Enough with the lazy game creation and cheap ports already! If you are a fan of classic 90s games, you’ll remember Chrono Trigger. You also might have noticed that Square Enix released a surprise PC port recently.
In attempts to tap into nostalgia, Square Enix has released a series of classic game ports. Despite the Fortnite vs PUBG debate and the Far Cry 5 release, the Internet is rumbling about one of these botched PC ports.
Before Chrono Trigger, many Final Fantasy games received mobile ports. But, more so than other games, fans have reacted negatively to Chrono Trigger.
Many a Chrono Trigger fan might be in the tech business these days. So, booting up a PC game only to see leftovers of mobile controls might be disheartening. Design-minded individuals were also disappointed by the PC port (drop shadow alert).
But does a port need to be 100% faithful to be profitable? Obviously not.
Warning: The Following Video Contains Spoilers and a Mobile Review
You can get a great idea of how the mobile port handles from this video. Of course, the reviewer spoils one of the biggest plot points within about 38-seconds. Keep that in mind.
Fans of the original Chrono Trigger will remember very different menus. They also might notice that the pixel art is bigger on the world map. But overall, the base game and mechanics remain unchanged.
Of course, this mobile port was already a port of another port. Because the game originally debuted on the Super Nintendo, the first two ports were to the PlayStation 1. Between those iterations, Chrono Trigger amassed more than 3,000,000 copies in worldwide sales.
That amounts to a grand gross total of $319,113,491 USD BEFORE inflation adjustment. The game definitely has a history of success.
So when the surprise PC port happened, many a 90s kid purchased the game. But, once they booted it up, many were dissatisfied with the mobile to PC port.
Pleasing Fans Comes After Profits for Modern Games and Ports
“It’s ugly in both interesting AND boring ways,” says Tim Rogers of Kotaku. The video elucidates various ways the port disappoints fans. But it also pokes fun at people being very melodramatic about this release.
The truth is: the menu is different and the map isn’t really formatted for PC. If you look closely, you can see grid lines and hard cut-offs on the world map. I’d recommend opening the image media file for a better look.
Other fans took their comments directly to Square Enix’s Twitter feed. If you check out the Steam page, you can find even more disgruntled fans.
That said, the Steam version still sold around 15,000 copies according to available numbers. Without knowing the development process or what kind of work hours actually went into porting it from mobile to PC, we can’t quantify how successful the port was for Square Enix.
But, between the DS and mobile versions of the game, Square Enix made around $47-million USD after inflation adjustment. So it definitely wasn’t a total loss for them.
So why make this haphazardly put together port for PC instead of a new game?
Game Development Truths: Expenses vs Profits
IGN released a 2009 article claiming that Square Enix wanted to boost sales for Chrono Trigger. The author contended that they should “stop overcharging fans for 14-year old ports”.
But the cost of modern gave development is astronomical now compared to the 90s.
Developers of I Am Setsuna, the spiritual successor to Chrono Trigger, posted a $2.4-million USD loss in 2016. This also comes after having support from Square Enix.
On top of that, the overall cost to consumers has stayed relatively the same over the years. Many console and PC games still cost around $60 like they did in 2012. Part of this has to do with market oligarchies and how EA and Activision can “set the price”.
But video games also can cost up to seven figures to make now. Of course, a haphazardly put together PC port of a mobile port raises eyebrows. But, for developers, long-term goals matter more than nostalgic fans.