Today in retro gaming, we celebrate the release of Final Fantasy VIII on the Playstation with this rather, uh, “iconic” ad from the pages of GamePro magazine back in 1999. Final Fantasy VIII is the story of how one game company and one system manufacturer worked together to perfectly sabotage the holy living shit out of their competition. Intrigued? More below the fold…
There are two types of dick moves. First is your ordinary, garden-variety dick move which is annoying to those on the receiving end, but isn’t obviously done out of malice or spite (it could have been a coincidence, an accident, whatever). Second is your rarer, came-out-of-left-field-and-POW! gigantic dick move. You know what we’re talking about: the sort which leaves no doubt in anybody’s mind you were planning it all along. No matter how much you apologize, no matter how many “no comments” you issue, no matter how many explanations you offer, you will forever be known and remembered for performing a move so utterly dickish that it will go down as a bright, shining beacon of dickery for others to dissect, examine, and even emulate years later. Final Fantasy VIII is just such a dick move.
Not the game itself, mind you. No, we’re talking about that release date. September 9th, 1999. 9-9-99. Hmmm…wasn’t there something else scheduled to hit US shores on the 9th of September that year? It seems like there was somebody wanting to capitalize on that whole block o’ nines phenomenon. But who was–?
So let’s put this in perspective. Sega goes into overtime touting the 9-9-99 release date for its new hardware. It’s slathered over the covers of every US gaming magazine, websites are running headlines, the whole, er, nine yards. Dreamcast is more powerful than the Playstation, and it’s going to hit a full year before Sony’s competing PS2 arrives on US soil in 2000. No doubt Sega’s patting themselves on the back. Last time they went toe-to-toe against Sony with that whole Saturn debacle, Sony undercut Sega’s price by $100 which almost guaranteed the failure of the Saturn from day one. Not this time though–Sega had the lead time, and Sony had nothing with which to compete…
…except the sequel to the best-selling console RPG in the history of console RPGs. Sony, in one of the most ultimately dickish dick moves ever dicked out in video game history, gave consumers a choice: you could pick up a Dreamcast and play NFL 2K with your friends on September 9th, or you could ignore Sega’s machine, save a couple hundred bucks, and instead spend the next few months of your life playing Final Fantasy VIII on the Playstation you already owned. Seems like one of those “immovable object meets the unstoppable force” moments, doesn’t it? The end result: FFVIII went on to become the fastest-selling title in the series, a record it held for the next ten years (it’s available for download in the PSN Store if you want to help inflate sales figures further). Sega on the other hand stopped supporting the Dreamcast in early 2001.
Can you blame Dreamcast’s demise directly on Final Fantasy VIII? No, of course not. Sony murdered Sega’s hardware division over the course of three years via a “death of 1,000 cuts” mechanic, taking a bit here and a chunk there. Just look at this ad though: “9-9-99″ and “for the Playstation” displayed right there in the middle, leaving no doubt in anybody’s mind they were stealing Sega’s thunder. “Suck on that, Dreamcast!” this ad declares. “Then, eat this bag of dicks!” it continues. “We released our system on September 9th first, you bastards, so come get some!” it concludes. Coincidence? No chance in hell.