What's the deal?Feature by ZeaLitY, July 25th 2005
The future of the Chrono series is question -- and everyone knows it. While we really desire to have Chrono Break made and blow away our expectations, as its two predecessors did, the decision is ultimately up to SquareEnix and will involve a host of variables (such as market readiness, among other things). We can sit back and hope, or politely write to them and express our feelings, no matter how zealous we are about the series. However, a few self-proclaimed saviors have taken it upon themselves to abuse the corporate feedback form and rabidly pester the company for a futile cause; these fanboys make the rest of the fans look bad by in their various attempts to get attention and plead for a new game. Sometimes it's hard to know when these fanboys are expressing themselves seriously or are just making a scene; whatever the case, their efforts aren't going to help make Chrono Break any sooner than what already may be in store, and may even serve to paint the community the color "idiot!" If you'd like to intelligently petition SE, we can do so, and it will make a slight difference. What you don't want to do, however, and there are plenty of examples of these, are the following three courses of action.
How NOT to get SquareEnix to produce Chrono Break
#3: Send in scripts and ideas for the game
This comes in at a solid third for "futility." If you've been a fan for awhile, and have a rough concept of how the game making process works, you'll know why this is fundamentally flawed. The first reason? People are brought in and paid to make engaging scripts, scenarios, and characters for RPGs. It may seem ghastly to you, but there are professional scenario writers working within the Japanese and otherwise game industries who assist with stuff for general plots they didn't even invent. Did you know that the story of Chrono Trigger itself was split up between a few people? That's right; famous Mr. Kato didn't have complete control over the plot yet. The only part of the game he singlehandedly made was 12000 B.C. (and it shows; many thanks for Zeal), while other scenario writers and collaborators handled events and dialogue elsewhere.
There are some very creative people out there, who can spice up the dullest story by planning amazing and intricate events and padding plot depth. Money is a mighty source of inspiration, and game designers are happy to let their heads go to the clouds for a few days in order to churn out great material for a sizable paycheck and a sense of accomplishment. Does this mean that a guy named Akira Watanabe, who isn't as much of a Chrono fan as sergeglenn510@aol (example), knows the series better and can write events true to the theme of the games? Not necessarily -- there are many works of fanfiction that take the story in new directions and explore different areas; however, to make a good, solid game, and a bestseller that will do well on both sides of Pacific, professionalism is a must and certain rules must be adhered to. These people, especially Masato Kato, series creator, know what they're doing, and the last thing SE needs is a lawsuit from a 12 year old who claimed they stole the idea e-mailed to them.
#2: Internet Petitions
Petition is historically a potentiate for moving substantial obstacles and effecting widespread change. The right to do so for protection against governmental grievances is even written into the First Amendment. However, as stated, these are for petitions, as in copies of hand-written signatures with real life sources and official documents that verify its genuineness. Internet petitions lack all of the above. They're firstly set up a dime a dozen, usually on topsites that link to hundreds of them. Secondly, they depend on e-mails and names to serve as signatures; this is inherently flawed -- where's the proof? If one has ever quickly faked registration info to sign up for a forum, then it should become apparently how easily it is to fake identity (and in this case, signatures). This totally undermines considering the signatures as coming from real people, since one person can virtually fake thousands of signings.
But wait! There's more. Considering the above, also take into mind how internet petitions are delivered -- yes, they have to be given electronically through corporate feedback. This is an item with no equivalent in the physical plane whatsoever, and it also must be delivered in the form of the hyperlink. The result? Not all customer support representatives feel like checking -- and in some cases, are even authorized to check -- linked material in e-mails sent to them. The efforts of the petitioner are condemned to waste, and even if the support helper delivers and passes up the internet petition in the chain of corporate command, it will be dismissed for the reasons in the last paragraph. It's a lose-lose situation; the petitioner wastes his time, and so does Square Enix. Real petitions work because they're not only undeniably signed by real people, but are physical and weighty. A real petition, as in a meaty stack of papers slammed on the desk of a corporation man, is tangible and effective. Virtual petitions will never have that kind of clout.
#1: Hatefully e-mailing SquareEnix
This is the pinnacle of raging fanboyism, and is the absolute most ineffective and worst thing a Chrono fan could do to get Chrono Break made. These e-mails began appearing profusely after Chrono Trigger Resurrection received a Cease & Desist Letter (which SquareEnix had a full right to send; but that's another feature). The fans cried foul, and began cursing out the company in e-mails that simultaneously pleaded for a new game. Riddle me this, Batman - according to social custom, is "i haet u you are evil and dont help gamers" the equivalent to "please"? If you struggled to get a job with the company, and started working for the corporation as a customer service representative, would you bother reading this trash? Even if you were the high and mighty CEO -- would you do it? An angry e-mail sent by a fan not even old enough to vote is the equivalent of spam. At times, those toiling over SE's help lines do manage to compose a return e-mail for these undeserving crazies, but usually its the stock e-mail to Chrono fans -- "no new Chrono game is planned, but the series is not necessarily dead."
