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Gamasutra Interview with Hiromichi TanakaFollow

#1 Jul 28 2010 at 6:35 PM Rating: Excellent
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Enjoy!

What does Final Fantasy XIV represent for Square Enix?

Hiromichi Tanaka: As it's the latest Final Fantasy series title, we're trying to figure out what an MMORPG can bring as a game, so it's really a new challenge to us.

As it's an MMORPG, our previous title was Final Fantasy XI. That has been going on for eight years now. Of course we had as PC and PlayStation 2 as its platform [so] it's becoming quite aged now. So, we are trying to make a new MMORPG, the next generation MMORPG -- so we're really working hard for this new title.

When you started the Final Fantasy XI project, which was many years ago, did you expect to be operating it so many years later? Did you expect to be operating it while you're developing the next MMO for the Final Fantasy series?

HT: Usually the next generation of consoles will come in five years, so [at that time] we thought, "We will continue at least five years, up until towards the end of the PlayStation 2 generation." But to be honest, we're quite surprised that even the PS3 is out now and we're still continuing, and we really appreciate all the support from the users.

There's been a lot of talk in the past about the success Final Fantasy has been from a financial perspective. What does launching XIV represent from a business perspective for Square Enix?

HT: Because Final Fantasy XI has been out for eight years, it has passed its peak. So, XIV, we want it to be the next mainstream MMO for our company, and it's very important to us.

Yasu Kurosawa: Also, we will sort of try to find some kind of method of encouraging people to play both. So, we want a lot of people to continue playing FFXI as well as XIV.

You're saying you're going to continue operating Final Fantasy XI and XIV, and also try to have people interested in both, but that's proven to be a real challenge for some other companies operating MMO sequels. Do you have any thoughts on how you're going to keep that going at the same time?[/i]

HT: Since FFXI has been out of eight years, we think it's reached its time now, so obviously we would want FFXI players to shift to FFXIV. However, we do understand if FFXI players have special memories of FFXI, so there must be some people who will continue to play FFXI. So, we would like to keep of them happy, and we will try to introduce some bonus for our customers, probably from a monetary point of view.

However, of course, we will continue working on FFXI. Even after we launch FFXIV, we will still continue the development side. So, as long as the players enjoy the game, we will continue the service.

[i]These days there's a ton of free-to-play browser games and similar products for the PC and online gaming audience. Do you feel like the landscape has changed significantly? I mean, obviously, it has changed significantly since you launched FFXI. So, how do you view that competitive marketplace?


HT: I think a lot of other titles have given up challenging the monthly subscription fee market because World of Warcraft is so big. However, those microtransaction-type games, or the free games, they're good sometimes, but they're going to have a really short life. So, we still think as a huge MMO, monthly subscription fees should be the mainstream -- and this is a mainstream MMO.

Some time ago, speaking about Final Fantasy XI, you said it was close to the image you had when the series first started, the idea of similar to the original Final Fantasy taken online and expanded greatly. Does this follow in the same evolution in your mind from the old days, from when the series began?

HT: Final Fantasy XI was more like related to the first early games in the series, and it's something that we always wanted to achieve online, but we think we've done what we can do for FFXI, so with FFXIV, we're looking for a next generation Final Fantasy game -- so it's going to be quite different.

Edited, Jul 28th 2010 8:37pm by ProVenJL

Edited, Jul 28th 2010 8:37pm by ProVenJL
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#2 Jul 28 2010 at 6:46 PM Rating: Good
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good read.
thanks
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#3 Jul 28 2010 at 6:50 PM Rating: Good
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It's nice to see the dev taking time out of this crucial point of development to speak with media, but those questions are epic fail. Those are the kind of questions you ask when a game is first announced, not when it's six weeks away from being sent to a factory for packaging.

The only chunk of "real" info in there is the continued support of XI, but that's kind of a duh moment given the fact that they detailed content and add-ons to be released through December during Fanfest months ago.

