Final Fantasy XV – What Took So Long? Dark History: Episode 3
Articles Blog

Final Fantasy XV – What Took So Long? Dark History: Episode 3

October 10, 2019


The development history of Final Fantasy XV
has been… troubled, to say the least. From switching consoles and changing directors
to a secret Final Fantasy game that was being developed by a Western company. It’s finally here but the big question is:
what took so long? It’s no secret that the development of Final
Fantasy XV has take a long time. 10 years now, to be exact. A change in title, story, directors, engines,
consoles and hierarchy would put even the most efficient game company to the test. Square Enix, however, is not the most efficient
game company. Far from it. These changes resulted in delays all the way
up to August 2016, when it was announced that the release date was being pushed back, yet
again. This game has switched so many things at so
many different times that it should be a launch title for the Nintendo Switch. Seriously though, How cool would that be? Square Enix’s previous main entry into the
franchise, Final Fantasy 13, failed to capture the hearts of its core audience. Unfortunately for Square Enix, they had 2
other games planned for release around that title (aside from the direct sequels). FF Versus 13 was one of these projects. Up and coming director Tetsuya Nomura, who
made a name for himself after the surprising success of Kingdom Hearts, was chosen to be
the director in 2006. Nomura is incredibly ambitious. He immediately set out to make something big
and new, including an emotional depth that did not exist in other Final Fantasy games. This being only a spin-off, he had the freedom
to make it happen. He got his core Kingdom Hearts team together
and they got to work. By 2010, after FFXIII had come out, Square
started to rethink their strategy. Interest in the Final Fantasy franchise has
been waning for more than a decade now, and after Final Fantasy XIV was released to awful
reviews, they knew that they needed something special to revive the name. It was clear that, while Final Fantasy XIII
was reviewed well and sold over 6 million copies, it was not the masterpiece they had
intended it to be. After renaming FF Agito XIII to FF Type-0,
the question then became, “What to do with Versus XIII?” It had a moldable story that could be changed
into a standalone game, if need be. Square had on and off talked about making
it the next Final Fantasy game, though nothing was decided on for sure. It remained a spin-off game for the next several
years. Development started on the Crystal Tools game
engine for the PS3. This became a problem when everything had
to be migrated over to their new Luminous Studio engine for the PS4. To do this, they used DirectX 11 software. This meant that they wouldn’t have to compromise
on quality when porting the game to other systems, such as the X Box One. Switching consoles and game engines is no
easy task, but with the life of the PS3 shortening, and no end in sight for the project, they
had no other choice. French gaming publication Gamekyo reported
that Nomura had plans to make Versus XIII into a trilogy. He and his team constantly ran into problems
that nobody knew how to solve as he continued to expand the project, as opposed to scaling
back and focusing on one specific story. The trailers we kept seeing were mostly conceptual,
and hadn’t yet been implemented into the broader story. They were awesome scenes, for sure, but there
was little substance to accompany the flashy artwork. It seems that Square executives were very
aware of the trouble Nomura was having, but also the incredible potential his ideas had. They continued to let Nomura have his way
until December of 2012. It was here that several big decisions were
made. It was finally decided that the game would
abandon the XIII title and become the XVth main entry into the Final Fantasy Series. Given the new direction this game would take,
executives at Square Enix began to feel uneasy about having Tetsuya Nomura direct what had
become such an enormous project. In fact, one day in December, Nomura charged
into Square’s offices with the brilliant idea that FFXV could become a musical. A musical. Yeah, you heard that right. He had just seen Les Miserables, which came
out in Japan on December 21st, 2012. Talk about Dark History… a musical FF is
about as dark as it gets. It’s unclear if this impacted Square Enix’s
decision to replace him as the director or not, but we know one thing for sure. In that same month Hajime Tabata, who would
eventually take over completely, was brought on to co-direct the project. Changing directors, as well as which system
and engine the game was going to run on, set the project back a ways. Not only was Hajime Tabata added to the team,
but writer Kazushige Nojima and producer Yoshinori Kitase were taken off. Things were changing, and though Tabata tried
to stay true to the initial vision, much of what Nomura had originally intended did not
survive the restructuring. Tabata also reshaped the entire hierarchy
of the development team, putting everyone on equal footing. This was a big deal, especially for a Japanese
company. Hierarchy is heavily ingrained in the Japanese
culture, so many of the senior developers didn’t take kindly to this new work format. Ultimately, Tabata feels it was the right
decision that has spawned greater creativity among the teams. Final Fantasy Disease, as Tabata calls it,
is a real thing. When a video game company has an IP that is
deemed their most valuable, the employees who work on it feel like they’re the top
dogs in the company. And they’re right, to an extent. The problem is, when these top employees have
their own ideas about what Final Fantasy is, and what a Final Fantasy game ought to have
