When it comes to the title holder for shooting down anything interesting made by fans that in any way involves their IP, Square Enix probably takes the trophy. The company that insists that DRM is forever also insists that fan-made games, films, and even weapon replicas shall not exist. Part of the reason Square Enix is found doing this is that it has created and/or owned some truly beloved franchises in the video game medium, including the Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy franchises. The fans of these properties are exceptionally devoted and passionate to and about them, which naturally leads to the wish to expand the universes even further through their own creation. That Square Enix wields a level 99 copyright hammer at all of these efforts is an unfortunate slap in the face to some of its biggest fans and best customers. It's a crappy situation all around.
But it's when the company does this kind of bullying with the timing of a CIA extraordinary rendition agent that we have to wonder if Square Enix is run by masochists. The latest example of this concerns Final Fantasy Type-O, an RPG released for the PSP, a handheld console barely holding on to any relevance in the industry. See, the game came out three years ago, in 2011, but only in Japan and with no English-language version having ever been released. A group of Final Fantasy fans, spearheaded by someone going by the handle SkyBladeCloud, began working on an English translation. That was over two years ago. The proposed patch and its development amassed a decent following.
If Square Enix wasn't going to release the game in English, well, hey, at least we could all still play it. Over the next two years, Square stayed silent about the fate of Type-0 in the west. Though Square's executives would occasionally drop vague hints about the game in interviews, there was no concrete news, and the few times I did ask Square about the game, they sent over non-answers like "we have nothing to announce at this time." Meanwhile, the fan translation team kept plugging away, and at the time, project lead SkyBladeCloud said he wasn't concerned about legal repercussions.
"I'm not worried since I live in Spain and different laws apply," Sky told me in an e-mail earlier this year.
Fast forward to mid-2014 when this entire thing turns into the kind of shit-show that leaves everyone looking dirty. In March of this year, the translators announced the patch would be ready in August. Despite the fact that the project had received a decent amount of attention, it was only then that Square Enix's lawyers reached out to SkyBladeCloud
and informed him that their efforts would be fought by the company. They also made some mention of finding some common ground that would keep everyone happy and on the level, though Square Enix has in the past been known to be a turncoat when it comes to those kinds of efforts
. Still, non-disclosure agreements were signed and talks went on. People contributing to the translation project discussed internally not
releasing their patch if Square Enix actually announced an English release of Type-O
, the theorized reason for their lawyers finally reaching out. All of that discussion ceased, however, when SkyBladeCloud
suddenly announced the patch would release in early June instead, despite it being incomplete and not ready for prime-time. It was downloaded roughly 100,000 times. Two days later, Square Enix dropped the other shoe.
On Tuesday, June 10, Square dropped a bombshell of their own: Type-0 would be coming west, not for handheld systems but as a high-definition remake for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. (A consequent Vita announcement flub left a bad taste in some fans' mouths, and led many of them back toward the fan translation patch.)
Despite denials from SkyBladeCloud
, pretty much everyone who knows this story is speculating that he knew the Square Enix announcement was coming and released the patch early out of spite, given a speculated ugly turn of tenor in talks with Square Enix and its lawyers. The timing certainly fits like a jigsaw puzzle piece. As does the sudden legal flurry set forth by Square Enix's lawyers which, despite SkyBladeCloud's
earlier theory, caused him to take down the patch and all related online content referring to it. In its place he put up an announcement:
Unfortunately I'm forced to remove my posts and pages related to the popular Final Fantasy Type-0 fan translation project. That's right, certain game company thinks that threats and false accusations are the way to treat its biggest fans. For the time being I can't answer questions related to this matter, but I'll write a more comprehensive post about all this once I get the chance. I hope you understand, and as always I appreciate your support (that I might need more that ever in the near future). Thank you very much:
antics might be shady, and they certainly fractured his translation team in a serious way, he isn't wrong: this is all unnecessary
. The simple fact is that Square Enix now clearly has no intention of releasing an English version of a 3-plus year old game on the console for which the team was translating. Sure, they're releasing it on some of the newer consoles, but many PSP owners may not have those consoles. The end result is going to be a whole lot of Final Fantasy
fans being unable to play the game at all, simply because Square Enix decided to use its copyright hammer.
That certainly won't win Square Enix any fans, even if some of the folks doing the translation handled themselves poorly.