Edited, Jul 28th 2010 8:51pm by Sephrick
#4 Jul 28 2010 at 6:55 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
HT: Since FFXI has been out of eight years, we think it's reached its time now, so obviously we would want FFXI players to shift to FFXIV.


It sounds to me like they would really prefer to just shut down XI and have everyone switch to XIV and the only reason they don't is because they don't want to upset potential XIV customers.


Edited, Jul 28th 2010 9:57pm by Lobivopis
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I thought of it first:

http://ffxi.allakhazam.com/forum.html?forum=10&mid=130073657654872218#20
#5 Jul 28 2010 at 6:58 PM Rating: Excellent
Quote:
HT: Since FFXI has been out of eight years, we think it's reached its time now, so obviously we would want FFXI players to shift to FFXIV. However, we do understand if FFXI players have special memories of FFXI, so there must be some people who will continue to play FFXI. So, we would like to keep of them happy, and we will try to introduce some bonus for our customers, probably from a monetary point of view.


I find this to be most interesting. Does this signal a greater slowdown in content, in exchange for a significant cut to the monthly fee? I'm sure players would have mixed reactions to this... however, playing both games would definitely be more doable if the monthly fee for FFXI was only a few dollars.
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#6 Jul 28 2010 at 7:12 PM Rating: Good
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Sephrick wrote:
It's nice to see the dev taking time out of this crucial point of development to speak with media, but those questions are epic fail. Those are the kind of questions you ask when a game is first announced, not when it's six weeks away from being sent to a factory for packaging.


Keep in mind Gamasutra isn't exactly part of the mainstream gaming media - it's specifically targeted at other game developers, not the general gamer population, so they're not going to be asking questions that gamer-oriented media would.
#7 Jul 28 2010 at 7:16 PM Rating: Good
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Quote:

Keep in mind Gamasutra isn't exactly part of the mainstream gaming media - it's specifically targeted at other game developers, not the general gamer population, so they're not going to be asking questions that gamer-oriented media would.


Ah, I was unaware of that. Then that questions certainly make a bit more sense.
#8 Jul 28 2010 at 8:19 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
Some time ago, speaking about Final Fantasy XI, you said it was close to the image you had when the series first started, the idea of similar to the original Final Fantasy taken online and expanded greatly. Does this follow in the same evolution in your mind from the old days, from when the series began?
HT: Final Fantasy XI was more like related to the first early games in the series, and it's something that we always wanted to achieve online, but we think we've done what we can do for FFXI, so with FFXIV, we're looking for a next generation Final Fantasy game -- so it's going to be quite different.


Hmm, they make it sound like they'd be heading in a significantly different direction image-wise when, on the contrary, everything looks incredibly similar to past Final Fantasy titles (e.g. more medieval, less steampunk). Not to mention it looks like one giant upgrade to XI... I think I'm missing something incredibly obvious here, I just can't put my finger on it at the moment.

Edited, Jul 28th 2010 10:20pm by w34v3r
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#9 Jul 28 2010 at 10:07 PM Rating: Excellent
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Honestly, I've always liked the medieval/classical themed FFs better than the futuristic/post-modern FFs. Airships aside.

Edited, Jul 29th 2010 12:08am by Mikhalia
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#10 Jul 28 2010 at 10:11 PM Rating: Excellent
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You know.. id love to see Kefka to randomly show up in this game. Yeah I know thats random but would still be awsome.
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#11 Jul 28 2010 at 10:33 PM Rating: Decent
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Lobivopis wrote:
Quote:
HT: Since FFXI has been out of eight years, we think it's reached its time now, so obviously we would want FFXI players to shift to FFXIV.


It sounds to me like they would really prefer to just shut down XI and have everyone switch to XIV and the only reason they don't is because they don't want to upset potential XIV customers.


