Opinion: Square Enix Online Store Continues To Struggle In NA

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.