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Hajime Tabata wants JP Games to foster the next generation of developers

The Final Fantasy XV director is aiming to do things differently from Square Enix and hire young developers from outside of Japan.

Justin Carter

December 4, 2023

2 Min Read
Gladio, Ignis, Noctis, and Prompto in the box art for Final Fantasy XV.
Image via Square Enix.

Almost exactly five years ago, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata announced his new studio, JP Games. And his grand ambition is for his company to be a gateway studio for newer talent. 

Talking to Bahamut (spotted by RPGSite) at a recent Taiwanese game event, Tabata explained his desire to bring in young staff, particularly those outside of Japan. He also wants to JP to recreate his experience of working with international developers back when he was at Square Enix.

"[Final Fantasy] created opportunities for me to get to know game creators from not only Taiwan but the whole Asian region," he explained. "I have a strong desire to create new games with these young Asian people." 

Tabata acknowledged that doing so wasn't entirely possible at Square Enix prior to his leaving in 2018, which in turn spurred him to going independent. Things at the studio appear to have changed, since Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is headed up by Naoki Hamaguchi in his first sole director role at the company.

Now that he's running his own studio, Tabata's aimed to "create a team with freedom" before making an RPG with a similar mindset. While he'll be using his previous Square Enix experience, he wants to make games in a different way from his youth, in turn evolving the genre. 

"The RPG is a genre with a great potential," he noted. "I also had a desire to create a development team with more freedom, and it feels like people that share the same thought gradually gathered here."

Tabata wants his studio to help restore his developer status

JP Games is currently at work on an MMO-like project and a console RPG co-developed with another company. It's also at work on middleware dubbed the Pegasus World Kit, which has tools specifically to help with developing RPGs. 

By Tabata's accounts, there's a greater sense of freedom there than what was afforded in working on Final Fantasy XV. Speaking to that game and its development, he explained that there were "different policies" with Square management at the time. 

As it "felt impossible" to work under those conditions, he left, which later resulted in three previously announced Final Fantasy XV expansions being canceled. 

"[That] wasn't my decision to make, but I couldn't stop it, which made me even more depressed at the time," Tabata admitted. "However, the sense of frustration that I felt gave me the motivation to produce better games from a freer standpoint."

JP lets him take on "new challenges," and he thinks it can redeem his name, along with other Final Fantasy XV veterans who joined him. "We want to...provide new and interesting games to all players we let down back then."

Bahamut's full interview with Tabata can be read here, and for those who need it, the translated summary is here.

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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