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"Final Fantasy Disease" Infected Square Enix, Says FFXV's Director

Reflecting on the game’s storied development, Final Fantasy XV Game Director Hajime Tabata has offered up a frank assessment of Square’s prized JRPG franchise, claiming many developers and fans suffer from a state of mind that he refers to as “Final Fantasy disease.”

In a back-and-forth interview between Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada and Tabata for 4Gamer, Harada asked if there was "backlash" internally when Tabata took over as the game's director in 2012.


"Oh yeah, there was," Tabata explained, according to a translation from Kotaku. "It wasn't only from inside the team, but outside as well. The reason was that if my way of doing it ended up working, there are those whose circumstances will worsen."

According to Tabata, many developers and fans believe that Final Fantasy games must fit a certain style or format, based on previous titles and often react negatively to proposed changes made to characters, gameplay and other aspects of the series.

"Around that time, I realized that among fans as well, there are people who've caught FF disease," he stressed.

So what is Final Fantasy disease? "It refers to people within the company who can’t imagine anything other than their own view of Final Fantasy," Tabata says. "Since the root is a strong self-affirmation, one’s own view of Final Fantasy takes more priority than the team’s success."

"If that view of Final Fantasy isn’t fulfilled, then they’re convinced that it’s bad for Final Fantasy," Tabata continues. "They think, 'Since Final Fantasy is a special team, then we are also special because we are making it. When the new Final Fantasy comes out, everybody is going to be so into it.' But that’s not the reality of the situation, is it?"

However, despite its long-standing history, Tabata said change was a key aspect to revitalising the series. "Because of that, there was a time I told off the team, saying, 'We're not special. Wake up'," he said. "Yet, I realized that when Final Fantasy XV news was made public, this wasn't only inside the company. Everyone has FF disease."

He added that "if the series didn't modernize", then, "it could've been done for."

 

This isn't the first time Tabata has offered some frank comments on the state of the Final Fantasy brand. He said in April 2016 that, when he took over as director on the project, 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. Tabata said the franchise, at the time, was considered a "dying IP that had already peaked."

Why go on with Final Fantasy XV if that was the case? 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 at the time.

Well for me, ever since the FF series has shifted to a more action oriented gameplay, I think that was the start of the Final Fantasy series having a disease. Don't get me wrong. I'm fine with having an action oriented gameplay on an FF game, but I think Square-Enix has emphasized on "too much action" on its recent FF games, to the extent that the FF series has become MOSTLY an action game rather than an RPG/action game. What do you think guys? Do you agree on the "Final Fantasy disease" that Tabata is talking about?

Related Game(s): Final Fantasy XV

5/25/2016 1:55:13 AM Drew Constantino

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Legacy Comment System (23 posts)


Trixta09
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 2:30:01 AM
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First comment. Whoohoo. I don't think the action was what made the recent entries bad. Even tho I will say i do miss the turn-based combat. But linearity is what pulled me away from the franchise. And also with the whole Part 2 and 3 deal just kinda annoyed me. I started seeing the franchise as now a rushed product and just baiting people to buy it with the FF brand so SE could make more money. The stories were boring. The characters had their moments i guess. but nothing really impressive like Cloud or Zidane, etc. I guess I was expecting something like FFXV to come along with the recent FFs and didn't get that. it felt like they strayed from what really made it awesome. I am excited for FFXV tho

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 10:57:38 AM

Now you get the opposite, a huge open world and no women.

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Oxvial
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 3:03:18 AM
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He added that "if the series didn't modernize", then, "it could've been done for."

After that I stopped reading, guy delusional, series almost done for doing those modernized changes.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 10:56:46 AM

Yeah, they infected it in the first place.

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shadowpal2
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 4:53:07 PM

"Modernizing" is definitely ok - but that does not equate to losing the DNA of final fantasy which was originally a wonderfully told Turn-based RPG.

You can have open world mechanics - driving and etc. - but changing up the gameplay is not "modernizing" it as it is just "westernizing" it.

Oh well...

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 3:33:12 AM
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It's all a matter of expectations... Everyone has a favourite Final Fantasy & many of us differ in which games we rate highly and lowly. On this site, i see a lot of people plead for the turn-based combat, which has never been essential to me, I have no issue playing games like NieR or Kingdom Hearts which are more action focused in regharsd to the combat, nor do I have an issue of XV becoming closer to that route.

