Forspoken had a difficult birth into the world. From its earliest trailers, the game was misunderstood and maligned, with particular criticism placed on its ‘cringe’ dialogue, and protagonist Frey Holland’s abrasive personality. During a February 2023 financial earnings call, publisher Square Enix has spoken out about this discourse, and how it contributed to overall ‘lacklustre’ sales for the ambitious action-adventure game.
‘Reviews of Forspoken, which we released on January 24, 2023, have been challenging,’ Yosuke Matsuda said, per newly-published English translation. ‘However, the game has also received positive feedback on its action features, including its parkour and combat capabilities, so it has yielded results that will lead to improvement of our development capabilities of other games in the future.’
‘That said, its sales have been lacklustre, and while the performance of new titles with February and March release dates will be the ultimate determinant, we see considerable downside risk to our FY2023/3 earnings.’
With many launch reviews calling the game ‘repetitive’ and ‘bland’, interesting in the title quickly waned. The reality is the landscape of modern gaming is extremely competitive, and with new generation titles typically priced in the region of AU $100, buyers are becoming more discerning. Overall negative sentiment towards Forspoken, driven by online conversations, seemingly turned away a significant portion of its potential audience, contributing to its disappointing sales.
Read: Forspoken review – Take a leap of faith
Following the release of the game, Square Enix announced developer Luminous Productions would be absorbed back into its parent company. While Forspoken was not cited as the exact reason for this change, it likely contributed to the merger, as Square Enix looked to recoup development costs.
Going forward, Luminous Productions will continue to address various bugs and complaints about the performance of Forspoken, before turning its attention to the game’s first major DLC, In Tanta We Trust.
Given the language around the game, it appears Square Enix will move on once this DLC launches, and refocus on its upcoming slate of blockbusters – which currently includes Final Fantasy 16, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, and Kingdom Hearts 4.
‘Our pipeline for FY2024/3 and beyond is extremely strong, including some titles that we have yet to announce,’ Matsuda said, to conclude the latest Square Enix earnings call. ‘FY2024/3 is the final year of our current medium-term plan, and to end the plan on the best possible note, we are steadily putting into place a structure that will enable further growth.’
Matsuda promised exciting new developments in future, as Square Enix looks to right the ship after rocky performance in the last financial year.