Creative Business Unit III is in full swing at the moment. The division of Square Enix led by Naoki Yoshida is hip deep into the Endwalker post-launch cycle on Final Fantasy XIV, while also preparing to launch the next mainline entry in the franchise, Final Fantasy XVI. In a previous interview with Game Watch, now fully translated into English by Twitter user TurquoiseHammer, Yoshida talks primarily about FFXVI, but also offers some tidbits about FFXIV.
The FFXVI team is comprised of many members from the FFXIV team, and Yoshida explained that the transition happened toward the end of developing Heavensward. As work on Stormblood began, director Hiroshi Takai, scenario writer Kazutoyo Maehiro, and system designer Mitsutoshi Gondai all moved to a small core team to begin work on FFXVI’s scenario.
Yoshida said that Takai was the right choice to direct because he couldn’t spare the time to do it himself, and Takai had supported him during the development of A Realm Reborn. “Back in the very beginning when we were rebuilding FFXIV, it was Takai who told me I should also work as the game’s producer. Takai is the sort of person who can think on his feet like that and say what’s on his mind — the sort of person everyone can get behind. So when I asked him what he thought about directing FFXVI, he said, ‘It’s definitely a big responsibility, but so long as you’re there to back me up as producer, I’ll give it my best shot.’ That’s a major part of why he was selected,” he said.
He also talked about the concept of FFXIV in relation to the perception of the Final Fantasy franchise as a whole. Yoshida has since gone on record saying that Final Fantasy has to adapt and diversify in the modern era. In this interview, he talks about asking fans about what they want from the franchise and getting so many different answers.
“Being in charge of FFXIV has seen me skipping around the globe, having countless conversations with fans and gamers,” he told Game Watch. “There are all sorts of things that players in countries outside of Japan think about and anticipate from Final Fantasy. However, their responses contain a daunting degree of variation. When you stop to think about it, it’s only natural. Each Final Fantasy title features a different world and lore, a different battle system, different characters, and a different overall sense of direction.”
Yoshida also related a comment from veteran Final Fantasy director and producer Yoshinori Kitase when he took over FFXIV: “When it comes to Final Fantasy, the game that carries the series’ legacy is whichever one the director at that time thinks will be best. Therefore, you shouldn’t let anything hold you back.”
Following that comment, Yoshida decided that FFXIV should be a celebration of everything Final Fantasy, pulling from every entry in the franchise as needed. Since then, the MMORPG has referenced heroes and concepts from Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy XIII, and more.
“After hearing those words I decided to position FFXIV as a fan service title, and because it belonged to the MMORPG genre, I was able to run with an idea nobody had ever tried before and create a sort of Final Fantasy theme park,” he explained.
Towards the end of the interview, Yoshida talked about the differences between FFXIV and FFXVI. The former game, being an MMORPG, is about long-term planning while the latter title needs to be delivered in a “perfect state.” For him, that means his focus is firmly on FFXVI at the moment.
“FFXIV is a title that plans far into the future and executes that plan incrementally. I think MMORPGs are games that let you enjoy yourself in the present while anticipating what lies ahead,” he said. “Of course, we’ve also got plans for what we’ll do later down the line, but in my mind, I’ve really flipped the switch from FFXIV to FFXVI.”
Final Fantasy XVI is scheduled for release on PlayStation 5 sometime in summer 2023. Final Fantasy XIV just released Patch 6.2, which includes the Island Sanctuary, the new Pandaemonium Abyssos raid, and a brand-new Trial with connections to a classic Final Fantasy game. You can keep up with all of our coverage of FFXIV right here on the Linkshell!