Final Fantasy XV’s development famously stretched the better part of a decade. Its long cycle paid off; the game’s release last year was the most successful launch in the series’ history, as well as the fastest-selling. But as with the very first Final Fantasy, Square Enix treated this entry as though it could have been its last. “If it didn't succeed, it would all be over,” director Hajime Tabata said today during GDC 2017.
“It meant approaching the project believing this was our last chance. If we don't do it this time, there won't be a next time.”
Previously, Tabata worked on titles such as Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Type-0. Square Enix announced that Tabata had taken over the troubled project in 2014. He described the undertaking of Final Fantasy XV, as compared to this past projects, as climbing a mountain (Mount Denali, to be exact).
The path to what would lead to Tabata — and Square Enix's success — is not nearly as glamorous as the series' dire straits would make it seem. Tabata emphasized throughout his talk that setting clear and high goals, recruiting talented developers, and relying on strong teamwork shaped the project. “My story is really simply about the challenges I took on with my teammates,” he said. “...My team and I are fighters.”
Some of the greatest challenges the team faced as the project neared completion weren’t related to development at all, but rather retailers who broke street date and the spoilers that followed. Now that the game has released, Tabata said the team has a new goal in sight. He declined to give details about exactly what that is, though a presentation slide teased “new adventures.” The game’s first major DLC hits later this month.
“My story about Final Fantasy XV is not a success story,” he said. “I don’t have any magical expertise from this undertaking, but I know now the greatest goals can only be reached by taking big chances.”