Final Fantasy is the universally acclaimed series of the now Square Enix. Created by Hironobu Sakaguchi as a last-ditch effort, Final Fantasy title came from Sakaguchi’s feelings stemming from that time that if the title does well, he will remain with the gaming industry and it didn’t, he would’ve quit the industry and would’ve gone back to university. Many publications despite Sakaguchi’s claim also attributed the title to then Squaresoft’s allegedly facing bankruptcy.
The game was a huge success for Squaresoft and it turned around the fortune of the company and Final Fantasy became the flagship franchise. Squaresoft immediately developed a second installment for Final Fantasy. Since Sakaguchi assumed that Final Fantasy would be a stand-alone title, it’s story was developed keeping that in mind so it doesn’t expand into a sequel. The developers of the second title instead chose to carry over thematic similarities from its predecessor, while some of the gameplay elements, such as the character advancement system, were overhauled.
This approach of Squaresoft (now Square Enix) has continued throughout the series with each major Final Fantasy title featuring a new cast, new setting, with only similarities tying to the previous titles being the name of items, magic, Aeons/Summons and a few non-major characters as well as the continuation of the numbering in Roman Numerals. Final Fantasy X became the first major Final Fantasy title to receive a direct sequel titled Final Fantasy X-2. Final Fantasy titles have been released regularly by Square Enix however the time between the releases of Final Fantasy XI(2002), Final Fantasy XII(2006) and Final Fantasy XIII(2009) have been longer than the previous titles released.
Final Fantasy XV (previously known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII) is an upcoming new Final Fantasy title for the next-generation consoles; the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Originally intended to be released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 system before moving on to next-generation consoles with a title change, Final Fantasy XV has been in development since 2006. Final Fantasy Versus XIII was the most hyped title between gamers as it moves away from traditional role-playing titles in the Final Fantasy series and introduces Action role-playing genre to the series.
Seeing the previous releases of Final Fantasy titles (from Final Fantasy VII onwards), Square Enix has launched their titles on the consoles with an install base of over one million. Mainline Final Fantasy games are extremely front loaded and sell the most in week one of the release.
FFVII: 2,034,879 / 3,277,776 (62%)
FFVIII: 2,504,044 / 3,501,588 (72%)
FFIX: 1,954,421 / 2,707,301 (72%)
FFX: 1,749,737 / 2,323,463 (75%)
FFXII: 1,840,397 / 2,322,329 (79%)
FFXIII: 1,516,532 / 1,904,313 (80%)
figures courtesy of NeoGAF user, vicissitudes.
What all this means is that at the time of the release of a Final Fantasy title, the platform it’s on must have a sufficiently large install base. Square Enix cannot release a main line Final Fantasy title on a small install base as the title does not sell well past first week.
A mainline Final Fantasy game (since PlayStation One) has never been released on an install base lower than 4 million. The smallest install base on which a Final Fantasy title was released was of PlayStation 3’s with 4.3 million at the time of Final Fantasy XIII’s release (previously it was Final Fantasy X with PlayStation 2’s install base of 4.2 million).
Since Square Enix has poured a lot of time and resources into Final Fantasy XV’s development, it is possible that at the time of its release, they would want to match at least Final Fantasy XIII’s sales in order to back their development costs. Since Square Enix has said that Final Fantasy XV will be the most highest profitable Final Fantasy title to date, it is to be expected that they are speculating over 5 million units to be sold in week one.
Coming back to install base of consoles, PlayStation 4 will be released in February 2014 in Japan as opposed to November 2013 launch in the West, it would make sense for Square Enix to at least wait for the PlayStation 4 to reach 4 million install base in Japan before releasing Final Fantasy XV. Final Fantasy XV is also coming to Xbox One but seeing how PlayStation is more popular in Japan than the Xbox, hence the install base of PlayStation 4 is speculated to take over Xbox One’s easily.
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The question is, how long will it take PlayStation 4 to reach 4 million units in Japan? If looking at the fastest selling console by Sony, PlayStation 2 took around 65 weeks to reach 4 million units in Japan. If the PlayStation 4 sells as fast as the PlayStation 2 in Japan then it will reach the 4 million mark around May-June 2015. However there are other factors in play as well for the PlayStation 4, that is, the software lineup for the platform. PlayStation 4 is being launched late in Japan because it doesn’t have anything great or big to offer the Japanese market. PlayStation 2 already had a few games out by its time and its predecessor, the PlayStation One, was already successful. Taking this into consideration we can assume that PlayStation 4 might take around 90 weeks to reach the 4 million mark which places it around December 2015. If we use the best case scenario then the earliest we can see the release of Final Fantasy XV for the Western markets would be sometime in 2016.
If, however, PlayStation 4 takes the same amount of time as PlayStation 3 to reach 4 million mark, it would take around 160 weeks which places the date somewhere around May 2017. But let’s hope that its not the case as Sony have learned from their mistakes and arrogant behaviour they showed with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 is shaping up to be a great console.
4 million install base or not, it would be wise for Square Enix to also take into the considerations, the feelings of the fans who have awaited a whole generation for the title to be released. It would be wise not to disappoint them with more delays and also by not releasing a half-baked version of the title.
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