It's been six years since Square Enix first showed Final Fantasy Versus XIII's debut trailer. Six long years. When that trailer premiered, George W. Bush was president, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were alive, and the global financial crisis had not yet hit. 2006 was a different world, a long, long time ago.
Now Kotaku has learned that Final Fantasy Versus XIII is no more.
Kotaku has heard from several sources that the game, as originally intended, is done for.
Update: According to Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada, Versus is still in development.
One source tells Kotaku that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was officially cancelled within the last few weeks. The decision impacted morale at Square Enix and staff were reportedly saddened by the move.
Square Enix, this source added, has also decided to let Final Fantasy Versus XIII die quietly on the vine and fade away, instead of officially announcing its cancellation. This would likely be due to the fact a public acknowledgement of a Versus' cancellation could impact things like Square Enix's stock prices.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII has been M.I.A. for the past few months, save for the occasional, brief mention. Earlier this spring, Final Fantasy Versus XIII designer Tetsuya Nomura spoke with Japanese game mag Famitsu about the title, which has only ever been seen in trailer and screenshot form.
"We're almost done with preparing the latest info for the game," Nomura told Famitsu. "Because of a totally unrelated reason, there are circumstances in which that info cannot be released."
That was March. Then in May, Nomura once again commented on the game, saying to Game Informer, "We would like to ask for your patience on an official announcement for this title. It always takes time when tackling the challenge of doing something completely new, but we are doing our best to bring information to the fans as quickly as we can. Your patience is greatly appreciated."
Then E3 came and went with no sign of Versus, which wasn't that strange if you remember the game was not at last year's Tokyo Game Show either.
Whatever happened to the game over those six years—whether it underwent radical changes or simply couldn't come together—it seems Square Enix has finally decided to cut its losses.
Another source tells Kotaku that, a few months back, Final Fantasy Versus XIII's development and resources had actually been folded into another game, which is to be the next numeric Final Fantasy title, Final Fantasy XV. Whether this meant actual game assets and code or simply the movement of staff was unclear. This information was independently corroborated by yet another source, though it's important to note both had learned of the "folding" prior to the more recent news of its outright cancellation.
The Final Fantasy XIII branded types have not been set in stone: another spinoff title Final Fantasy Agito XIII had its name changed to Final Fantasy Type-0. So what was originally planned as an entire mini-franchise by Square, with multiple titles spanning various platforms, looks now to be focused on the adventures of Lightning.
Whether it's been cancelled entirely or had resources absorbed into a newer, larger project, the game we once knew as Final Fantasy Versus XIII would seem to be no more. Even if Final Fantasy Versus XIII has been cancelled, I'm inclined to believe that whatever Versus was, or whatever had been created for the game, will turn up in some form in Final Fantasy XV. Surely, Square Enix would not cancel a game and completely dump all the work it's done? Right?When Kotaku contacted Square Enix about whether or not Final Fantasy Versus XIII was still in development, the game maker released the following statement: "We have no information on the status of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but will be sure to update you as it becomes available." Keep in mind, I wasn't asking for an update per se, I simply asked if Square Enix was still making a game it had already announced six years ago. Square Enix did not reply to Kotaku's requests for clarification regarding whether Versus was still in development or not.
Square Enix has a Final Fantasy event coming up in Tokyo in late August and September. One of the stage events is centered on the Final Fantasy XIII Project and the Lightning saga (so a Final Fantasy XIII-3 reveal?). None of the announced stage events center around Final Fantasy Versus XIII, something that Japanese gamers were quick to point out on game sites and blogs.
So, is Final Fantasy Versus XIII finally and officially dead? Without confirmation from Square Enix, we can't say for sure. While these reports certainly indicate the long-awaited game has been cancelled, Square's reluctance to acknowledge them means those desperately wanting to see more of the project still have a glimmer of hope to hold onto.
But if the game fails to make an appearance at either the upcoming Final Fantasy celebrations or the 2012 Tokyo Game Show? Then yeah, given what we've heard (particularly of Square's reported desire to kill the game quietly), you'd be a lot safer assuming Versus XIII is kaput and start looking forward to the next big FF game.
Update: In 2013, this rumor was proven true. Final Fantasy Versus XIII became Final Fantasy XV.