Opinion: Square Enix Online Store Continues To Struggle In NA

ffxivduality

Last week, Final Fantasy XIV fans around the world anxiously awaited the release of “Duality” the new arrangement album featuring piano tracks as well as new arrangements from Sound Director Masayoshi Soken’s band “The Primals”. Many, outside of Japan at least, are still waiting.

Those that ordered the album that released on December 7th are just now, five days after the release date, getting their tracking e-mails.

The day after the album was supposed to be released, the Square Enix Online store still had it available to pre-order, before then changing the release date listed to December 9th- two days after its advertised release date. The reason for the delay we’re told- is customs and duties.

So a big box of discs gets caught up in customs. What’s the big deal?

Meanwhile, those who ordered the album from other online sites (such as myself) were able to get the album on-time if not a day early. My album cost less than buying it directly from Square Enix- better yet, it also included a cardboard sleeve, something that is exclusive to various retailers in Japan as well as the online e-store which was something that I wrote about back in March. No sleeve is listed as coming with Duality in North America, nor is there one available to purchase with SE members points.

Lack of communication from Square Enix about the delay, coupled with a ninja-edit of the release date on the store website (the FFXIV launcher itself still lists the album as a 12/7 release), is making the Square Enix Online Store lose customers. Several people I’ve talked to about the album said that they’ll be considering alternatives the next time something releases.

My fear is that the more Square Enix drops the ball with releases like this, the more people will migrate over to other online sellers and that, in turn, may show a lack of interest in FFXIV merchandise for North America. It’s no secret that I (as well as others) would love to see more merchandise brought over to North America, but I feel like the online store isn’t helping matters in its current state.

The only incentive to order anything from Square Enix’s Online Store are exclusive collector’s editions, and their member points- which, after being included on inserts in their physical games years ago, have been made exclusive to orders made on their horrible online store- which is made further disappointing when so many items being imported actually come with code inserts for Members Points that can only be used in Japan.

Square Enix’s Online Store is losing customers. They’re charging customers more money for a slower service while also quietly changing release dates on items that they can’t deliver on time. But don’t be sad! Those albums that arrive weeks after their release date have earned you some points that you’ll be able to spend on items like CD sleeves that came with albums as a free bonus when they released in Japan.

I don’t have a magical solution for Square Enix- but they still have a ways to go when it comes to merchandise in North America and treating their fans better.

This post is made even funnier by the fact that people got their Final Fantasy XV Ultimate Collector’s Editions days before the actual release date.

 

 

  • Paul Shellenhamer Jr

    I dont think its an opinion that the SQstore struggles online its a large fact. I wish they would partner with an online market such as Amazon or other such online stores for fulfillment of orders. somewhere that makes it easy track your package, get a hold of someone(there is literally no way to contact SQstore other than email and wait 5 or more days for them to get back to you), and just having a better all together shopping experience.

  • Triss Yu

    I’m extremely grateful for this article. Not everyone has an official outlet like this to voice their concerns where SE might hear them.

  • http://www.teccomic.com/ Robert D.

    Not to mention the NA Online Store is a joke compared to the Japanese one. The Japanese store has tons of exclusive merch (especially from Final Fantasy XIV) – meanwhile here in the US we get stuff that is at least a year old in Japan.

    The Japanese Online Store has phone cases, tote bags, collectible dishes (like the rice bowls and Meteor Chopsticks). Things that people in the US would gladly buy, even if it was in smaller quantities than the Japanese store. Hell, they’re releasing a Haurchefant cocoa mug and a necklace of the Fortemps kite shield – both of which I doubt we’ll see US releases of, which is really frustrating.

    The SE Online Store could be amazing if they actually offered the type of merch they do on the Japanese eShop. Offer unique memorabilia and stuff that you can only get from them – instead of just a place to buy soundtracks and games (where you can get them cheaper from deputy services or Amazon)

  • Shava Nerad

    I used to be a marketing exec doing licensing and contracts for the online stores for HBO, Sony Pictures, and a bunch of the big studios (including some anime/manga imports) back around the turn of the century in the dotcom era, and there’s this trade association, the Licence Industry Merchandise Association, that exists just for this specialized juju you are talking about. It is arcane beyond belief. It would take an entire staff of people probably larger than their NA tech support staff, from what I’ve seen of that (it’s too small lol) to just deal with the legal/licensing/transfer and import admiinistrivia details. Remember, they don’t make all this stuff — the t-shirts are manufactured by a t-shirt licensee, who probably doesn’t normally ship to the US. The discs are manufactured by another company that may not normally ship to the US. The phone cases by another company, and the table ware by another company. They probably don’t have a store that ships to the US itself, and contract that aspect out to a third party — but then they have issues also that some of the artists may not have licensed their art (not the character art, but the artists’ renditions) for use in other regions. Which means they need to renegotiate for any country an order comes in from for any royalty arrangements, or refuse orders from various places. Have you ever heard people piss and moan when a game or item isn’t available in, say, Brazil? Right.

    So on the one hand, they are giving us little enough love. I have no notion that there is any other game company in North America that has chat support open 9-5 on weekdays only for a game that is presumably played by people who, for the most part, presumably work or attend school during the days. Asking them to stretch to take on this extra burden on the speculation we’d buy enough swag to justify it is pretty risky looking to them, likely, considering their commitment levels.