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Find Out About the Future of Square Right Now (Updates Complete)

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I'm at a press conference all about the future of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts and who knows what else. Here we go....

I'm one of about 200 people in a conference room at the Marriott near E3.

They've got banners here for Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III.


But we're starting with Naoki Yoshida, producer of Final Fantasy XIV. A Realm Reborn comes out this August. 27 for PS3 and Windows; 2014 for PS4. We're watching a long trailer that includes airship captain Cid Garlond. Yoshida had wanted us to take note of how good the game looks despite being an MMO. And, yes, it looks like a PS3 game, I'd say.

"We believe that while an MMO RPG, Final Fantasy XIV retains the heart and soul of a Final Fantasy game," Yoshida said. "We can say with confidence that a Realm Reborn is the highest-quality MMORPG you will find on the PlayStation 3." Data from PS3 version can be carried over to the PS4 version.


And that's it for FFXIV.

Time for FFXV. We're seeing the trailer from last night. The trailer had shown a modern setting, what looks like real-time combat.

Here comes Shinji Hashimoto, brand director for Final Fantasy, to tell us more. "I was so excited that I had difficulty falling asleep last night," he tells us. "I'd like to remind you that even for us it's a huge amount of joy that we were finally able to announce Final Fantasy XV. Well, everyone is talking about the next-gen consoles at this year's E3. FFXV is being developed with a tool called Direct X 11. With this tool it's possible to port the title to various hardware. Following yesterday's announcement [for PS4] we would like to announce that we are porting Final Fantasy XV to Xbox One as well."


We're about to see an in-engine trailer.

"This is a fantasy based on reality," the trailer reads. Our black-haired hero is fighting guys on the walls of a skyscraper. Drops down to a plaza and swings a sword that'd make Cloud envious. A blonde friend shows up and shoots an enemy. And then black-hair is running around, kicking and slashing soldiers. This is all in real-time. We're seeing a montage. It looked really fluid and very good. We'll be able to show it to you shortly.


No release window for FFXV, but it was notably not mentioned as being part of this fiscal year, which ends on March 31 of 2014. Not surprisingly, you can expect it some time after that. A month, a year? Who knows!

And now we're on to Yoshinori Kitase, producer of Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster and Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. He's telling us about how the FFX remakes will be on Vita and PS3, to delight those who haven't played them. And he boasts that Lightning Returns is both new and challenging. Sprawling open-world map. "This is the ultimate Final Fantasy for the current-gen system."


Kingdom Hearts III time. Hashimoto is back to first introduce last night's debut trailer.


Now to Yosuke Matsuda, president and CEO of Square Enix. "As a fan I am also looking forward to Kingdom Hearts III," he tells us. And says he'll wait for news on it, too. He acknowledges a guest from Disney, Disney Interactive co-president John Pleasants. They shake hands. Pleasants is thrilled to have everyone here. Reminds us that Kingdom Hearts is a series of role-playing games that have thrived for more than a decade. He's talking about how important Kingdom Hearts isn't just a big game but also a success

"We will see a mature Sora who will go off on new adventures with Mickey, Donald and Goofy," he says, adding that the game will take players to Disney worlds seen and yet unseen in the series. No release date, though obviously PS4 is assumed since it was shown at that press conference. The game will also be on Xbox One.


Switching to a Q&A with Hashimoto...

Former Kotaku reporter AJ Glasser wants to know if FFXV and KH3 will not be released in Japan for Xbox One, believing there was a policy against that. Nope, Hashimoto says, worldwide for Xbox One and PS4.


Next question: is FFXV the start of a series, a la FFXIII? Hashimoto says more information will come at a later time, but notes that because FFXV is so large, "many stories may come at a later time" (implying spin-offs or DLC or something.)

Next questioner wants to know about change from FF Versus XIII to its current incarnation as FFXV. "It might be similar to the previous answer," he said, "As you know Versus XIII was created as part of the Fabula Novalis epic. While development was going on, the content and world expanded. To deliver in an appropriate way to the fans we figured this might be the perfect time to evolve the title to XV for the next-gen consoles."


Questioner wanted to know how far along XV is, but Hashimoto said it was too early to say. "Development is moving forward," he said.

A reporter asks if Square will give Xbox owners a way to catch-up on the Kingdom Hearts mythos, since KH3 is the first Kingdom Hearts on an Xbox. "We don't have any plans yet," Hashimoto said, recommending that people could look to some of the movies and books to get the history.


A question about the development teams... Hashimoto said the main staff remains and that he had actually played Versus XIII on PS3. "We have added more excellent staff."

Questioner wants to know if XV is a sign of a move to more action-oriented gameplay in the series. Hashimoto points out that FF change their game systems all the time. There is an "action-packed" game system in this game, but that doesn't mean there will be one in the next one.


A questioner asks if it's hard to turn-based battle systems now. No, Hashimoto said. Questioner press: can you still make a multi-million dollar production that is based on the classic turn-based model? (The implication is that that's a harder mass-market sell.) Hashimoto: "I believe there is a future for both action RPG and command-based RPG," he says.

A question about which development team is working on the new Kingdom Hearts. "We do have many teams at Square Enix, but there is a team in Osaka who have developed a game that is launching in September called Kingdom Hearts 1.5... that team is working on it."


Any female playable characters in XV? That came from a questioner who said that the FFXV cast seemed to be all male and was wondering if Square was concerned about alienating their female fanbase. "The contents of the game re not discussed by me," Hashimoto said, before asking his questioner which female characters he liked. The questioner liked Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Hashimoto said he liked the question and would take it back to the team.

I asked if any particular older Final Fantasy games informed this new one. He said that was a better question for the game's developers. And I asked if, given, Square's past support if there were any plans for a Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts for Wii U. Because the new games are being made on Direct X 11, he said, "we just have to make sure the game can be appropriate for the tool." This one appeared to be lost in translation, sadly, as I wasn't asking about those new games but about the series in general. Sorry, Nintendo fans, I tried.


Show's over.

P.S. Square PR says that the cool gameplay trailer they showed for Final Fantasy XV actually won't be available until 3pm Pacific. Argh! Soon is a relative term.