Square Enix as described by me:
A company with its collective head rammed up its rear end. Their budgets are over bloated, their development times are unbelievably long, their localization habits have been slipping, and their communication skills blow.
And I may be alone in this, but I never did see them as great storytellers. That being said: Final Fantasy XIII's last 3 chapters; all of XIII-2; Dirge of Cerberus; Advent Children (It's basically one big fight scene); Final Fantasy X-2; and Dissidia/Dissidia Duodecim were just plain bad story wise and then there was 3rd Birthday which was utterly attrocious. Most of the other stories were at least adequate, but these last few years they just went down the toilet in terms of story telling.
But criticisms aside, they get way too much hate.
Final Fantasy XI WAS NOT a bad game. It reviewed well, was received well by those who actually played it, and sold well. In fact, it's considered the most lucrative FF entry according to Square. But because it was an MMO, it was doomed to "WORST FF GAME EVER!" from the start.
Final Fantasy XII was also NOT a bad game. It reviewed amazingly well, was received well (8/10 and above for most sites for user scores), and sold well.
Final Fantasy XIII, at least according to the majority of user score aggregates, is around a 8/10 or above with tens of thousands of scores. However, there's that vocal section of the fanbase (just like with XI and XII... probably the same people) who want everyone to believe that XIII was "consensus bad". It wasn't: it was polarizing. That's it.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 was basically a massive apology game as they added in towns, a dedicated shop, mini games, sidequests throughout, hidden items, NPCs, ability to backtrack, hidden endings, etc. despite the fact that they didn't want to. They wanted a "Cinematic" experience. Players didn't. They went with what the players wanted. Granted, the story was extremely lacking, but it was still a step in the direction the vocal fans wanted. I personally didn't like it, but hey, that's just my opinion. Again, there is no "Consensus" on the "fact" that it was bad.
And now Lightning Returns is basically Square saying "Yeah, we get that we've been stuck in the past. Here's the customization, increased mobility, increased environmental interactivity, open environments, massive emphasis on sidequests, massive emphasis on towns, massive emphasis on NPC interaction, etc. you've been screaming for". Yes, it's STILL part of the XIII universe, but they don't have the time or money at this point to make XV. Take what you can get and laugh at the how bad the story is as you enjoy the gameplay.
Square Enix is a company that clearly doesn't know what the hell to do anymore: They don't know when to try to innovate and when to try to refine what they have; they don't know how the hell to tell a story (NONE of those directors or writers do); and they clearly don't know what direction to take their flagship franchises. They seem to be floundering at the moment. But damned if they won't try their best to please fans while bringing in new people. That's more than most other companies who just up and drop their fanbase when they find greener pastures.