Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is a game with legs. It’s turning five years old in Japan on October 22, 2015, while its global version is now four years old. People have been able to see what’s happening with Lapis and its original heroes, like Fina, Rain, and Lasswell, over three seasons. In honor of such hallmarks, Siliconera was able to ask Producers Kei Hirono and Hiroki Fujimoto more about the game and the plans for its future.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius celebrated its fourth birthday in June 2020. What sorts of challenges have you faced in maintaining and running a game for so many years?
Kei Hirono, Producer: Since we’re creating a game with the name Final Fantasy, which is so beloved by people throughout the world, I feel a massive amount of pressure. Additionally, the nature of a F2P game is that if the game’s service ends, it can no longer be played, and it won’t be around anymore, so I think the most important thing is to keep the game going. I’m most conscious about this point particularly because we’re working with an IP as cherished as Final Fantasy. I’ve been saying this since the beginning to players and on-site team members alike, but I want this to be content that keeps going for ten years to come.
Hiroki Fujimoto, Producer: As Mr. Hirono mentioned, I think it’s important that we work to continue the game’s services while upholding the quality it should have as a Final Fantasy title.
Also, the global version of the game includes simultaneous releases across eight languages and the addition of content exclusive to the global version for players around the world to enjoy. Developing and operating all this within a limited amount of time, during the six-month gap following the Japanese version, was a new challenge we faced.
How different is the development process now, in 2020, than it was in 2016?
Fujimoto: The basic process hasn’t changed. However, the amount of content added each month has increased compared to the beginning, and there are more languages for translation now as well.
For this reason, we constantly reassess and strengthen our development organization. Compared to how it was originally, the number of developers has vastly grown. Our team members have changed quite a bit, but we continue developing with the belief that change is necessary in order to keep evolving.
Which Final Fantasy games do you feel were the greatest influences and inspirations, mechanically-speaking?
Hirono: This relates to the original concept we had in mind for this project, but the Final Fantasy games depicted with classic pixel art, from Final Fantasy I through Final Fantasy VI, have influenced this game. What if the Final Fantasy series hadn’t chosen to proceed with 3D visuals starting with Final Fantasy VII, and had instead continued to use pixel art…? That’s what we try to envision as we work on this title, FFBE.
Additionally, I’m the one who determines the basic structure of the story, but perhaps some of my personal favorites, such as Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy X, have influenced how the story has unfolded, even though I may not have realized it at the time.
I would imagine Final Fantasy Brave Exvius has been through quite a few changes and adjustments over the years. Is there any one event or feature that ended up surprising you with how popular it was?
Hirono: Events that we’ve held as global exclusives for Halloween, Christmas, and Chinese New Year have garnered much more attention than we had anticipated. The characters created for the events and characters dressed to match those events are also popular.
Fujimoto: The global original units and events are very popular. Among them, I was especially happy that Elena, a unit we introduced into the game during our third anniversary last year who has her own CG movie that’s original to the global version, has gained so many fans and so much popularity.
This time, to celebrate our fourth anniversary, Elena will appear in the game as a new character, Starlight Elena, bringing with her a new look. Another new global original unit called Yoshikiri will join as well. We introduced these two during our livestream, and they received a lot of positive attention, which I was very happy to see.
Conversely, was there some element of or character in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius where you thought, "This will be a hit!" and found that people didn’t respond?
Hirono: Not in particular!
Fujimoto: I can’t say there’s been a time when I thought, “This will a be a hit!” only to find out that people didn’t respond.
Everything we offer through this game is developed/operated by us with confidence, with us thinking, “This is something that the players will enjoy.” There are times when ultimately, those efforts might not come be received in the way we hope, but I want to take those in as important feedback as well and use them to provide something even better.
Final Fantasy Brave Exvius has had some unusual guest characters, like Ariana Grande and Katy Perry. How do these come together? Has there ever been one that fell through?
Hirono: We planned those celebrity collaborations because we thought that might be the best way to introduce FFBE to as many people as possible throughout the world.
So far, there hasn’t been any instance in particular where one fell through.
Fujimoto: It’s just as Mr. Hirono said. And in fact, there have been many players who have let us know that they started playing the game because of the celebrity collaboration.
I hope to continue using different methods to try to get lots of people to know FFBE.
What did you have planned for the fourth anniversary? Can you talk about some of the things you’d most like to do?
Fujimoto: Starting from August 20, 2020 we introduced to the game a completely new type of unit with different abilities. Of these units, the first to arrive is Cloud from FInal Fantasy VII Remake, which has shipped over five million copies worldwide.
Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, Starlight Elena, a warrior of the crystal, and the ninja Yoshikiri will both join as global original units. Their background is that they both appear in Fundamental Forces, a graphic novel popular throughout the world of FFBE. It makes me very happy to see such an overwhelmingly positive response from the players when we announced their addition to the game.
Final Fantasy Brave Exvius has been able to do some pretty out-there collaborations with other Square Enix games, plucking characters from Deus Ex, Dragon Quest, Fullmetal Alchemist, Just Cause, Kingdom Hearts, NieR:Automata, and Tomb Raider. Is there a "holy grail" collaboration you haven’t done yet, but want to?
Fujimoto: Let’s see, there are still many more titles that we haven’t collaborated with. Among those, if I had to come up with a personal “holy grail” collaboration, it would be the very first game that I was involved with after joining Enix (now Square Enix) as a fresh graduate. It was a game for SNES called E.V.O.: Search for Eden, and I handled tasks relating to localizing the Japanese version for its release in North America. Although to be honest, it’s just full of dinosaurs, so I think it would be difficult to actually execute a collaboration with it. [Laughs.]
Speaking of which, could we ever see Chrono Trigger or Cross characters in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius?
Fujimoto: I am very aware that we receive a lot of requests about Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. We, too, want to have a collaboration with those titles, but it’s difficult to make it a reality due to circumstances involving rights and such.
If we ever do reach a point where the situation changes, we will of course look into the possibility of realizing this collaboration once again.
Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is available for Android and Apple iOS devices.