Superstar Final Fantasy XIV Producer’s First Square Enix Game Canceled

Naoki Yoshida, the man often credited with spinning Final Fantasy XIV around after the miserable launch of the MMO and who is now in charge of bringing the next one Final Fantasy XVI alive, wasn’t always the superstar we know him now. In fact, the seniors at Square Enix canceled Yoshida’s very first project at the company.

Speak with We Are Vana’dielthe official Final Fantasy XII community site, Yoshida discussed his experiences during the 2003 merger between Square Co. and Enix Corporation, then separate role-playing games. Yoshida was a third-party developer working with Enix on an online PC game when the two companies decided to join forces.

“As a result, we were told that the game might not remain a PC exclusive, and sure enough, after the merger actually happened, we were told to rework it for the PlayStation 2,” Yoshida told Yoshida. Final Fantasy XII producer Akihiko Matsui. “There was already a huge difference in memory capacity between PCs and the PS2 back then, so honestly I thought, ‘You’re kidding, right?'”

Sure enough, the move from PC to the much less powerful PlayStation 2 created a whole host of problems for Yoshida’s game. He was eventually invited to meet with Square Enix executives to provide a full rundown of the issues facing development. They had high hopes for him, Yoshida explained, and original Final Fantasy XII Producer Tanaka Hiromichi, in particular, was willing to give him the support he needed to get the game back on track.

Unfortunately, the project was simply not intended as Square Enix kept asking for more features. A sales meeting decided that the game needed a brand new scenario mode, sparking discussions within the company about how to get the news to Yoshida’s team after already asking them for several changes. Instead of continuing to rework the game, it was put on indefinite hold.

While Yoshida didn’t elaborate on this, in a recent interview with Game Informer he briefly described this canceled project as an ambitious role-playing game in which collaborating with fellow players was key to seeing the different branches of the overall storyline.

“You would follow this one path, and then you would have to team up with someone else who went through a different history, or there was an item you had to get to change your trajectory, but that item can only be obtained from someone else, said Yoshida.

Stories like this are a dozen in the industry. Developing games can be a fraught process of starting and stopping, and often even the most polished products are held together by duct tape and dreams. We will probably never know all the games that never saw the light of day. But something about a man as highly regarded as Yoshida sharing his experiences of failure seemed meaningful to me. Here’s a guy overseeing both Square Enix’s online today Final Fantasy games, while also guiding the iconic franchise’s next single-player adventure, and even he wasn’t safe from interference and cancellations early in his career.

Despite this setback, key people at Square Enix saw something in Yoshida, which led to the future Kidney series producer Yosuke Saito to bring him on board as an official employee in 2005. From there, Yoshida would continue working Dragon Quest X (another online game by the way) and several spin-offs before being tasked with saving the failure Final Fantasy XIV† The rest is history, and according to Yoshida, his success that turned the MMO can be traced back to that scrapped project.

“That chain of events is actually one of the reasons I was determined to rebuild Final Fantasy XIV‘ said Yoshida. “Despite everything [original Final Fantasy XI producer Tanaka Hiromichi] had done for me I was unable to release the title he had high hopes for so I felt like rebuilding Final Fantasy XIV was the only way I could pay him back.”

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