03 November 2010

Square Enix does Facebook

Finally Square Enix has joined the Facebook gaming scene and starts by introducing a couple of games: Knights of the Crystals(Final Fantasy in Mafia Wars style) and Chocobo's Crystal Tower
(Chocobo breeder game)

It looks like the sheer amount of profits generated by the less than stellar games on Facebook by companies like Zynga has finally tempted Square to make its move. After the somewhat less than awesome launch of FFXIV, the income would probably help.

My initial impression of Knights of the Crystals is actually quite good. While many of the basic building blocks are pretty much the same as Mafia Wars and its brethrens (jobs, fights, inventory, collections), there are several interesting addtions.
First is the addition of more job classes as you level up(only Fighter and Healer were visible to me at level 6). The boss battle is a turn-based RPG style with the choice of fight, magic and special abilities. It's also important to have friends for this battle, and for those who do not have friends yet, there are default game-generated ones that can be used to help the boss fight.
The game also have narration in place between stages, so hopefully a decent story would unravel as the game progresses.

Knights of The Crystals Boss Fight

I couldn't run Chocobo's Crystal Tower at the time of this writing since it keeps giving out an error message, so I can't give an impression as yet. As it is still in beta, they might have trouble with keeping up with the initial demand. From the description in its FAQ it seems to be a breeding-adventure game. Some screenshots
are available at the official site here.

Chocobo Crystal Tower

The implication of Square's move is quite interesting. If Nintendo decides to join in with something like Animal Crossing, Farmville and Frontierville might finally have a formidable competitor. Then again, that possibility is rather remote. Japan
does have quite a number of social gaming companies, and it even have a social
network site like gree that specialize on games.
If more Japanese companies starts to make games on Facebook, the domination of a mere 2-3 social game companies there might end.

For sure, being an old-school big gaming company doesn't guarantee success in Facebook gaming. The EA acquisition of Playfish, for example, still haven't managed to keep up with Zynga in terms of the number of users. This is despite the truly numerous number of bugs in games like Mafia Wars.
I felt EA's first game on Facebook(after the takeover), EA Fifa Sports Superstars, simply fell way short of its potential. It's a pity, since a Championship Manager game on Facebook done right would be amazing.

The early signs from Square though, is quite promising. If they continue to improve their games, hopefully the overall quality of Facebook games will increase.
I would certainly be worried if I were Zynga.

If you have tried out Knights of the Crystals or Chocobo's Crystal Tower, what's your opinion?
Do you feel Square can improve the overall quality of gaming on Facebook?
What's your favorite game on it?

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