Square Enix’s Forspoken is one of the first major exclusives for PlayStation 5 to launch in 2023.  Unfortunately, reviews have been mixed with a current score of only 67 on Metacritic.


Forspoken was a highly anticipated title for both PlayStation 5 and PC.  Most reviews have been mixed with some reviewers really enjoying the title.  Forbes writer Erik Kain did a nice summary of the issue where he noted the early reviews are only for the PlayStation 5 version, not the PC version.  Kain notes Square Enix did not give out review codes for the PC version and he expects PC reviews to be worse.

Quite a few games that were originally scheduled for a 2022 launch were pushed to 2023 and Forspoken was one of them. Overall, the initial impressions make Forspoken the first major disappointment of 2023.  The game had been delayed several times and the thinking was Square was taking the time to get it right.

This raises the question of whether other big games, such as the major Xbox exclusive Starfield will be delayed.  Starfield was originally scheduled for 2022 but was pushed to the first half of 2023.  For Microsoft and Bethesda Starfield is a crucial title and rushing it to market may be a mistake.

There is also the issue of releasing PC versions of major console titles.  Companies like Square Enix are fairly new to launching premium titles for both console and PC platforms.  The minimum requirements for Forspoken are 16GB of RAM with a recommended 24GB.  This is incredibly high and will severely limit the PC audience for the game.

Sony Interactive Entertainment is also trying to get into the PC game business.  On February 15 Sony is launching the PC version of Returnal, a 2021 PlayStation 5 exclusive.  Returnal originally was recommending 32GB of RAM on the Steam listing.  After significant backlash, Sony changed that to a minimum and recommended 16GB of RAM (which is still high).

Covid stay-at-home wrecked havoc with product development cycles and is forcing companies to agonize between continued delays versus launching a not-quite-ready product.  Having to do both a PC and console version at the same time only adds to the complication. 

It is not only a product development issue but also a marketing/PR issue that goes back to the 2020 launch of Cyberpunk 2077 where the issue was reversed (review codes were sent for the PC version, not the buggy console versions).  Gamers hammer this type of marketing/PR.  As of 1/26/23, the Metacritic user score for Forspoken is 3.8/10 for the PlayStation 5 version and 2.1/10 for the PC version (note the user score is a sentiment measure that can be subject to review spams)

Square Enix is an initial holding in the DFC Intelligence Video Game Stock Portfolio launched on January 3, 2023.  Despite a lukewarm reception to Forspoken, the stock has been up 7% in the past three weeks.  DFC still believes Square Enix has solid long-term prospects.

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