Final Fantasy games should drop the numbers, even Yoshida thinks so
The Final Fantasy games use of a numbered entry system could be dropped after Final Fantasy 16, as a producer on the series acknowledges how it can be confusing for new players, between the many different RPG game universes, the MMO, and even spin-offs as well. While this won’t change before the Final Fantasy 16 release date, it looks like it’s been brought to Square Enix before.
Talk of the numbered entry system comes from Final Fantasy 14 and Final Fantasy 16 producer Naoki Yoshida, who’s aware of how it can be confusing to new players and turn them away from specific mainline entries and spin-offs in the series.
“A lot of players are going to come in and they’re going to look at it like a comic book where you have to read from the beginning to know what’s going on now. It’s hard for marketing because for every numbered title that we release in the series, we have to go into it like, ‘It’s OK, you don’t have to play the rest of them,’” Yoshida says in a GQ interview.
For all of us longtime fans, Final Fantasy’s many releases make absolute sense, as each number basically translates to an entirely different universe. So Final Fantasy 7 and 16 are filled with different histories, lore, characters, and ideas. This is also clear at a glance when you realize one is a steampunk setting and the other fantasy, but for new fans, it can be really confusing. So getting rid of the numbers has actually been put on the table before.
“That’s actually something that I’ve discussed with the higher-ups,” Yoshida tells GQ. “Maybe it’s about time we removed the numbers from the title. For example, you have Final Fantasy 14. You get a new player coming in and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, why do I have to play Final Fantasy 14 if 16 is out?’ Why don’t we just call it Final Fantasy Online – just get rid of the number altogether, and that’ll make it easier to understand.
“Whether Final Fantasy 17 or Final Fantasy 18 should have a number or not – that’s going to be on whoever has to develop that game and whoever’s in charge of the branding, so that’s their problem, not ours!”
While the image of Yoshida resigning himself from having to deal with the problem puts a massive smile on my face, he raises a very good point. Things start to get even muddier when you realize there’s a Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy 13 sequel that flips the name to Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII, and a slew of spin-offs as well.
In terms of following a set structure, even Final Fantasy as a whole is a mess, so anyone entering for the first time is going to leave with a headache. Anyone that’s stuck with the series gets it, and that’s great, but it does tend to create confusion when you’ve got an MMO on top of some vastly different RPG experiences.
The PC future of Final Fantasy 16 remains a bit up in the air right now too, as vague information was eventually cleared up to confirm that it will not be released six months after the PS5 version. Yoshida says it will come out a while after that six-month exclusivity period, so it’s going to be 2024 at the earliest.