That Time a Company Had to Get Permission to Make a Joke


It’s a long-running joke in the gaming-community that the Final Fantasy series is pretty poorly named given there are currently 15 numbered mainline titles with that name at the time of writing. A joke you’d think the owners of the franchise would be on or at least, not be huge weirdoes about. As it turns out, they are. The latter we mean.

To explain, it’s well known in the occasionally intersecting spheres of gaming and technology that Final Fantasy was originally named that as a nod to the fact many working on the first game in the series figured it’d be the last project they’d work on before the company ran out of money and shit the bed. Fortunately that wasn’t the case and the game was a massive hit, so massive in fact it has inspired over a dozen sequels, a feature-length movie and countless bits of spinoff and crossover media.

The most famous example of the latter being the Kingdom Hearts series which features edgier redesigns of Final Fantasy mainstays kicking the everliving fuck out Disney characters. Which is exactly as convoluted and dumb as it sounds.

Anyway, you’d think with all this success the owners of the series, Square Enix would have enough humility to accept some good-natured ribbing about the remarkably languid senescence of their most iconic IP. Especially, for example, if said ribbing came from a company they owned, right?

Well that’s not exactly the case as the developers of the game Deus Ex: Human Revolution found out when they wanted to include a nod to Square Enix in the game after the latter acquired them in, ironically enough given the subject matter of the game, a hostile corporate beatdown.

Specifically the developers of Deus Ex which is set in the far off future of, erm, 2027, wanted to make a subtle nod to the Final Fantasy series and it’s reputation as the Michael Myers of gaming in that no amount of bad sequels will ever truly kill it off by putting this poster for a theoretical 27th instalment of the series in the office of some NPCs.

A joke developer Eidos-Montréal assumed would be fine because, who’d give a shit about something this trivial and it’s not like it’s a mocking jab at the series more than tactic acknowledgement that gamers fucking love slapping people’s shit as anime girls with massive tits and as a result, the Final Fantasy series will never fucking die.

However, for legal reasons they still had to get permission for the joke since technically they were directly invoking the intellectual property of another company. Sure it’s a company that owned them but permission was needed nonetheless. Which is when the problem began.

Now exactly what happened isn’t clear because Eidos weren’t exactly keen to shit-talk the new business sugar daddy bankrolling their entire company but according to interviews with former members of the company and stuff, Square Enix fucking hated this joke and repeatedly vetoed it’s inclusion every time Eidos tried to slip it in. This back and forth between the two companies apparently went on for months until Eidos, who at this point we kind of respect for being this committed to a pretty mediocre joke (because honestly, same) contacted the owner of the company that owned them to get permission instead. Meaning Eidos pulled what might be the most justified and powerful “I want to speak to the manager” moments in corporate history.

A move that ultimately paid off and allowed them to include the poster. But really, it was more about the principle than anything else and we appreciate that.