Edited, Jul 28th 2010 9:57pm by Lobivopis


That really shouldn't come as a surprise at all, it would be easiest for them.
#12 Jul 28 2010 at 11:10 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's disappointing to me that he honestly thinks they've done everything they can in FFXI and that they couldn't go any further with it.

Oh well, on to the newest shiny I suppose....
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#13 Jul 29 2010 at 12:06 AM Rating: Excellent
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Honestly, I think there's plenty of room for FFXI. The near/far east, the Mithran homelands, and the Gigas homelands off the top of my head. If a level cap of 75 can last them over 5 years, the new level cap of 99 could easily last them another 5+ without breaking a sweat.

I think it just goes back to the whole "PS2 limitations" thing where there's only so much more stuff they can jam on a hard drive.

I do feel there is plenty more that could be added to XI; I think they're just bored of it.
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#14 Jul 29 2010 at 7:31 AM Rating: Excellent
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SickleSageKiroh wrote:
It's disappointing to me that he honestly thinks they've done everything they can in FFXI and that they couldn't go any further with it.

Oh well, on to the newest shiny I suppose....


This. Absolutely this.

FFXIV seems great, I'm sure it will be a lot of fun, but to me it's just another game. It just feels so... I don't know how to describe it? But it just feels like another modern hipster MMORPG. Don't get me wrong, I'll be playing FFXIV and loving it but to me it will never be anywhere near as good as FFXI is. With all of it's hideous systems, drama, unheard feedback to make things better and stupid development thanks to the developers aside, it still is such an amazing place. It has a feel to it, a feel like it was a world created to be a true world full of adventure, full of mysteries, full of stories to be told, so many diverse places to. Basically it strikes me the same way episode 4-5-6 strikes star wars fans. Yeah, they were okay, but comparing them to the originals, even though the originals didn't look as good is just unacceptable to the diehard fans.

I hate their approach which is like "Well... It's been 8 years now... Time to let it die". Honestly, if I was a game developer and had such a work of art created I would do all I could in my very being to do nothing but make it strive for as long as possible, if this meant eternity than all the better. Upgrade it, make it better, let it grow. To me, a MMORPG is like a Bonzai Tree. It starts out as a small little twig full of flaws, then you slowly groom it and cut it into something beautiful. As time goes on, it only expands, showing you more of it's true self and becoming more diverse and complex. I think FFXI is the same way, and I think it would be a shame that right when it's becoming so beautiful they give up on it and throw it away. What a **** shame!

I don't want development to end for FFXI or to even take a back seat. I'm hoping and praying that when FFXIV is released it will be EASIER for them to release new content for FFXI. There's so much more to do. I, as an adventurer in Vana Diel, want to explore new places, fight new foes, experience new stories. There's so many places left to go, like the mithran home lands, the far north, the far east, the near west. So many adventures left to have.

To me, FFXI has become my home. I look forward to FFXIV greatly but it will never be my true home like FFXI is and if they ever do give up on it? It will tell me they will do the same thing to FFXIV eventually as well. Why spend so much time and effort on something if once you finally accomplish your goals and get to the point you want to be at it's all taken away or abandoned? But I'm not saying they will do this. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Long live FFXI and Vana Diel and long live Final Fantasy.
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#15 Jul 30 2010 at 12:12 PM Rating: Good
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Very interesting that he suggested some kind of monetary incetive to FFXI players. There was some speculation about having a combined subscription fee, made problematic by PlayOnline's payment system. Do they think that reducing the monthly fee will slow the rate at which overall subscriptions/income decreases? Could be right.

@ EndlessJourney, rate up for the heartfelt plea for continued FFXI support. It's surely good that you take some time to keep SE mindful of your support. I would suggest copy/pasting that into a letter directly to them, modify if you want.

http://support.na.square-enix.com/contacttop.php?id=20&la=1

A single letter won't do it, but your surely not the only one. Respectful feedback in quantity can make a difference.
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