re clearly putting no work into this relationship, and if you insist on treating your fans like wallets that exist solely to be squeezed dry, then you’ll soon find yourself very lonely.

Sincerely-and-not-love,

-KP

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