One of the most iconic franchises in video game history is having a hard time staying relevant, according to Final Fantasy 14 and 16 director Naoki Yoshida.
“In terms of whether Final Fantasy is successfully adapting to industry trends, I think the series is currently struggling,” Yoshida told Inverse. (opens in a new tab). “We are now at a point where we receive a wide variety of requests regarding the design direction of our game. To be honest, it would be impossible to satisfy all those requests with a single title. My current impression is that all of us really can do is create multiple games and continue to create the best we can at any given time.
The director, who has worked at Square Enix for the last 18 years, could be referring to many trends that have taken over video games or threaten to do so. In February (opens in a new tab)headed to Square Enix (opens in a new tab) and the gaming industry’s growing interest in NFTs and the ‘play to win’ mechanic of cryptocurrencies, confirming that FF14 will not incorporate them. And, while the MMO is said to have a free trial that you can play via its Heavensward expansion, it’s still not a completely free-to-play live service game like Genshin Impact or Ubisoft’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed Infinity. (opens in a new tab) promise to be. final fantasy 16 (opens in a new tab)the next main entry in the series will also not be, nor will it be open world, but it will include gender-swapping battles between its iconic summons, a first for the series.
Outside of the numbered entries, the Final Fantasy games have slightly pushed things in more modern directions. There are several Final Fantasy mobile gacha games; Brave Exvius reached 45 million downloads last year. Final Fantasy 7 Remake and the other spin-offs continue to stray from the original game’s path, like the battle royale shooter that launched last year. But none of them really took off or had as much impact as the series in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Yoshida told Inverse that the series isn’t about chasing trends, it’s about setting them, and that FF16’s storytelling will reflect that. But it seems that he wants to do much more than that. The long development cycles of your latest numbered entries probably make it difficult.
Side projects could go even further into the unknown, but Square Enix, a notoriously risk-averse company, might be hard to convince. (opens in a new tab), let a team do that. Yoshida seems interested in moving on after Final Fantasy 16 comes out next year.
“I’m the kind of person who’s happy as long as I can make games, so even though there’s nothing in particular, every now and then I think I’d like to make one more MMORPG from scratch before I die,” Yoshida said.
After the clever and historic ending to the original incarnation of FF14 and his recent explosion in popularity, I hope he gets his wish.