Square Enix’s nearly two-decade-old MMORPG Final Fantasy XI was originally supposed to end with the PS2’s life span but was reportedly extended thanks to its release on PC. In an interview on the game’s official 20th-anniversary website, FFXI producer Akihiko Matsui and former producer Hiromichi Tanaka revealed that a port to the PS3 would have been incredibly time-consuming, and the company had instead decided to dedicate its resources to the development of FFXIV.
While the game’s console servers shut down in 2016, Final Fantasy XI still has a dedicated base of players on PC and has even released new content and campaigns as recently as a few days ago. Though not as large as its later counterpart FFXIV, the latter owes many of its mechanics— from battles to character creation—to Final Fantasy XI.
Tanaka notes that, traditionally, game consoles would only last around five years before becoming obsolete with the release of the next generation. And while the team initially hoped to port the MMO to the PS3 and utilize the console’s upgraded hardware, it would have required the team to remake many of the game’s assets from scratch. Instead, they decided to focus on the release of FFXIV alongside updates for FFXI. The former producer also states that with the ubiquity of smartphones, gaming habits had shifted away from home consoles, making “commitment-heavy games” difficult to keep in the mainstream.
Current producer Matsui had also initially worked on FFXIV, but had felt “burnt out” and decided to join FFXI as its producer after Tanaka had stepped down due to a chronic illness. Additionally, Tanaka recounts that it was also around the time of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, in which Square Enix had to suspend servers for several weeks. Among other incidents, the company also had to deal with DDoS attacks for a period of time.
If you’re interested in reading more, the official anniversary site also includes a gallery full of official artwork as well as other interviews discussing the game’s development history, including how it was originally inspired by the creator’s experience playing Everquest.[Source: FFXI Anniversary Site]
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