Final Fantasy XV Director Hajime Tabata feared that the venerable JRPG franchise was a dying brand when he took over the project back in 2012.
Speaking during an interview with Game Informer (via GameSpot), Tabata-san revealed that one of the first tasks he went about doing was conducting an analysis of the state of the Final Fantasy IP in Japan—and the results weren’t exactly promising.
"The gravest situation of all was that, at the time we were starting Final Fantasy XV, we didn’t see an increase in new fans of the franchise," said Tabata-san. "The brand image of Final Fantasy wasn’t really clear.
"The reality is not that the situation is okay or in favor of us. Rather, it is more grave and serious than we had initially thought," he continued. "The way we understood Final Fantasy after our analysis is that it was a dying IP that had already peaked."
"One thing I’ve felt from fans is that they are disappointed in the current state of Final Fantasy, but still have hope in terms of where the brand could go," he said.
Tabata-san then outlined three core principles that he feels have defined the Final Fantasy series. They are as follows:
- "A willingness to challenge the status quo"
- "An exceptional, out-of-the-ordinary experience"
- "Cutting-edge technology to use the hardware to the fullest"
Apparently, the last game in the series to successfully achieve all three was 1997’s much-loved Final Fantasy VII. However, Tabata-san remains confident that Final Fantasy XV can step up to the task.
"Any Final Fantasy released after [Final Fantasy VII] lacks in one or the other," he explained. "But what Final Fantasy fans desire is a new entry that encompasses all of these elements, and that is our objective with Final Fantasy XV."
Final Fantasy XV is scheduled for a worldwide release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 30, 2016. The game is well known for its arduous development cycle, which originally saw the project announced nearly a decade ago as the PS3-exclusive Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
Square Enix recently shed light on its decision to remove the character of Stella from Final Fantasy XV, who was originally a companion to protagonist Noctis.