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The Top (Bottom?) 5 Falls from Grace in the 7th Generation

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 07/27/14 at 03:35 PM CT

Some game makers never really amount to anything. Some game makers start small, rising to greatness and glory upon the back of an extremely well-crafted game (or series of games). Some game makers start out big and evil and simply stay the course, raking in huge profits while lighting cigars with $1,000 bills. Then there are the game makers that, through every fault of their own, take a glowing reputation and completely flush it down the toilet, never to recover. The 7th Generation saw a lot of not-so-great things happen in the videogame industry, including huge numbers of bankruptcies and shuttered studios. The following five companies may not have crashed and burned, but they are desperately close to the ground, dragging their reputations behind them.

5. Re-Logic
Starting life essentially as a pirate developer, Re-Logic gave us the definitive (and unlicensed) ‘Super Mario Bros.’ experience with “Super Mario Bros. X.” After receiving takedown requests from Nintendo, Re-Logic moved onto an original creation… by copying “Minecraft” in 2D instead of 3D. The resultant game, “Terraria,” is a large pile of broken promises. Between the lead developer not being able to decide whether or not he is going to actively keep working on the game and the significant number of former employees who left the fledgling Indie developer for ‘unknown’ reasons, Re-Logic stands shamefully as proof that developers don’t necessarily have to be big to make big mistakes.

4. Namco
Namco, which merged in 2006 with purveyor of action figures based on horrible live-action and animated Japanese kids’ shows (like “Power Rangers” and “Dragonball Z”), Bandai, used to be well-respected among gamers. Namco gave us “Pac-Man,” for goodness sake! Later respectable Namco contributions included the excellent fighting franchises, ‘SoulCalibur’ and ‘Tekken,’ racing franchise ‘Ridge Racer,’ and the greatest light gun series ever conceived, ‘Point Blank.’ But what has Namco given us since it became Namco-Bandai? Well, we’ve gotten a lot of terrible licensed games based on inexplicably popular anime/manga like “Naruto” and “One Piece.” Then there’s the RPG situation, with Namco-Bandai pumping out a steady stream of cheesy, moe-filled entries in the ‘Tales of’ series instead of even trying to do better. Of course, the final blow to Namco’s once-firm foundation has been the horrific treatment of the ‘SoulCalibur’ franchise over the last few years. Not only were “SoulCalibur 4,” “SoulCalibur 5,” and “SoulCalibur Legends” completely uninspired cash grabs with next to no new (good) content, the most recent entry, “SoulCalibur: Lost Swords” is blatantly Pay to Win and is an example of the worst way a company can drag one of its best IPs through the mud in order to make a bit of money.

3. Capcom
What really needs to be said about Capcom? In the days of the NES and SNES, Capcom was THE source for licensed games based on Disney cartoons that somehow managed to not only NOT SUCK, but were actually solid, fun games in their own right. Capcom also gave us a large variety of enduring franchises in disparate genres that helped, in many cases, to define their genres, like ‘Mega Man,’ ‘Street Fighter,’ and ‘Resident Evil.’ But Capcom has always had a thing for repetition and earned a reputation early on for re-releasing the same game multiple times with minor updates, but still charging full-price. With this kind of ugly business practice becoming the norm in the 7th Generation, Capcom decided to come out of the closet and not even bother hiding its evil side. Thus gamers were shackled with more of the same from Capcom, but with the addition of on-disc DLC that was clearly finished and ready to be included in the final game at release, but was broken-off purposefully so as to be sold piecemeal to gamers who thought they were getting a complete product. Between the dead-horse beating of their constant remakes and rehashes and their DLC practices, Capcom has lost more respect over the course of one hardware generation than most companies earn over their entire existence.