in it. When developers have such strong opinions,
they begin to reject new or original ideas on the basis that it’s not “good for the
series”. Tabata wanted to break away from this line
of thinking, which he felt has plagued the more recent Final Fantasy titles. Collaborations have increasingly become a
bigger part of Square Enix’s strategies. They struck a deal with Avalanche Studios,
creators of Just Cause, to work together on the Airships for FFXV. Square Enix ended up talking to them, learning
how they worked around certain issues, and implementing it themselves. Square would have had a difficult time implementing
Avalanche’s actual software this far into production. So the formal collaboration was called off
after Square Enix got the information they wanted. No word on how Avalanche felt about the way
that whole deal went down. Speaking of collaborations with other companies
I actually want to take a break here to talk about two western companies who have been
directly involved in making Final Fantasy games. One, you may have heard of. The other, is only now being revealed. I’ll start with the company Grin, who developed
a spin-off game to Final Fantasy XII called Fortress. It had been coming along nicely, with some
beautiful concept art. Yet, after a year or two, Square Enix pulled
their funding and cancelled the project. The company went out of business as a direct
result, with the CEO citing a “betrayal” from Square Enix. Now, what does a canceled FFXII spin-off have
to do with FFXV? Well, you’re about to find out. What happened with Grin was unfortunate, but
worse for Square, it was public. Square Enix wanted to avoid the bad press
again, if at all possible. Their solution? If they owned the company, they could keep
a lid on this sort of stuff. In 2009, the year that Grin filed for bankruptcy,
Square Enix bought Eidos Interactive. As Square was still unsure about the direction
FFXV should go, they had an idea. How about letting a western company make a
main-line FF game? They could then market it as the first western
developed FF. This would likely have been FFXV, as what
is now called XV was still Versus XIII at the time. At this point, I would like to introduce you
all to Project W. FFXIII Lightning Returns director Yuji Abe
stated in 2013 that Eidos could possibly develop a Final Fantasy game in the future. What he did not mention was that Eidos had
been developing a main-line Final Fantasy game for years. According to an anonymous source of ours with
knowledge of the project, Project W was going to be a different kind of Final Fantasy. The studio that made Deus Ex was deemed more
than qualified for the task, and Eidos Montreal started to develop, in secret, a Final Fantasy
game. The artwork you are now seeing is not from
that game, but is close to the original concept art. A great deal of the game was to take place
in outer space, but not the vacuum of space we know it to be. Instead, characters could sail airships into
an outer space full of detail; shapes, colors, patterns, abstract geometry, and clouds, with
planets interspersed throughout. The artwork was mesmerizing, and the game
seemed to go into a fantasy world that is very, very far removed from reality. It was so extensive that even Weta Digital,
the VFX company behind The Lord of The Rings, was involved in conceptualizing this new Final
Fantasy world. Then, in 2013, Square canned the entire thing. The whole project disappeared, never to be
heard of again. (until now) The General Manager and Founder of Eidos Montreal
resigned shortly after the project was canceled, citing irreconcilable differences with Square
Enix; though it’s unknown if his resignation had anything to do with Square’s handling
of Project W. Final Fantasy XV, as we now know it, is to be an emotionally deep game;
“a fantasy based in reality”, as Nomura calls it; though, I can’t help but wonder
what Final Fantasy XV would have been like if Eidos had been allowed to follow through
on their project. Who knows, maybe it’ll get picked up again,
and Square Enix can finally have their aptly marketed “western developed Final Fantasy.” Until then, we’ll just have to wait. Square made the decision that FF Versus XIII
would become Final Fantasy XV, instead of the Eidos developed Project W, and began moving
forward. The path ahead, though much clearer now, still
had a few more hurdles to overcome. The story was reworked, some characters were
taken away, while others were added. The game missed it’s September 2016 release
date, electing instead to come out in November in order to fix a few problems that came up
late in development. Their media mix approach, including phone
games, an Anime series and a feature film, shows that they’re going all in on this
world. This truly could be the next great Final Fantasy
game. With the turbulent history of this game’s
development, it’s no wonder it took 10 years to complete. Even as early as December, 2012, Square was
still unsure which direction Final Fantasy XV should take. Whether to appeal to a western audience, allowing
a western company the opportunity, or to turn an earlier spin-off into a standalone title. Not just any title, mind you. This is to be the Final Fantasy that brings
the IP back to the forefront of the gaming world. The road to this point has been rocky, to
say the least, but after all the delays, changes and restructuring as a result of this game,
Square Enix is finally set for the release of their next masterpiece. Here’s to Final Fantasy XV, and whatever
else the future has in store for the Final Fantasy franchise.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. that final fantasy that is supposed to take place on space? Yeah it has been released secretly code name No Man's Sky 😅

