Happy Birthday! 25 years of Final Fantasy

It’s one of Japan’s biggest gaming exports and has sold over 100 million units worldwide. In January 2007, it was listed as the third best-selling video game franchise in the industry. It’s branched from role-playing games to tactics, action, MMORPG, third-person shooter, fighting and rhythm genres. And it’s just about to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The series has been both commercially and critically successful and is synonymous with quality, innovation and visuals. It’s also a huge brand that goes beyond games and into merchandise, jewelry, perfume, concerts, soundtracks and even movies. It is, of course, Final Fantasy.

In its 25th year, Square Enix has already released two games, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, digitally re-released the most popular entry, Final Fantasy VII, for PC and Square Enix announced it was rebuilding its latest MMORPG after disappointing fans. What else does the firm have planned for this mammoth franchise?

We’re preparing to unveil a Final Fantasy exhibition here in Japan,” said Square Enix’s senior executive managing officer Shinji Hashimoto. Plans for anniversary projects in Europe and America are also underway and we’d like to extend an invitation to all our fans to celebrate this special year with us.”

There’s already a teaser site online hinting at a possible new entry to the Final Fantasy XIII series, the PS3 exclusive Final Fantasy Versus XIII is still in development and there’s surely something more to that impressive tech demo from this year’s E3.

What’s impressive is that an essentially Japanese franchise has managed to gain commercialsuccess worldwide.

Perhaps it’s the avid enthusiasm the creators have invested in the Final Fantasy titles and the desire to realise exciting new elements in the series which has captured the imagination of players everywhere.

There could be a variety of different factors involved as to why it’s done well in Europe especially. A couple of important points to consider would be carefully localising the game and ensuring there is as little difference as possible in the release dates across Japan, Europe and America.”

With the launch of Final Fantasy XIII-2, DLC was introduced for the first time in the main series adding costumes, new story sections and bosses to fight in the game’s coliseum area but it didn’t always go down well with fans.

Each batch of DLC we released for Final Fantasy XIII-2 was received differently by players. However, this helped us to learn and deliver better results. Our goal now is to pay strict attention to user needs while planning future DLC releases.”

Final Fantasy has a reputation for being a very pretty franchise. But Hashimoto hopes there’s more to Final Fantasy’s legend. Although we talk about Final Fantasy as a franchise, it’s important to consider the different producers and directors behind the games, all of whom have left their mark by evolving the series in their own ways.

The tactical style featured in Final Fantasy XII’s battle system or the fast-paced fighting found in XIII have all contributed to the many assets that have accumulated and allow the series to flourish up to now. We intend to continue with this evolutionary approach to keep taking the series forward.”

New Final Fantasy continues to come thick and fast, and with its stunning E3 tech demo, it appears Final Fantasy will stay in the leading for a while to come.

The tech demo we revealed at E3 is one indicator of the direction the series is taking. I believe we have continued to explore every possibility for advancing the series while always scrapping and rebuilding the Final Fantasy design,” Hashimoto added. This is also something very unlikely to change in the future.”

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