When Hajime Tabata took on the role of director of Final Fantasy XV in 2012, one of his first decisions was to conduct an analysis of the current state of the Final Fantasy brand in Japan. The results were not promising, with Tabata saying in a new interview that the franchise was considered a "dying IP that had already peaked."
"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," he says in the latest issue of Game Informer. "The brand image of Final Fantasy wasn't really clear.
"The reality is not that the situation is OK or in favor of us. Rather, it is more grave and serious than we had initially thought," he added. "The way we understood Final Fantasy after our analysis is that it was a dying IP that had already peaked."
This being the sentiment, you might wonder why Square Enix would go forward with Final Fantasy XV. Tabata said he believes fans continue to have faith in the developer to make something great.
"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 explained.
Tabata went on to mention three "core" qualities that he believes define the Final Fantasy brand. As described by Game Informer, these are:
- "A willingness to challenge the status quo"
- "An exceptional, out-of-the-ordinary experience"
- "Cutting-edge technology to use the hardware to the fullest"
The last game to meet all three was 1997's Final Fantasy VII, according to Tabata. He also contends that Final Fantasy XV will rise to the occasion.
"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."
Go to Game Informer to see a video interview with Tabata where he goes into further detail.
Final Fantasy XV launches in September 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A PC version could come later, but nothing has been decided. For more on all the announcements from the recent "Uncovered" event in Los Angeles, check out this roundup of stories and this collection of trailers.