Let's Go Play Online (And Screw Everything Else)

by Louis Bedigian 

Submitted by: (Louis Bedigian)
Spelling 2
Grammar 2
Coherency 3
Strength of Arguments 2.5
Presentation 3.5
Originality 1.5
Penalties 0
Total 14.5

There seems to be an abundance of ignorance in developers these days. Sega, Square, Enix and LucasArts, among others, are jumping on the multiplayer, online bandwagon. But for what purpose are they doing this? I don't remember Sega asking me if I'd prefer a cooperative online role-playing game or the long awaited Phantasy Star V.

Despite record-breaking titles like Dragon Quest VII outselling EverQuest and every other online RPG ever made, Square and Enix are adamant about going online. After Final Fantasy X, every Final Fantasy released will be online-only.

Online-only RPGs usually means that you must subscribe to a service just to play it, on top of the $50 price tag. Assuming Final Fantasy XI sells six million copies worldwide and that each of its buyers subscribe to Square's online service (which is said to cost $9.99 a month), they'll make more than $700,000,000 a year on PlayOnline subscription fees alone. Obviously Square wants to get in on that pot of gold before it's gone.

That's not what's eating away at me though, it's the loss of my favorite aspect in an RPG -- the story.

As Square struggles to come up with something new and unique to entertain us with each year, they've found that it would be a whole lot easier to scrap the story and concentrate on more of the same.

As much as I've enjoyed the Final Fantasy games as a whole, battling was the last thing I looked forward to experiencing more of. After Final Fantasy VII, I wanted more. Not more battles, but a new quest that involved more exploring and expanded upon its excellent story.

And yet, what will Final Fantasy XI be centered around? Multiplayer battling.

Although it could be said that Final Fantasy XI's story is being kept a secret, there was no mention of this during the game's unveiling. Instead, Square touted its online capabilities and nothing else.

What about Enix? Instead of moving forward with Dragon Quest VIII, they've decided to follow the trend started by Sega and release an online Dragon Quest before the year's end.

As curious as I am about these upcoming titles, what I know about them thus far is that they're completely different from the RPGs I grew up with. The solitary, story-driven RPGs that made us laugh, scream, yell and cry may soon be no more than a memory.

I am not the reclusive type, but it always felt good to grab a Coke, shut my bedroom door and immerse myself for the next ten hours in a game that was all for me, just me. It was solely my experience, one that allowed me to escape reality and enjoy a fantasy world where my troubles don't exist -- all by myself.

I can only hope that five years from now, those days still exist. Don't you?

This rather touched upon topic, getting only more prevalent as we approach the release of Phantasy Star Online and Final Fantasy XI, is a fairly touchy topic for more RPG players, and it could have been covered rather better in this editorial - the side for online RPGs was left out, which leaves the editorial very one sided, not even considering the good points of online RPGs. Another point that could have been made is that the majority of online games will have a valid and viable single player RPG within.

The writing throughout is good, although the short paragraphs make reading a little difficult from time to time. It's imagery - especially the ever-so-familiar shutting yourself in a bedroom or other recluse - is nicely used, and the editorial's hypothetical questions are a nice touch to leave you wondering that bit longer.

Overall, this editorial definitely needed to portray the other side of the debate, but the side that was presented was presented nicely with some valid points.

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