Final Fantasy XIII is just a few weeks away for gamers in North America, Europe and Australia, the debut game in Square Enix's grand Fabula Nova Crystallis project. What does the future hold for the trio of Final Fantasy XIII games?
Let's first talk about the past, when Final Fantasy XIII began life as a PlayStation 2 title. The game's director, Motomu Toriyama, says that the PS2 version of the thirteenth Final Fantasy game was in development for about a year, with the demo level "Hanged Edge" playable on the previous generation PlayStation.
The game never moved past the development of basic mechanics and the battle system, Toriyama says, with XIII switching to the PlayStation 3 after the current-generation console was announced. A tech demo was built and the platform switch was essentially complete.
Now that Final Fantasy XIII is, nearly four years later, for all intents and purposes, done... what's next? Not downloadable content, says the game's producer, Yoshinori Kitase.
"For Final Fantasy XIII, specifically, we're not considering any downloadable content," Kitase told Kotaku, ruling out even minor additions like downloadable costumes for the Final Fantasy XIII cast. "We feel that we've created a complete package with Final Fantasy XIII, so 100% of the game is present in the packaged product."
"But that's not to say that for future Final Fantasy games we won't consider downloadable content," Kitase added. "The development teams are very interested in looking into what can be done for future titles. We're definitely open to considering that."
While he didn't mention it by name, Kitase may be referring to the next games in the Fabula Nova Crystallis trilogy, the more action oriented Final Fantasy Versus XIII and handheld entry Final Fantasy Agito XIII. The former is still currently announced as a PlayStation 3 exclusive, as Final Fantasy XIII once was. The latter is bound for the PSP, formerly planned for release only on mobile phones. Square Enix continues to evaluate the video game market for those titles, but wouldn't share "any exciting new announcements" with us about its plans.
"For the Fabula Nova Chrystallis series as a whole and the future of the Final Fantasy series in general, we definitely see that the global market has been evolving," Kitase says. "At this time, we don't have any change to the plans for what's been announced for games like Agito or Versus XIII, but depending on how things go in the future we'll continue to adapt to create games best suited for the market."
Unlike Square Enix's other bestselling RPG series, Dragon Quest, which made the leap from PlayStation 2 to Nintendo DS and Wii, Kitase sees the main Final Fantasy series sticking to higher-definition consoles.
"In terms of Final Fantasy in general, the teams are really aiming for movie quality graphics and really dramatic storylines," he said. "For now, at least, consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3 are the best place for this kind of cinematic experience to take place. We don't feel that it needs to transition necessarily to a handheld platform."
As for the immediate plans for Final Fantasy XIII, the game's creators simply hope the new title resonates with fans.
"Our hope is that XIII will become as loved by fans as Final Fantasy VII is," said Toriyama. "We think that one of the reasons that Final Fantasy VII really stood out was because of the futuristic setting of the game. Similarly in XIII, we really mixed the fantasy world with the futuristic world. It's a brand new world that no one's really ever seen before. That's something that players will be excited about."