  2. TL;DR

    – Square Enix are business pricks
    – Still Gods tho
    – Tabata also a God for dragging them away from the XIII mindset

  3. I a m not normally one to comment on a video, but I just wanted to tell you guys how fantastic yours are. I can only imagine how much work went into this series. So thanks for the energy and effort. In my humble opinion, it paid off!

  4. Don't you ever worry. Marketing strategy will ensure the financial success of FF15. In fact… Marketing strategy will ensure the financial success of everything.

  5. The concept of Project W sounds a lot like Treasure Planet to me lol. At least in terms of how they dealt with the space travel and the "air ships".

  6. "This truly could be the next great Final Fantasy game"
    Damn I hope it is. The last great one, at least for me, was IX. X and XII didn't do anything for me, and I found XIII's story terrible. I don't play MMO's so I skipped XI and XIV, so I can't comment on those two. I want Final Fantasy to be great again, and I will be purposely avoiding all reviews so I can go into XV with an open mind and make up my own mind about it.

  7. Casen, you should consider a video about the Wii U, now that's confirmed out of production and the Switch its in the horizon. Keep up the good work. You guys have become my favorite gaming channel.

  8. The most intelligent thing SE did with FF15 was to give the people the anime and the movie. Specially the anime gave the fans the chance to bond with the characters (for free). We did not play the game yet but we know a lot of the characters. Their childhood, hobbies, how they became friends etc. The movie gave us information about the world, Luna etc. Normaly, when you start a game you know nothing but this time we are already familiar with everything. That means, if something happens in the game it will be more sad/funny/cooler for us, cause we have formed a relationship with them. Remember that a lot of people did not like Prompto but after the anime he became our cinnamon roll. I wish I could play the game. I waited 10 years but can not afford a PS4 now. 🙁

  9. just finnished the story, not sure what i feel about it, can't give a description of what since its spoiling but…. yeah

  10. Never been interested in FF15 all those years, couldn't give a damn. However, as it gets close to release, i suddenly became super hyped! So weird.

  11. I think it's important to note that something happened in the structure of Square beyond the over ambition and bubble-headedness of it's team leads. As a big fan and player of FFXI and XIV, I was acutely aware of what what going on with them and why 14 was such a big disaster. And it was especially noteworthy that CEO Wada, FFXI/XIV lead Tanaka and XV director Nomura all lost their jobs at about the same time. And people who are far more open and taken a more western tack to development, like YoshiP and Tabata, gained power in the company.

  12. I feel like 15 is gonna get the same treatment that 13 in terms of reception. It's gonna be a good game with some flaws but the flaws being blown out of exaggeration and people trying their hardest to hate on the game and make the "perfect example of why the franchise is dead" it's already spreading like wildfire on this board

  13. Finally some detailed info about the subject of Final Fantasy XV/Versus XIII. After so much digging even I couldn't reach this kind of information. Nice channel you got here man, keep it up 🙂

  14. good video, thank you DP : ).

    but i really cant agree with the "FFXV is a master piece" opinion : /. i think XV is just NOT like a numbering FF game. maybe it is better to be regarded as a spin-off like…..type zero or sth

  15. Can't wait til XV-2 is announced. They are going to have to announce it, because there is no way XV can sell enough to recoup 10 years of dev costs.

  16. Not sure what to trust. They get some info wrong, like the main reason why it took so long is because Nomura had to put Versus XIII on hold to work on KH spinoff games.

  17. Wasn't the blonde girl pink haired at one point? and wasnt' there a "villain in a mask" which was likely the girl (an overdone trope in anime & probably a storyline that the other developers realized wouldn't work)?

