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Final Fantasy XV’s Director Is All Too Aware Of The Ageing Videogame Audience


In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Square Enix’s Hajime Tabata—who has taken over as the fulltime director of Final Fantasy XV—stated that he wants to make the game “more casual”.


“With Final Fantasy XV, I do want to make it more casual,” Tabata said. “Of course the depth of the game is going to be there, but I want to make it so players can easily experience the satisfaction of the depth of the game.”


Tabata added that he intends to make the game’s combat a little simpler, too, boiling it down to “one-button action” where the game automatically knows what you were trying to do, and outputs the appropriate action from Noctis, the game’s protagonist.


“Casual” is a sensitive word in videogames, and one that tends to be frowned upon by enthusiast gamers if it isn’t perceived in the right context. Tabata elaborated that Final Fantasy XV’s combat design is being simplified primarily because he wants to place an emphasis on being able to execute moves easily, and also because he himself is of a certain age and doesn’t necessarily want a control scheme involving too many buttons.


“I myself am not getting any younger,” Tabata said. I don’t want to be frantically pushing buttons. I also want to utilise the intelligence of the hardware spec, and not have to go through too much hassle or trouble in order to execute moves.”


If you’ve been paying attention to Square Enix these past few years, you might recall that this isn’t the first time Tabata has made it clear that he’s becoming increasingly aware of an aging audience. Last year, in Square Enix’s annual report, the director made a similar comment regarding older consumers that still play games.


“My aim for the projects centering on Final Fantasy XV is to achieve the highest-acclaimed, highest-profitable installment in the Final Fantasy series,” Tabata had stated to shareholders at the time. Further down in his comments, he had added, “Going forward, as a creator I would like to develop new IPs for seniors. I will create games that would thoroughly satisfy myself as I get older.”


While Tabata’s new IP for seniors—if it exists—hasn’t surfaced yet, it is fairly clear that he intends for Final Fantasy XV to reach as wide an audience as it possibly can, and that he’s willing to make decisive design changes to try and facilitate that. He’s even gone on record saying that he intends to rebalance Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, having realized that the original PSP version suffered from difficulty issues. If anything, he’s very consistent in his outlook.


He also has some ideas for what he wants to do in the future, perhaps after Final Fantasy XV has completed development.


“Ultimately, I do want to create something based on real history—a Final Fantasy game based on real history, for example,” Tabata said to Siliconera recently. “For example; you’d have the American Civil war as a back drop, and then behind the scenes all of these Final Fantasy-type characters are utilizing their special abilities to fight. I really love that kind of setting. That’s the kind of game, I really, really want to make!”

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.