Acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV may not be hitting Xbox consoles any time soon, according to the game’s director.
FF14 On Xbox, When?
On Wednesday, the Washington Post released an interview featuring director and producer of FFXIV, Naoki Yoshida. In it, information was revealed regarding the game’s development process, its life cycle, and more. However, one piece of news caught Xbox gamers’ attention: an Xbox port may not be possible for a long while.
“We provide content on a fairly regular basis and our cycle is rather condensed. And it is a fairly stable cadence that we continue to follow. We have to think about long-term planning with additional platforms, we need additional testing for that particular platform. So it kind of exponentially grows the amount of resources that needs to be allocated,” Yoshida said in the interview.
In short, the team working on Final Fantasy XIV does not have enough resources to port a working Xbox version of the game. Let us break down why that may be.
Clarifying Square Enix’s Development Teams
As many know, Square Enix is a giant publisher in the gaming world. They have sectors from East to West that work on tons of projects. Square Enix Japan has multiple development teams working on the Final Fantasys’, Dragon Quests’, Kingdom Hearts’, and so on. Creative Business Unit III is the internal development division within Square Enix headed by Naoki Yoshida. Not only does Creative Business Unit III develop and maintain FF14, but also Final Fantasy XI, another MMORPG. They are also developing the next main entry Final Fantasy title, Final Fantasy XVI (FF16). Click here for a more detailed look at who worked on what and when.
While many see Square Enix as this one huge publisher and developer, they have multiple development teams working on more than one project at any time. So instead of asking, “Why can’t Square Enix port FF14 to Xbox?”, a more accurate question is, “Why is Creative Business Unit III unable to develop an Xbox version?” It is unclear how many people work at Creative Business Unit III.
With the apparent workload the studio is under, it could be possible that resources would be strained if they decided to make an Xbox version. Keep in mind, we are not talking about just porting the game to Xbox’s newest consoles, the Xbox Series X and S. What if Square Enix or Xbox lead Phil Spencer want the game on prior Xbox consoles as well? That would include porting and testing the game on Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X along with the XSX and XSS. In all, the project to move the game onto Xbox consoles could be more effort than it is worth at this point in time.
Spencer Said, Yoshida Said
In November 2019, an article posted by Eurogamer announced Phil Spencer said about Final Fantasy 14, “And while it’s not in the news today, I wanted you to know, rest assured, that we will be bringing that game to Xbox.” So, discussions were definitely happening, but nothing was concrete from the developer side yet. Fast forward to summer 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, in which Japanese media Game Watch interviewed Yoshida. They asked about an Xbox version, to which Yoshida responded:
“I’ve been having a conversation with Phil for about three and a half years. Phil comes to Square Enix about once every six months, so he talks a lot by email and in person. When I first talked about it, it was a time when Xbox’s cross-platform play policy was still very rugged and “user retention” was still the base strategy. ‘The device is just the device, and the important thing is how the community grows and what the community chooses,’ was the first opportunity for dialogue,” he said. “The current FFXIV is a DirectX 11-based game, so even if you develop the PC version, you will have to support DirectX 12 somewhere. He also actively advises and cooperates in that area. If there is a follow-up report, I will let you know.”
So again, nothing incredibly sound, but discussions are looking positive. Now at the beginning of 2021, making an Xbox version is not high on their priority list. Rather, working on the current version of the game for PC, Mac, PS4, and now PS5 (a platform with an already dedicated user base on PS4 that are offered a free upgrade), along with working on the next expansion Endwalker, AND developing FF16, is. All of this while under the working conditions of the pandemic.
While some may consider Yoshida’s most recent quote to be dishonest, I could not disagree more. When he was put in charge of the game’s reboot with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, he made it clear that communication and honesty between the developer and the community are the keys to the success of the game. That is why Yoshida, along with another developer, host Letter from the Producer live streams that last up to five hours detailing the game’s patches, updates, and having discussions. What other developers do that sort of thing?
There is a reason why the community is so loyal to Yoshida. His honesty, integrity and dedication to make a great MMORPG is unmatched. During their recent announcement showcase, Yoshida said he considers FF14 to be his life’s work. These words should not be taken likely. A documentary from Noclip does a fantastic job displaying the dedication and passion Yoshida has for the game and its community. Square Enix’s CEO is also on board with growing the game as much as they can. In the Washington Post interview, Yoshida says, “Even now, our CEO is encouraging us to strive for more players and for 30 million adventurers, and he still has future plans for us.”
As of July 2020, the game is sitting pretty with 20 million registered players across PC and PS4. With the upcoming PS5 version and a possible future Xbox release, hitting 30 million players is certainly within reach.
Can Xbox Help?
The questions, “Can Xbox help port FF14?’ and “Why can’t Square put additional people onto Creative Business Unit III?” may have the same answer. For one, developing an MMORPG requires different or particular skills to make it right. You would not have Naughty Dog, a developer known for single-player narratives, help develop the next Street Fighter game. Perhaps the situation is the same with Square Enix. Their other internal studios may not have enough experience working on an MMO to help port the game. Perhaps Xbox cannot provide their resources since they are working on their own slate of games. At this point, it is anyone’s guess.
It is also no secret that the Xbox brand is weak in Japan as opposed to their competitors. Square Enix Japan has always developed games with the PlayStation and Nintendo hardware in mind due to their multi-year relationship. Xbox has started that steep trek to be included in those conversations, but they still have a ways to go. Getting the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts titles on Xbox Game Pass is a good start.
Second, game companies are restricted to the working conditions of the pandemic. FF14‘s Patch 5.4 and 5.5 were already delayed in the past, so it would not surprising if talks between Spencer and Yoshida halted as well. So, can an Xbox version of FF14 happen? Absolutely. It may not happen right now, but I would not count it out. If Phil Spencer keeps pushing and if Xbox fans consistently show they want this game on their console of choice, I have no doubt the game will come to the platform. Head over to the official Final Fantasy XIV forums or their Twitter to make your voice heard.
As an avid FFXIV player, I want nothing more than for that to happen. Final Fantasy XIV is one of my favorite games of all time. I would be ecstatic if more people get the opportunity to experience it. However, I understand Yoshida’s reasoning. Rather than straining his team, he is considering the workload that goes into these things. It is not as simple as people like to make it. I seriously doubt there is an underlying “muahaha” from all of this to keep the game on PlayStation consoles. The Washington Post interview provides a very clear lens into FF14‘s development, so I would advise giving it a read before casting judgment.