  18. would've been nice to add that nomura was overworked in the time SE developed vs13 because he was literally loaded with work on numerous kh titles,"the world ends with you,different collabs,etc. He even said himself that he is given more and more work and that he doesnt have as much energy as he used to when he was younger,Square didnt pull the plug on nomura nomura himself KNEW that ff15 wont release under his control and passed the directors seat WILLINGLY to tabata who was "very passionate" about the vs13/ff15 project.
    And while I do actually like ff15,I would've also liked to see a vs13 game with the much darker tone. Here's hoping for a new vs13 game/edition.

  19. Does anyone know where one can buy the Super Metroid OST?? (It was featured in this video)..I love those pieces and would love to own them. Thanks (hopefully??) 😶

  20. Just found your page and I want more Dark History Videogames. Love the channel as this is a very nice change in videogame history instead of the same things you watch from different channels. Keep it up!!!

  21. Watched until 3:56 then stopped. You either didn't do enough research or you're intentionally spreading misinformation. This video needs to be remade with correct information.

  22. While the brand of Final Fantasy probably should not be associated with it, a musical RPG sounds like an interesting idea. I think the musical part should be a purely narrative device and not a minigame, cough Atlantica cough.

    Not sure how it would work, but being a fan of musicals and RPGS, it could be interesting. Then again, it could be a mixing peas with porridge problem, as well.

  23. Your content is really good and very informative. Just a suggestion, but what about a video that talks about theories regarding the connections between the games in FF series? (beyond crystals and chocobos)

  24. Where do you get your information from..I remember watching this project getting made when KH2 had just came out and a lot of what you said sounds like it came out your ass

  25. I want to make this clear once and for all, because I respect your channel and I find it excellent. I was the one who discussed translating Xenogears Perfect Works with someone on the staff here. Anyway, the rumor that Nomura wanted to turn FFVersus into a musical is an absolute mistranslation of what was actually printed. What Nomura actually said, and I quote, was that he "Wanted to incorporate musical elements to the battle system, similar to what was used with FFX-2." — That's it. That's ALL he said.

    Furthermore, when people say FFVersus was a 'concept', with no actual development, I want to state as a former employee (I can prove all credentials upon request) that an ENTIRE alpha of the game for Playstation 3 was actually completed in its FULL PLAYABLE FORM. There was a completed ALPHA. Furthermore, the entire script was finished, fully, and only began being tweaked every other month when he was told to scale the "Versus Epic", original three game deal, into a single game. This is when the massive rewrites happened.

    That being said, and having intimate knowledge of the original Versus project, as being involved with it during the PS3 era, I can say without legal trouble that, in my personal opinion, it was greatly superior, both in story, graphics, gameplay, mechanics, and music…..than what Tabata hacked together and was hailed as a 'savior' for doing. He essentially took a massive, monumental, state-of-the-art, FF and chopped its story and gameplay into absolute watered down trash. To this day, Nomura and Tabata despise one another, and the teams are not allowed to even see one another because of the animosity that is STILL festering over what many view as the greatest betrayal in the company's history to a fellow, respected senior developer.

    And that is why Nomura is currently in Osaka with his on team, no longer on FFVIIR, and is going TO FINISH THE VERSUS ODYSSEY.

  26. FFXV was mediocre at best. I just played and "platinumed" it this year. It was pretty disappointing. It clearly didnt know what it wanted to be. Man, I really wish Fortress would have been continued as Ivalice is my favorite FF world.

  27. "There was little substance to accompany the flashy artwork."

    That sums up Final Fantasy/Square for the last 10 years.

  28. Watching this video more than a year after FFXV was released, it wasn't worth the wait. FFXV was such a disgraceful mess. While Square wasted resources on the side content (like the pointless movie that covered things that should have been in the game) they left the game in a half baked state with boring combat, lopsided exploration, and a story that was only saved from being the worst Final Fantasy story because FFXIII exists. Even still, you could see how the game could have been great if not for Square's utter bungling of the development.

  29. it would have been the next great FF game, IF they had given us the full fucking game instead of ripping out the side character stories & selling them as DLC, Square has gone down the EA path, Square is dead to us.

  30. "Here's to final fantasy XV and whatever they have in store for the final fantasy franchise!"

    >Nov 2018
    >Hajime Tabata resigns and almost all announced DLC scrapped.

    Ayy lmao. Now we're gettin somewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *