Final Fantasy XIII arrives at last

The four-year wait for a sequel to the critically and commercially successful Final Fantasy XII is over at last with today marking the arrival of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII at retail across the globe.

The Final Fantasy brand remains one of the most important in gaming, with a loyal fanbase that’s arguably unrivalled by any other. It’s also one of those rare IP that enjoys cult followings in both the Eastern and Western markets.

Square Enix rocked the world of gaming when in 2008 it revealed that FFXIII would be released on Xbox 360 as well as Sony’s PS3 – an announcement that sent the fanboy world into meltdown.

Though the series’ first six iterations were released on Nintendo’s machines, since the epic success of FFVII on PSOne in 1991 the brand had been one of Sony’s most important exclusives (bar MMO title FFXI). Some fans saw the decision as a betrayal.

Countering that, of course, was the prospect of Square Enix tapping into a whole new Western market with the Microsoft version – an ambition perfectly demonstrated by the still often-discussed decision to draft in X Factor star Leona Lewis to front the advertising campaign.

The appetite for the 360 version grew further still when the publisher confirmed that the game would be released simultaneously on both formats.

Everyone will be keeping a close eye on how sales divide between the two formats. PS3 is on the up right now and looks likely to enjoy its best ever year in 2010 – but sales favouring Xbox 360 (as some have predicted) would provide a massive PR tool for Microsoft.

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