This is going to be a bit of a difficult topic, I imagine, but I wanted to talk a little about this. Managing websites like Nova Crystallis and UFFSite, we obviously care about how much draw Final Fantasy has and how much traffic it can bring and all that. We love FF and we wouldn't stop doing what we do, but we also wouldn't want to spend a horrifying amount of money only to find that there's no interest and we can't even recoup it. Bluntly, this is how we decide where to deploy our very limited resources & budget, because we can't let our hearts rule our heads all the time. As such, stuff like Google Trends is pretty important to us. It gives us a great insight into what is going on across the web and how much interest there is in something. What Google Trends essentially does is track interest across not just google, but all of google's properties - YouTube, etcetera - and tracks interest from end users based on search & click activity. To be clear, the way any graph I show here works is this: 100%, at the top of the graph, will always be the highest point of one of your search terms. So they're relative graphs, basically, rather than absolute - rather than giving you a number, it lets you track how one thing is doing relative to another thing - which is fairly relevant to our interests. As I said earlier, this has a pretty great utility for us as website owners, but it's also interesting as fans and armchair pundits who're interested in how well something like FF15 might do. I'm curious what you guys'll draw from some of these things: FFXIII vs FFXV: Search Interest Over Time I figured this would be a very natural place to start. Just how much Google Interest is there in Final Fantasy XV compared to its predecessor? (skipping over MMOs, because they're really a different beast interest-wise) This can now give us an absolute answer with the industry's overwhelmingly dominant search engine. Here it is, annotated a little so we can correlate it to key dates: So - as you can see here, FF15 has significantly tracked below FF13. If we were to shift their announcement dates back to be at the same 'moment' the difference would be even more pronounced. Why is this? How does this bode for FF15 as a whole? This is something I leave you all to consider. This is one of the reasons I hope Square Enix doubles down on niche sites, fan sites and smaller websites for the FF15 promotional machine, as these are the grassroots movements that can help these things to grow; the death of many traditional FF fan sites has had an impact which you'll see later. For the record: Adding Versus XIII to this chart marks no impact of import whatsoever. FFXV & FF Type-0: Hand in Hand How did the FF15 demo impact Type-0's interest ratings? And how much more is a main release currently charting interest-wise than a spin-off - and a re-release of one, at that? Here's that. To be clear, again, this chart is RELATIVE. If you notice the high blue blips for XV from the previous chart - the XV announcement and the XV demo release, you can see where they correlate to this chart. Here we have interest in XV - fuelled by speculation - rising gradually. The early blue (XV) blips mark the 2011 trailer and other info drops in Famitsu and the like. The first red (Type-0) blip marks its re-announcement, with a gradual rise including a smaller peak when the demo released and a larger peak when it released on PSP in Japan. It then trails off until the HD announcement. You can obviously see on this graph that the announcement of the demo gave Type-0 a small boost, but a much bigger one to FF15. You can also see that when the game and demo released, Type-0 trailed off far more quickly. What I find notable, however, is how close these two have tracked in general, despite FF15 being a much bigger game. It never used to be like this, though Crisis Core did very briefly out-chart FF13's pre-release metrics around its release date. FFXV and FFVIIr - The Thunder Stealer? The performance of Final Fantasy VII after FF7's announcement at E3 is pretty interesting overall. For a start, it should be noted that FF7's announcement performs better in the Google Search metrics than any other FF announcement in recent memory, performing about a third better than FF13's announcement in 2006. It also has a much faster drop-off, however, search activity around it plummeting a fortnight after E3. It's still out-performed by the interest for FF13 around 13's Japanese and Western releases, which is three to five times as large depending on the sample you take. But what sort of impact did FF7 have on FF15? The slightly embarrassing thing, perhaps, is that FF7 consistently has more interest around it than FF15 even prior to the remake announcement - but on the graph we can directly see a correlation between FF7's announcement and the hardest, harshest fall FF15 has seen since its announcement. Some might also choose to put this down to users being displeased with Duscae - and in truth, it could be and probably is a bit of both. The question remains, though: Does the reveal of FF7 sort of slit FF15's throat? Is a casual player now going to be less interested in 15 knowing they can wait for a remake of that FF game they remember really liking on the PS1? We'll see. This data leaves absolutely no room for doubt that FF7's remake is the biggest thing to happen to FF and the biggest shot for Square Enix since FF13, however. The graph: Final Fantasy in General - A Rough Decade Google's Data is thankfully pretty smart, meaning they can combine all the games together for an overall, over-arching view from 2004, when data begins, to now - just over ten years - for FF as a whole. The picture it paints is a slightly disconcerting one, with the series in pretty much consistent decline with a big spike for FF13's release and a smaller up-tick in recent months for FF15 & FF7: That first big spike you see after the decline is for Advent Children, in September 2005. From there you can track peaks and troughs that correlate to announcements and releases, culminating in that big early 2010 jump for FF13's release. I think thje drop-off here can be attributed to a number of different things, from a decreased overall quality and satisfaction with FF titles to an increased quality in the rival titles (more on that in a little bit), but also to the slow death of the FF community online which was - it saddens me to say - a lot stronger, varied and more vibrant in the early to mid 00s. Many, many fan sites and niche operations have died or moved on from FF, and I think that's a contributing factor. No one site made a large difference, but when you add them all together it amounts to something significant. How does this compare to other titles? The easiest comparison to make is to FF's younger sibling. KH has also seen a slight drop-off from the heyday peaks around KH2 in particular, but the series has also been much more consistent and is more or less at the same interest level it always has been. Here's that: FF's general decline in search interest and internet traffic over the years is something that can be attributed to a lot of factors, but there's one specific one I want to highlight - mainly because it was us noticing this trend that led to us founding RPG Site, Nova & UFFSite's more professionally-styled sibling. Regional Differences - The Rise of the West Something that has happened since 2006 is a rise in Western RPGs that does appear to have dented one of the unique selling points of JRPGs that I believe helped propel FF to greatness in the 90s. Back then, Western RPGs were stuffy affairs, mostly on PC, and almost exclusively too trapped in the throes of D&D traditions to have a truly mass appeal. In the 2000s change started to emerge with studios like Bioware, CD Projekt RED and Bethesda finding a way to keep RPG trappings but throw off the shackles of being (dare I say it) 'too nerdy' for the mainstream. Take a look at the interest & search performance of Mass Effect, a new property, versus FF & KH: The interesting thing is how Mass Effect has, across its sequels, gradually managed to attain a consistency FF has failed to maintain. All three games now exist in roughly the same zone, however, and my question is if FF will 'even out' here, failing to spike back up again but also not sinking any lower. I think that's likely to be the case. Mass Effect is, however, not exactly the biggest rival. Arguably to the WRPG world what FF7 and 8 were to the JRPG world in the 90s is another series. How do they stack up? Red is Oblivion, Yellow is Skyrim. Crikey. The incredible thing about Skyrim: Its staying power. What on earth! What a monster. ================================= Anyway, that's it for now. What do you all make of this? How do you explain these charts? What does it make you feel about the future of FF as a series? Will they ever reach FF7 levels of success and awareness again? I'm curious for your thoughts.