Luminous Productions, the team behind this year's powerfully middling Forspoken, is going quietly into that good night. In a tweet posted yesterday, the studio announced that, "Beginning on May 1," it would "join Square Enix to deliver new, innovative gaming experiences across the globe". In other words, it's being folded into its parent company and ceasing to exist as a separate entity.
An Update from Luminous Productions pic.twitter.com/fbDENflRhjFebruary 28, 2023
In the two months between now and May 1, Luminous says it'll be "entirely focused on Forspoken," and that it's "currently working on the previously announced patch to address overall game performance". Given that some of Forspoken's previous patches didn't really do much to optimise the game for some players, we'd better hope this last one is a doozy. The studio also said that Forspoken's upcoming DLC—In Tanta We Trust—remains "on track for release this summer".
For obvious reasons, Luminous tries to present this as a positive move for the company, but there's a trace of something elegiac in its released statement. When Luminous was established, the announcement reads, "[Its] vision was to make AAA games that fused technology and artistry to deliver completely new play experiences. Having the chance to do just that has been a dream come true". The company probably won't get the chance to try its hand at a Forspoken 2 for a long time yet, if ever.
Square Enix said the decision was about "further [bolstering] the competitive prowess of the Group’s development studios" in its own announcement of the merger, but it's hard not to see this as driven by the muted response to Forspoken, which drew a large shrug of the shoulders from critics and became an object of meme-based mockery by the gaming community at large. Square Enix probably doesn't see much value in giving the studio another crack at its own project.
No mention has been made of what will happen to the studio's Luminous Engine, which both Forspoken and Final Fantasy 15 ran on. I'd be surprised if Square Enix didn't just keep using it where appropriate, though, it's not like the studio's computers are all being burnt in a skip.
So, bad news for anyone hoping for a Forspoken sequel, a faction of people that presumably exists somewhere out there. As for us, PCG's Mollie Taylor scored the game 65% in her Forspoken review, lamenting its "painfully basic" combat, "vapid gameplay objectives" and "limp narrative". There were some good things in Forspoken, they just couldn't make up for the rest of it.