2. Square Enix
Alas, poor Square and Enix. These star-crossed lovers of the RPG nobility decided to marry and combine their wealth. Presumably, someone had the altruistic idea that such a merger would result in more, better RPGs for the legions of fans to enjoy. Unfortunately, something went horribly wrong, and the merged Square Enix managed to not only lose the RPG crown, but allowed said crown to be trampled into the filthy, muck-covered streets by the usurpers, Gust, NIS, and Compile Heart. While Square Enix sat on its hands and did nothing – or, even worse, worried about buying Western publisher, Eidos, and focusing on genres outside its wheelhouse – the world lost all respect for RPGs made in Japan, even going so far as segregating them into their own fake sub-genre and adding a “J” as a type of Scarlett Letter when talking about them. When Square Enix did deign to produce any RPGs in the 7th Generation, they decided to focus entirely on “Final Fantasy 13.” This was a game that was universally hated by Square Enix fans and non-Square Enix fans alike… yet instead of admitting that they made a bad game, Square Enix double-down… then tripled-down and produced “Final Fantasy 13-2” and “Final Fantasy 13-3: Lightning Returns,” as if shoving these horrible concepts down our throats would make us appreciate them. Not even the Enix side of the Square Enix duality was able to redeem the company, as ‘Dragon Quest’ was mostly ignored outside of some mediocre handheld releases and a grand vision to turn “Dragon Quest 10” into a subscription-based MMORPG. Square Enix stands as an example of what happens when a company ignores its established fanbase in order to pursue the new hotness.

1. Trendy Entertainment
Trendy is an Indie game developer that didn’t even exist until midway through the 7th Generation. They made a significant splash with their first game, “Dungeon Defenders,” which took the novel route of blending the nascent Tower Defense genre with direct player interaction in a manner resembling popular Hack ‘n Slash RPGs like the ‘Diablo’ series. Yet Trendy will soon be demonstrating one of the most basic laws of gravity: “What goes up must come down.” Not only did Trendy manage to completely screw-up their game via unbalanced, untested DLC, but they refused to fix the largest, long-term errors and problems that the majority of players complained about, instead preferring to focus all of their attention on ‘fixing’ things that the elite 1% of players complained about, further alienating newcomers and those who weren’t ‘hardcore enough.’ Last year, Trendy announced that they were beginning work on “Dungeon Defenders 2,” and that the game would be transformed from a Tower Defense/Hack ‘n Slash into a PvP-centric MOBA (multi-player online battle arena). The backlash was so fierce that Trendy was forced to change course and start reworking “Dungeon Defenders 2” to be more like the original, while maintaining the new Free to Play with Microtransactions model. Yet “Dungeon Defenders 2” is still vaporware… instead we have recently been ‘graced’ with “Dungeon Defenders Eternity,” a repackaging of the original game, based upon the mobile app version, but with always-online DRM and a tin-foil-hat level of paranoia about ‘hacking’ that borders on lunacy. Sure, “Eternity” supposedly rebalances the completely broken DLC and endgame of “Dungeon Defenders,” but without the ability to retain our character saves from the vanilla version of the game OR play offline, I can’t see anyone but that same elite 1% that Trendy always catered to caring about this rehash. It looks like the company is about to reap what it sowed. “Dungeon Defenders Eternity” is worse than Capcom’s typical level of money grabbing and has completely destroyed any good reputation Trendy might have had left… that is if the horrific work environment and dictatorial attitude of the CEO didn’t do that already.

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View Jonzor's Profile


Wrote on08/03/14 at 05:12 PM CT

It serves no purpose... other than to explain a genre to people. That's like saying the "turn-based" in turn-based strategy serves no purpose just because it doesn't mean something "bad".

If I'm giving the general public too much credit, YOU'RE giving them too much sway over your own opinion. People on message boards don't understand the Sword of Damocles fable either, but rather than say it's a stupid tale I'm just going to realize people being idiots doesn't change the reality of a situation. Just because the J is being misused by morons on the internet doesn't mean anything to ME, I don't know why it does to you.

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View Nelson Schneider's Profile

Nelson Schneider

Wrote on08/03/14 at 01:28 PM CT

I think you're giving the general public too much credit, there, Jonzor.

If the J isn't there to segregate something "icky" and keep it separated, it really serves no purpose, and should fall out of favor. Yet it staunchly remains.

Hopefully "Bravely Default" is a first step on the path leading in the right direction. And hopefully Square Enix chooses to stay on the right path for the rest of the 8th Generation instead of backsliding.

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Wrote on07/27/14 at 04:06 PM CT

The J as a Scarlet Letter is a figment of your imagination. The reason you choose to view it as a pejorative is because of the complete lack of good JRPGs over the last decade. When stuff like Bravely Default comes out and people call it a good JRPG, it's not as a backhanded compliment. They're not surprised that a JRPG can be good, they're just surprised someone finally remembered what was great about them long enough to actually make one.

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