Asking for a new game in the same letter takes the entire folly one step further. SquareEnix is not going to listen to rants and insults, much less consider them to make a huge business decision. There are a few facts to be known here; firstly, SquareEnix is well aware that the ones shooting off stupid e-mails represent a minute fraction of the totality of Chrono fans. They're the equivalent of extremists, foaming at the mouth and yelling at the company to make a new game -- or "else!" In some cases, observed at the Chrono Trigger Resurrection forums, minors are threatening legal action and grave, corporate reprimand against the company -- without any understanding of how it all works or why declaring that one's life is committed to a Chrono Trigger remake is a little on the pathetic side. Next in the fact list is the startling realization that big businesses are not invincible and can go bankrupt from bad ventures; the reason the Final Fantasy series was titled "Final Fantasy" is because it was Squaresoft's last project. If the original had not made it, then the company would have had to close down. Fortunately, it did sell well, and allowed Squaresoft to grow and churn out the Chrono games we love.
Chrono Trigger was a bankable game, and Chrono Cross established the series rigidly that it is a bankable franchise. However, the fact stands that Chrono Cross did not sell well in Japan (though it exceeded US expectations), which disheartened the J-bro executives back at SE's headquarters. However, the Final Fantasy franchise has experienced phenomenal growth and interest; at the moment, new titles and Final Fantasy 7 remakes are a more sound business decision than a new Chrono game (much less, a rehashed version of Chrono Trigger). While it is inevitable that the market will become tired of seeing Final Fantasy remakes and titles, the end is currently not in sight, and until SquareEnix desires to default on some aces-in-the-hole (such as a new Chrono game), the corporation will continue making informed business choices just as a stock market investor would.
But how can we change it?
The Chrono series fanbase is not without a voice, or legions of supporters. Just go into a large IRC room and pose the question, "how many of you like Chrono Trigger"? The answers will come in droves. While we can't completely and universally alter the tastes of millions of people, and thus shift the market away from the Final Fantasy franchise (especially considering the type of person who likes Chrono games has bought and supports new FF creations), we can civilly write the corporation and express clearly our desire for a new Chrono game. While it stands that the original teams who worked on Chrono Trigger and Cross are now divided, SquareEnix still owns the title to the series, Mitsuda is a freelance scorer (meaning he can do projects for all kinds of game companies), and Masato Kato doesn't always have to be in the Monolith Soft building. The possibility is there -- but is the desire? This is for you to choose! The games reveal that the phrase Chrono Trigger means anyone or thing that unleashes its desires with such force as to change history and exert enormous influence. We have that power! And in order to effect changes, we've got to do it professionally and intelligently.
I've set up a new page in the Encyclopedia to assist you with writing them. You can contact the company at their Live Support page, through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by the preferred physical mail (a real world request is harder to delete and ignore than a virtual item).
Square Enix, Inc.
6060 Center Drive, Suite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90045
And here is a sample letter:
Dear Square Enix,
I am a fan of the Chrono series, which includes the games Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. I very much enjoyed these titles, and am part of a large community of fans who share in my experiences. I am writing you to express my desire for a new Chrono game, and my full support in purchasing a new title. The series is unique, engaging, and very fun, and I would be overjoyed to see a new addition to its already outstanding lineup of games.
Remember that a new Chrono game may not be in the works for some time to come; the market and required human resources may not be currently favorable. However, it is paramount that SquareEnix knows we love the Chrono series, and would scoop up a new game immediately. They will listen -- provided you maintain a cordial manner and a positive tone. Now, let's get to it! I've already sent in my request -- will you?
Facts about the next Chrono game
- SE has a trademark for an unknown product called "Chrono Break," registered in 2001.
- Head of Squaresoft at the time, Hironobu Sakaguchi, said a new Chrono game might be in the works in 2001.
- The "Chrono Brake" in Japan and "Chrono Break" in the US trademarks were registered soon after.
- The US trademark was withdrawn on November 13, 2003.
- Nothing has ever been officially announced concerning a new game.
- SquareEnix's site FAQ states that no new game is in the works, but the Chrono series is not necessarily dead.
- Series creator Masato Kato is no longer with SquareEnix, legal owner the series, which would complicate production of a new game.
Read the official entry for Chrono Break in the Compendium encyclopedia here.