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Final Fantasy XVI's Naoki Yoshida thinks franchise needs newer hands

Children are the franchise's future.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

January 12, 2024

2 Min Read
Clive Rosfield in Square Enix's Final Fantasy XVI.
Image via Square Enix.

At a Glance

  • For the good of Final Fantasy, producer Naoki Yoshida believes its time for younger developers to get the franchise reigns.

Whatever future the Final Fantasy series has, one of its longtime veterans think it's time for new blood to lead the charge.

In the last episode of the IAS Game Maker's podcast, Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida said the series needs to "look to the future." The best way to do that may be bringing in non-alum staff.

A younger generation of Final Fantasy developers

"It would be good to look to the future and bring in a younger generation," he told Sony's Shuhei Yoshida. To him, younger developers and their "youthful sensibilities" would lead to a new mainline installment "that suit today's world."

He isn't the only Final Fantasy alum with this thought. Last month, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata talked about wanting his studio JP Games to foster a new generation of developers.

It was his specific desire for JP, since Square Enix wasn't entirely amenable to the idea before his 2018 exit. He also wants to work with those from outside Japan.

Bringing on new talent is an industrywide issue, particularly in these layoff-heavy times. And while Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is directed by the young Naoki Hamaguchi, he's an exception to the rule.

Yoshida's statement also reflects Japan's current crisis. Younger citizens just aren't having kids, despite the pleas of prime minister Fumio Kishida, and as of last year, the country's birth rate is below population sustainability.

As far as what "the future" is for the series, he admitted it could be anything. He suggested a younger developer jot down their immediate ideas for "the most enjoyable FF," then work from there.

"'[FFXVI] was real-time action, my FF is going to have both real-time action and turn-based battles,'" he suggested. "Or, you could go to the other extreme and return it to it's fully turn-based, pixel art roots."

Whichever direction the next mainline Final Fantasy takes, he believes it should all stem from a core element of the franchise: "[Final Fantasy] is about challenging what's been done before."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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