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  • Alexander Dimmick

    Alexander Dimmick

    Office Manager

    Office Manager at btrax. Recently moved to San Francisco from Cleveland, Ohio. Passion for foreign languages, cross-culture experiences, travel, and trying new foods. Fluent in Japanese, with a Master’s degree in International Relations and a Bachelor's in music from Kent State, where I played the bassoon in chamber ensembles and orchestra.

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  • Sep 20, 2013

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Re-branding a Failed Video Game to Success

Unlike its original version, the recent re-release of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn by Square Enix is a complete hit. The pre-release sales and free trial periods attracted enough gamers to overload the servers and shut down the game temporarily. Even more surprising, nearly four times as many copies were sold in North America than Japan. What caused this unexpected influx of consumers to be attracted to this Japanese-made video game? Is the re-release truly noteworthy or did the company re-think its marketing tactics?

A new tale begins…

It was 2010. I had just started graduate school and I’m sad to say the most exciting part of the year for me was the release of a new massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) called Final Fantasy XIV. For those of you who are familiar with the Final Fantasy titles, you know that they are produced by the Japanese media company Square Enix, but are enjoyed around the globe in almost every continent.

The original version of the game however, was a colossal failure and struggled to even attract a large audience in Japan. The game itself, had an endless list of flaws in the content, user-interface design, and game schematics, but it wasn’t until the re-release earlier this month that I realized the original version seriously lacked proper localization, globalization, and a modern marketing strategy.

What I found strange is that it appeared Square Enix had not allotted any budget for advertising. Very few of my friends other than die-hard Final Fantasy fans knew that the game was being released, and it was nowhere to be found on Facebook, Twitter, or even on the “ancient” marketing outlet of television.

Compared to other popular online games such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Rift, etc… Final Fantasy remained prey to the limitations of underground, word-of-mouth publicity. Customer dissatisfaction with the product was compounded with the inability to reach a wide audience, and the game was officially determined as a failure in late 2012.

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Re-branding a Realm

Since Square Enix had announced plans to re-create and re-release the game in the last quarter of 2012, I have been actively participating in the alpha and beta tests of the game. I personally have watched the game change and develop in to the polished, entertaining, and visually stunning game that it is today. Another change I was witness to, was Squre Enix’s shocking change of heart in advertising outlets, and extra features added to the “Final Fantasy” experience.

Nearly every time I log on to Facebook to check my newsfeed, I see an update from the Facebook fan page, or a paid ad about the pre-release sales or the start of the official release. FFXIV:ARR has even added its own twitter and YouTube accounts in four different languages (French, German, English, and Japanese) in order to increase the global and local awareness of their products and services.

Square Enix also developed and branded their own blog, web forum, mobile device encyclopedia app, security token software app, user account management system, and finally re-designed the layout of their main webpage.

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After the release, Square Enix began to even run a television ad frequently on prime-time cable channels. All of these outlets not only improved the awareness of the brand “FFXIV:ARR” but also made the game more accessible and user-friendly for its participants. Square Enix utilized social media that is popular in North America, Europe, and Japan in order to maximize the audience for their refurbished product. On the whole, it was a success.

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Escape Reality; Live the Fantasy

Companies looking to expand into foreign markets should take note from Square Enix overcoming their past failure and turning it into a success. Not only did they rethink their product, they revamped the way they presented it to consumers.

It could be speculated that the quality of the re-release was so great that Square Enix was able to overcome their past mistakes solely on merit; however, the evident effort made to promote their product through social media, localize their services to be more accommodating to modern technology and culture, redesign their website, and globalize their brand in multiple languages undoubtedly helped them to achieve the growing popularity and attention they are receiving.

As an employee of btrax, Inc. it’s exciting to see companies succeed through cross-cultural marketing services we provide, even if we aren’t the team who worked on the project.

Photos by: EMR

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