For me, what I really want from a JRPG is an adventure - I know I just wrote this on the Star Ocean topic, but it really is core to the experience for me. Having a story follow a set of characters on the their travels, getting to know them and see their confrontations with each other as they put them aside for the same objective. I find the JRPG form of gaming the best way to present an adventure, more so than movies or even books. XV has already set this with the road-trip backbone to the games structure and I just love it, really looking forward to playing it in 4 months time :)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 10:56:19 AM

Problem for me is it looks very western, not so much JRPG.

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SayWord
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 1:41:39 PM

This is an amazing comment Vivi! Cannot agree more.

@World, definitely feels like a JRPG.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 3:51:04 PM

I hear ya about liking Nier and Kingdom Hearts. I love those games, too. The problem for me, though, is that I love KH for being KH... Nier for being Nier... and Final Fantasy for being Final Fantasy. Just as I loved Heavy Rain for being HR or Uncharted for being Uncharted.

I don't need Final Fantasy to become like another game I already like. I already have Kingdom Hearts. Those games exist. What made Final Fantasy popular for well over a decade? It was popular across multiple generations. It's clearly not a "tech" issue. So what made FF so popular?

If you can answer that, then focus on that. Stop this whole "make it like other popular games" nonsense.

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gumbi
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 9:55:47 AM
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If "modernizing" Final Fantasy is defined as "converting it into an action game", then that IS the disease. This isn't just modernizing a game, it's full on switching genre's. The Final Fantasy brand has lost its identity.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 10:54:55 AM
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He's batsh*t crazy. The disease isn't that if we think our idea of the game is the only way it will succeed, the disease is that changing the genre will make it do better.

The facts are in the sales. What kind of gameplay does better? Scores better? Fans like better?

It will be fun to discuss scores and decisions and sales and everything if PSXE is still around then. See if those in the tank for it can still defend the problems in the demos.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 5/25/2016 11:03:44 AM

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xenris
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 11:58:51 AM

Even with traditional combat though, each FF game was selling less than the previous numbered entry after FF7.

FF9 is considered by most one of the best in the series, most variety, lots of side quests, and was made with the help of Hironobu Sakaguchi the father of Final Fantasy.

This has sold the least out of ALL the PS1 FF games.

The only exception for sale spikes is when a new FF game released on a new console, FFX saw a huge sale spike, every entry on the PS2 after that sold less. FF13 in my opinion the worst in the franchise sold a lot more than FF9, but each sequel after that sold less and less.

Point is people were losing interest, the proof is in the numbers.

HOWEVER, I don't agree that they needed to make it an action RPG, they could have made it a hybrid or something.

But Final Fantasy is not its combat system, it is the worlds, the characters the story the music and the sum of its parts that makes a game FEEL like a Final Fantasy.

I think FF15 hits these notes, and I liked the combat in Duscae, it just takes getting used to.

You are quite confident that it is going to be terrible, which it very well could be, but a lot of people enjoyed the demos, I realize the flaws in some of them but it is hard to judge a game by its demos.

For example I played the Batman Arkym asylum Demo and was like great another flopped Batman game. Then my dad knowing I love Batman got it for me as a surprise so I played it while he watched and man the demo didn't even close to do it justice.

Anyway time will tell, and I'm sure that forum will be around the haters and supporters can put their gloves on and have a back and forth about it when it launches :P

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Underdog15
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 3:56:06 PM

Yeah, but FFVII and FFVIII sales are sort of, top of the line kinds of sales numbers. FFIX sold less, but it still sold 5.3 million. That's still a tremendous success. It's not the same as dropping from 7 as a peak (in FFXIII across all platforms) to 3 to just under 1. You know?

Don't forget, FFX jumped back up to over 8 million as the second highest selling FF of all time, next to FFVII. And FFXII did well in the 5-6 range, as well.

I don't think sales over 5 million really signify gamer disinterest.

What we haven't seen yet is how the changes to sales will happen at the start of a new generation. The new PS1 saw FF sales spike huge to over 10 mil with VII. Then the start of PS2 jumped up to over 8 mil. Then FFXIII with the new generation leaped forward again up to 7-8 mil. It'll be interesting to see if XV will again see a massive uptick in FF sales with a new generation, or will it more or less flop?

That will be the most telling for me.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 5/25/2016 3:59:01 PM

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xenris
Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 12:39:22 AM

But All of the jumps from the next gen consoles were less, and in terms of a corporation they are considered failures. They need to see improved profits to be considered a success, its the sad nature of corporate publishers, of which Square is.

That is why we didn't see them as failures but they were dropping in sales and it was apparently affecting there earnings and shareholders.

