With Final Fantasy XI receiving its last major update this week, we reached out to Producer Akihiko Matsui to ask him about Rhapsodies of Vana’diel and the future of Vana’diel itself. Takashi Fuchigami, the Producer of Final Fantasy Grandmasters also stepped in to answer some questions!
Gamer Escape: Back in March you had a press conference and told us about the future of Final Fantasy XI. During that, you announced Rhapsodies of Vana’diel. How long had Rhapsodies been in development before its announcement?
Akihiko Matsui: Since we finished working on the final version update for the main scenario to Seekers of Adoulin. The idea behind expressing the current development team’s gratitude towards our players, non-development staff who have been involved with XI in some way or another, and former development staff, was decided a little prior to that.
Gamer Escape: How did development for the game shift after coming to the conclusion that the game would be receiving its last major update? Were there things you had originally planned to do that had to be cut?
Akihiko Matsui: I feel like this was the case for most current players of the game, but it was a huge shock for us, the development team, as well. That said, it didn’t take us much time to shift gears towards giving it our all for Rhapsodies of Vana’diel. I’m going to refrain from commenting on the specifics, but we did rework our plans from the perspective of what needed to be prioritized while developing Rhapsodies of Vana’diel in a limited amount of time.
Gamer Escape: With the game receiving its last major update, how will the subscription model change?
Akihiko Matsui: Currently, there are no plans for changes. The idea is to keep the servers open as long as possible, so your understanding would be greatly appreciated.
Gamer Escape: At E3, we asked Naoki Yoshida about maybe helping players transition into Final Fantasy XIV from XI. Has there been any further discussion about how you might go about this?
Akihiko Matsui: We’ve agreed to focus on initiatives that would allow players to enjoy Rhapsodies of Vana’diel rather than those that guide players towards XIV for the time being.
Gamer Escape: How has Final Fantasy Grandmasters been received in Japan? There are a number of players in North America that have gotten their hands on it and have really been enjoying it!
Akihiko Matsui: I’m enjoying it as well. The stronger the enemy, the more exciting co-op play with family and co-workers becomes. The liveliness of the chat reminds me of Jeuno from XI back in the day.
Takashi Fuchigami: Thankfully, many people have been playing the game. Some people mentioned that they started crying just listening to the music, and that almost brought me to tears. The concept and nature of the game in itself, where players can enjoy an MMORPG-like experience at the ease of a smartphone, has also been well-received. I’m extremely happy that players are able to enjoy the charm of co-op play, like helping other adventurers while receiving help from others.
Gamer Escape: Is there any update on if we might see Final Fantasy Grandmasters come to other regions?
Takashi Fuchigami: Nothing has been confirmed at this point.
Gamer Escape: With Final Fantasy XI Mobile it seems that the game is being made from the ground up for phones and tablets. Why did you decide to go this route instead of developing a new version for PC? Couldn’t this new version run on more than mobile devices?
Akihiko Matsui: Until FFXI was released, MMORPGs were considered games that were played on a PC with a keyboard. XI proposed the idea of playing with a controller on a home console. Our company currently operates FFXIV and DQX, both large-scale MMORPGs. In particular, FFXI shares a similar universe with FFXIV so in that sense, we would like to, once again, propose a new style of gameplay, but one that enables players to enjoy the game in short periods of time on a mobile device.
Gamer Escape: When I think of an MMO, I think of hours long sessions at a PC. Why did you decide to put the game on mobile, which is more known for much shorter gaming sessions?
Akihiko Matsui: I, myself, grew older with XI, and the environment that surrounds gaming as well as myself has changed drastically. When thinking about getting more people to try out the game, we felt the best option now would be to place it on mobile devices.
Gamer Escape: What will the art style be like for FFXI mobile? Will it the game look the same as the current Final Fantasy XI? Or will it be more similar to Grandmasters?
Akihiko Matsui: It’s still a bit difficult to comment on the specifics. That said, the idea would be more along the lines of a further refined FFXI given the high-perfomance mobile devices available today.
Gamer Escape: Many games on mobile are free to play with microtransactions. What sort of business model will the game have?
Akihiko Matsui: Unfortunately, it’s still too early to comment on this matter. But, we will consider methods that would make it easier for players to join and continue to play.
Gamer Escape: Will current FFXI players be able to carry over into FFXI Mobile in some way? Or will everyone start from scratch?
Akihiko Matsui: Currently, I’m unable to say anything definitive, but as a game, it will be something completely new.
Gamer Escape: Is there anything you would like to say to the players in North America?
Akihiko Matsui: Thank you, as always, for playing FFXI. Even when the content may be difficult, I feel like it’s a distinct characteristic of North American players to enjoy the process of working out new tactics rather than get fixated on existing strategies. Moving forward, we will only be pushing out minor version updates, but we will also be coming up with additional content that North American players can challenge. Your continued support for FFXI is much appreciated.