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If the Kingdom Hearts team genuinely wants to expand its fanbase—wait, haven't we already said this?
What more can I say?
About 1.5 months ago, I wrote for the Kingdom Hearts Database about how terribly out of place it is that Square Enix was releasing the Kingdom Hearts series around the world and across multiple platforms but was still treating its non-Japanese audiences as secondary to its Japanese audience. I did not expect anything to change in such short time—and indeed, nothing has—and yet I’m writing here again because it’s hard to dismiss equally significant evidence of the same as though it were just more of the same. More is expected of a renowned video game developer; much more should be required. And so, here we are again, discussing once more why Square Enix should stop dismissing its, let’s call them non-standard audiences, this time its PC audience.
The frustrations seem to come down largely to two issues: there are either major audio spikes or game-crashing glitches throughout most or all of the playable games, particularly in the older, non-PS4-era titles. The locations of each of these seem to be scattered throughout the games, and they may not be caused by any particular set of events. They seem to be occurring at random, including during end-game bosses and events. TopazTK, a member of the Kingdom Hearts modding community, just released a mod that patches a lot of these bugs, though presumably there will still be issues of some kind in these older titles. All the while, Square Enix and the Kingdom Hearts team have been eerily, frustratingly, disappointingly quiet about the whole thing since the ports launched on March 31, 2021, on the Epic Games Store. Not to mention, it is not the community’s job to freely fix glitches in a video game port an entire team was paid to produce. It seems to leave the impression, regardless of whether it is true or not, that the Kingdom Hearts team does not actually care for the PC ports of the Kingdom Hearts series, or its fans on the Windows PC platform.
My main gripe about this is that Square Enix seems to be genuinely interested in expanding the Kingdom Hearts footprint and audience. Almost ten years ago, after scattering the series like dandelions across five different platforms, Square Enix announced it was beginning to bring them together in one place, as Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX was announced for the PS3, bringing the PS2’s Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories together with the Nintendo DS’s Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. When the game released, it teased that effort would soon include the PS2’s Kingdom Hearts II, the PSP’s Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, and the Nintendo DS’s Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. By the time Kingdom Hearts III released, it was now possible to be a new fan and play the entire series on the PlayStation 4. Within a year, Square Enix made it possible to be a fan on the Xbox One and have access to the entire series. You could now be a gamer on both major video game consoles of the time and have access to the entire series. And just recently, they have done the work of expanding that to PC gamers. At the same time as they’ve consolidated and expanded the reach of the Kingdom Hearts video game series, they’ve published (and, in some cases, republished) the Kingdom Hearts manga series through Yen Press. The Kingdom Hearts III manga series is coming out almost simultaneously worldwide. And we are finally getting at least some of the textbook-level literature in the form of the recently released Kingdom Hearts Ultimania: The Story before Kingdom Hearts III and the upcoming Kingdom Hearts Character Files books.
And yet, as they continue to make incredible strides towards universal parity regarding this series, the disparity in the games seems to only get bigger and more frustrating. What good is having the Ultimania series localized and released worldwide if PC players can only sort-of play the games themselves? What benefit is there to having the games released across all major platforms if the Xbox version still has PlayStation-based errors? What is the point of catching up all the versions of Kingdom Hearts Union χ if the finale is still released non-simultaneously?
The Kingdom Hearts series is about friendship and coming together for what is right. Surely what is right includes allowing all gamers to come together and enjoy this series equally, without this disparity across platforms or regions. Instead, it seems Square Enix has just as quickly forgot it released this series to other platforms or regions or would like to forget it did. The silence that has followed the four months since the release of the Kingdom Hearts series on PC, particularly despite these widely reported glitches, is embarrassing and disappointing. If Square Enix and the Kingdom Hearts team are going to release these games on PC, or any other platform or region, there should be an expectation that they will support them. There should be a commitment to supporting these versions of the games for a significantly longer time than the one-month marketing window post-release. Even saying that the issues are known and are being worked on is a much better approach than the deafening silence we have seen thus far. These games deserve to be on as universal a platform as the PC is. They deserve to be in the hands and the lives of as many gamers as are willing to play and enjoy them. This series has a message and a story like no other and it deserves better—much better—than the glitch-filled, choppy, inconsistent attention that either Square Enix or Disney have been willing to give thus far.