Plus each generation the game costs way more to make and they were selling millions less, so the profits even lower.

Remember I don't think those numbers are bad BUT a corporation would. I also don't think they should have drastically changed the combat system although I like FF15s combat, it wasn't needed in my opinion.

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BlinkBoy
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 12:30:59 PM
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It may be FF Disease, but I think it is in game design and trying to renew everything in one game. I don't remember much of the characters from FFXIII. When I finally met cactuars and chocobos I was like, oh so this is a final fantasy game! It had simplefied automated cooldown based battle system.

I like both turn based and more action oriented JRPGs. Dark Cloud games have a simple hack n slash style, but the focus in those games are really not on battle but more on inventions/synthesizing and georama/town building. I mean, after you clear a dungeon for monsters, you can play a golf like game in there.
Sorry, this is about the state of Final Fantasy as a brand not so much about gameplay styles so I'll stop here.

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Hexen
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 3:29:35 PM
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The sooner XV releases the sooner I can stop hearing about it.Trails of Cold steel II might release around the same time so I'm very pumped for later this year.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 4:00:35 PM

Hate to disappoint you, but FF articles on all sorts of sites won't disappear once this game releases. ;P

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Hexen
Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 12:01:08 AM

Yeah who am I kidding, I expect it to dominate headlines months after it's released.Both the new Square Enix defenders and haters will be colliding for some time.

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Underdog15
Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 3:15:06 PM

For decades.

I'm also thinking that with the other FF branded titles on handhelds and that cutsy turn based one with the giant heads on itty-bitty bodies, it'll keep coming up over and over every time they try to cash in on brand recognition.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 5/26/2016 3:16:14 PM

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Solid Fantasy
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 @ 9:01:05 PM
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How long has it been since we had AAA or close to AAA rpg with a turn-base system AND a rich story with colorful characters? Would it really be that much of a risk to take a page from an older format? No one else is doing it so it's not like you competing with anyone.

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Beamboom
Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 9:58:56 AM
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So, when is Ben going to comment on this? C'mon Ben, get over here and start typing, your FF rants are a staple of this site. Don't stop now! :)

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wackazoa
Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 11:37:01 AM
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I kind of agree with Tabata. The issue with Final Fantasy games is that they have this mystique. And if the last 100 years of social change hasnt shown, people dont like change very much. Now go and change their entertainment, something they WANT to enjoy, and you can run into problems.

FF13 wasnt a bad game. It just had the Final Fantasy name, and there were certain expectations that people put on that name. Call it anything else and Im pretty sure the vitriol thrown FF13 way wouldnt have been as intense. Just like the new Ghostbusters film. If they change the city, change the car and uniforms, and alter the story a bit to make it as if the original Ghostbusters did so well that it franchised/inspired different groups to pop up in the other cities of the world/america it would probably make a good movie. If they do what it looks like, and just reboot it as Chick Ghostbusters, then they get the backlash they get.

In the end, Square makes the game. So they can take it in whatever direction they want. Change isnt bad, and if you go into it with an open mind then it might not matter if it is like any of the old Final Fantasy's.

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Underdog15
Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 3:25:28 PM
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I sort of like comparing this to sports. I'm a bit of a sports fan. Played 2 sports at university level, and one of my majors is in Physical Education. So it stands to reason that I generally like most sports.

I'm best at soccer and volleyball, but I really love baseball a ton and I enjoy basketball, too. And although I don't have much experience with other things, I've enjoyed playing football, hockey, golf, and a bunch of other things. I even like the "indy" titles, if you will, like dodgeball or soccer-baseball (kickball).

Similarly in video games, I like rpg's, both action and turn-based. I like action, adventure, some puzzle games and platformers. I liked whatever you want to call Heavy Rain, and kart-games like Mario Kart, Modnation Racers, and Crash Team Racing. I like some sports games, like MLB The Show, and I've enjoyed the occasional party game, too.

But you know... I would be really upset if a less popular sport like Volleyball wanted to be as well liked by the US and the rules started getting changed into more of a contact sport like football. I would also dislike it if golf was turned into a race through 18 holes or if football became non-stop like Rugby.

I just don't think it's unreasonable for video game fans to want titles and established franchises to remain true to what it is at its core. And maybe that means it just gets less popular and should be put away forever, and we should just let these companies move onto something new. But these franchises got to where they are for a reason, and people expect them to be a certain way within reason.

And I don't think they're all that unreasonable for thinking so.

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