When we talk about video game engagement oftentimes it's discussing an MMO or free-to-play title. It's a rare exception if “engagement” comes up for a game that's neither an MMO or an online-based title like Battlefield or Call of Duty. However, Square Enix has revealed that engagement is exceptionally high for Avalanche Studios' Just Cause 2.
GamesIndustry.biz managed to talk extensively with Square Enix's US and Europe CEO, Phil Rogers, about the company moving forward, digital consumption and that dreaded phrase of “games as a service”.
Thankfully, Rogers understands that the gaming community hates the term “games as a service” and recognizes that gamers prefer good games with great content and memorable moments. In fact, he uses Just Cause 2 as a prime example of a title that has exceeded the estimates of engagement, and want to make more games with such long-term user-stability...
"We've got to look at how people are actually playing our games - it totally amazes me that with Just Cause 2, which is over three years old now, we still have half a million active, unique players each month.
I didn't quite get the same level of replay out of Just Cause 2 that I did from games like Saints Row, GTA IV and Sleeping Dogs (but that's mostly because of the fighting system in Sleeping Dogs and the mods in the other two games). Still, the modders who managed to design the Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod have reinvigorated the game and I do wonder how much that plays into bringing in new and unique users to the game each month?
The open-world title was noted for its unbridled approach to complete chaos and destruction, with Avalanche Studios focusing more on setting up players with the proper tools to wreck all sorts of creative and unique havoc in the game world, with very little restrictions on how the game could be played.
Supposedly, Avalanche is already prepping Just Cause 3 and 4 but they won't be arriving until after they ship the 2014 Mad Max title for next-gen consoles and PC. I wonder if the title will get the same sort of magical user-engagement treatment as the three-year-old Just Cause 2 or if modders will be able to breathe some additional life into it with a multiplayer mod?
Anyway, I'm curious to see how Square adapts to the data. For now, they seem to be all-in on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn with more than half-a-million subscribers, and majority of the response from the gaming community has been positive.
Focusing on making games with great content could pay off for the company in the long run, but they're definitely going to need to bring a half to the Final Fantasy XIII series.