Everyone seems to think that FPS and action games are the only genres that can be successful in the AAA space. But, why is that? Why, suddenly, are there only two genres capable of success, when we used to have a good variety of genres?
Some will argue that "AAA" hasn't existed until the PS3/360 gen. I argue that "AAA" has always existed, and is simply defined by a developer pushing the top-of-the-line consoles to their limits.
In the PS1 and PS2 eras, we had AAA turn-based RPGs. Yet, today, people scoff at the very thought of such games. "They would flop, horribly" they say. "The publisher would go bankrupt", they say. "Nonsense", I say.
I think people need to ask themselves why. Why can FPS and action games be AAA, but turn-based games cannot? Why do people look down on turn-based games, when they used to be so popular, and sold millions of copies?
To me, the answer is clear. Yet, no one else seems to see it. Think of your average (emphasis on the word: average), modern turn-based game.
I'm willing to bet that, for one thing, you just thought of a handheld or phone game. I present you with problem number 1. How well do you think an FPS would sell on a handheld or phone, compared to its AAA console counterparts?
I'm also willing to bet that you thought of story scenes taking place with static, cardboard-cutout characters who occasionally change the emotion they're supposed to show. Can you even fathom how hard an FPS would flop if it tried to get away with the same crutch? People would laugh at that game. You can't take it seriously.
I think "Demon Gaze" is a perfect example. Look at "Demon Gaze", and replace the turn-based battles with FPS gameplay. Do you think it would sell well? Hardly.
And this is the point I'm trying to make. People (the entire industry, included) look at turn-based games as a "niche" genre, so they make "niche" games in that genre. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. A "niche" FPS or action game will flop just as hard as a "niche" game in any other genre.
And, along those same lines, it is my strong belief that a AAA turn-based game can be just as successful as a AAA game in any other genre, including FPS and action. The only reason they are "niche" is because the industry has forced them to be.
SquareEnix has proven these things to be true, in the past. But the other Japanese companies that make these games look to them to lead the way. And, SquareEnix has not been playing the role of leader. They've been following western companies, and (in my opinion) are largely responsible for the state of the Japanese industry.
If SquareEnix can put their money where their mouth is, and bring turn-based RPGs back to the AAA space, I believe that they will, once again, be a massive success, and other Japanese companies will follow them. All they have to do is try. Something that hasn't been done in a long time.