FFXIV's Naoki Yoshida on a Diablo crossover, Xbox release & Sakaguchi
Day one of London's Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival ended in spectacular fashion, as the game's director and producer Naoki Yoshida (colloquially known as Yoshi-P) sat down to speak to journalists in a press conference.
Just two months ago it reached a decade since FFXIV was unequivocally rebooted with the release of A Realm Reborn, and Yoshi-P had much to detail about the past ten years and some thoughts on the future of the incredibly popular MMORPG too.
FFXIV x Diablo crossover
One of the most intriguing talking points from the press conference was the reveal that Yoshida's 'dream crossover' would be with Blizzard's Diablo series:
"I've mentioned this in the past, but I'm a huge Blizzard fan, so if we could make it work then I would be so happy to see some sort of collaboration with Diablo."
I wouldn't recommend getting your hopes up too much though, as while there's no better time for a collaboration to happen with the fourth entry in the series releasing earlier this year - Yoshi-P does seem to indicate that the two might not be the ideal mix.
"As you all know, Diablo has quite a hardcore graphical outlook in terms of the world [...] and in terms of the ratings, it might be a bit difficult. Of course, on the other hand, we really don't want to disappoint fans of the franchise. If we go for a softer version of Diablo in XIV, maybe that's not what people want as well."
Getting crossovers right in Final Fantasy XIV is something that Yoshida is very keen on, as he sees it as something that is good for the industry as a whole. The ideal collaboration in his eyes is one "in such a way that fans of both franchises would be happy," and that is often achieved with more than just a few items here and there.
Yoshida states that "if it's something that will make [Final Fantasy] XIV players happen, then we would definitely want to go through with it."
Who crosses the collaboration bridge?
For a game with so many collaborations, it is quite intriguing to wonder if the intention is coming from inside the studio, or whether teams reach out to Final Fantasy XIV instead. Unsurprisingly, it is a mix of both - depending on the property - as Yoshida details:
"So if we take the case of Monster Hunter as an example, I discussed directly with the producer Tsujimoto, and also the founding creator of the Monster Hunter franchise Fujioka. This was something that I had planned out in my head for a long time, so I initiated that discussion and carried it through.
But there are other cases. For example, in the case of Fall Guys, it was [their] team that raised a proposal to us. They wanted to have some sort of collaboration with us [...] and we replied and said, well hey, we love Fall Guys as well, so we would definitely be interested."
Things do become a bit more astute when it comes to in-house collaborations though, as it is understandably a little easier for XIV's director Yoshi-P to have a conversation with Final Fantasy XVI's producer Naoki Yoshida.
Despite this, you shouldn't expect too much when it comes to the crossover with XVI - at least at first - as Yoshi-P expresses his concerns that he wants more players to experience the most recent main-line entry in full before bringing everything to the MMO:
"We are still working on the PC version, and I think there's still quite a few people who have maybe only just bought the PS5 version and haven't played XVI yet. So, for any elements that involve [elements later in the game], we don't have plans on introducing that yet.
So, for now, I hope you can make do with Clive and Torgal, and if I manage to get some time to talk to Final Fantasy XVI's producer again, then maybe I can pitch the idea of doing more of a grander crossover."
Bringing Eorzea to Xbox
The arrival of Final Fantasy XIV on Xbox consoles has been long awaited, and thankfully we are finally getting to experience it for the fist time in the new year. While players on Team Green are certainly delighted, it appears that a certain director is among the most jubilant in response to the news:
"I myself am quite a diehard Xbox gamer, so I think of anyone, probably me and Phil Spencer are the happiest.
I know that not many Square Enix games have been released on the Xbox platform, and that's probably caused envy amongst Xbox fans. So, it makes me happy to see that the dream I had for a long time in order to deliver the gaem to many more fans is now coming to realisation. I think it's fantastic."
A warrior's initiation
Finally, one of the biggest highlights of the weekend was the omnipresence of the father of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, as he attends his first Fan Fest since becoming a Warrior of Light.
When asked whether he ever thought that Sakaguchi could commit to the length of the game's lengthy narrative that spans four (and soon to be five) expansions, Yoshi-P certainly expressed some reservations:
"MMOs are really long, and it takes quite a bit of time to get up to the latest content in the game. Considering how busy Sakaguchi is, there was a discussion in the dev team [where] we were just wondering 'hmm, how far will he go?' We were waiting with bated breath to see how far he would progress."
Of course, having the man who was at the start of it all play through what Yoshida has described as 'a theme park of sorts' for the Final Fantasy franchise is really quite special.
"We're talking about a franchise that has a history of 35 years, and he goes on a picks up each element. It makes us realise that what we've been doing for the past 10 years and the past 13 years really resonates in a way with the fans, and that also serves as a source of motivation for us in our development."
More is definitely still to come in the years ahead though, and there is certainly a lot to look forward to with the new Dawntrail expansion releasing Summer 2024 too.