By Dia Ascenzi
You are Tyro, the newest Record Keeper of the Royal Archives. Here, records of every Final Fantasy world are kept safe. Until now. Your teacher, Dr. Mog, has informed you that some evil force is causing the records to vanish, and the only way to preserve them is to dive right in and relive each record. Your journey begins in Final Fantasy Record Keeper.
Final Fantasy Record Keeper (FFRK) celebrated its one-year anniversary this past March. Considered one of the most overlooked games of 2015, FFRK hits all the nostalgia buttons for any die-hard Final Fantasy fan. It’s a mobile, free-to-play (F2P) game developed by Square Enix and DeNA. Released globally in March of 2015 (earlier in Japan), the game is almost a year and a half old, and still going strong. Despite having upset many of its players in a prior controversy involving item drop-rates, most players stuck around, though many are spending significantly less money on the game.
Many F2P games allow players to spend real money for extra content, or for an in-game currency. So although the game is free, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on it, and many players do. This can be dangerous for players, as the “relic-pull” system in FFRK is more-or-less just gambling. The game allows the purchase of “gems” within the game, which you can then use to draw for rare items, among other things. The relic-pull feature uses a random number generator, meaning regardless of the percentage chance for you to get an item, you could still get nothing, over and over again. It is gambling, in the same way gambling can potentially cost you more money than you can afford to lose, often with little reward. After all, that relic could be just one more $30 click away… or not. Luckily, the FFRK community knows and lives with that hard truth.
The Tactics banner controversy
During a recent in-game event, and perhaps the most hyped event in the game’s history, players were misinformed, or at least given false expectations regarding the drop rates of certain rare items. This caused an enormous uproar among the game’s community, specifically in the game’s Reddit community. Due to the uniform rates that were used in every event for the past few months, players expected the new event to be no different. When the event launched, however, a redditor compiled over 70,000 results, from almost 2000 other redditors, and their data spoke differently. The rates for featured items were not what players expected based on months of uniform rates, and players believe DeNA did this knowing players would spend more money chasing these relics. Players who spent large amounts of real money, as well as players who have spent no real money, but instead spent months worth of hoarded in-game currency, felt cheated and confused.
When reaching out to DeNA for answers, players were given the same few vague, unsympathetic responses, claiming that drop rates were working as intended. One such response stated: “We have carefully investigated in this matter and were able to confirm that the drop rates for the featured relics, as well as those for the other items, on this banner are correct.”
After a few months of players protesting by giving the game terrible ratings, stopping spending any money, or quitting the game altogether, DeNA was able to slowly regain their players’ trust and loyalty. The game is currently still very popular, the subreddit having over 13,000 subscribers. The developers continue to add new content to the game, launching a new event almost weekly, and frequently doing other events, such as a Summer giveaway, monthly “Nightmare Dungeons,” and the ever coveted “Orbfests,” perhaps the game’s most popular kind of event. For a game that has been around well over a year (and a mobile game, no less), it’s impressive that so many people are still in love with FFRK (including me).
Play at your own risk
Microtransactions in gaming are growing in popularity, and not just mobile gaming. GTA 5’s online mode has made “at least” $500 million in optional transactions. Halo 5 introduced microtransaction as well, and has netted over $1.5 million. Not only are microtransactions showing up more in gaming, but it seems players are making use of them.
But it has its downsides. There was a time when buying a game meant you bought the whole game. Then developers began charging separately for download content. Now many games have virtually no limit to how much money you can spend. It’s dangerous, to say the least. Especially in light of DeNA’s recent fiasco with FFRK. If developers do in fact employ shady tactics in order to urge players to spend more money with diminishing return, microtransactions may quickly fall out of fashion. Until then, enjoy the feature, but be careful.
Final Fantasy Record Keeper was once near the top of the Top Grossing list in the Google Play Store. They are currently around 150th. That’s not too bad, considering they still have tons of people playing, just not as many spending. DeNA has still been able to reliably keep the game interesting. With over 120 different characters spanning across 15 different Final Fantasy games that we all know and love, dozens of exclusive events to date, and 23 story updates, this game hasn’t really ever hit a boring patch. And, with the Japanese version of the game acting as a sort of teaser of what’s to come for Global players, we know that there is much, much more to look forward to.