The Future of FFXI - Famitsu Interview with Akihiko Matsui and Yoji Fujito

23 May 2019

Famitsu recently did an interview with Final Fantasy XI Producer Akihiko Matsui and Director Yoji Fujito where they discussed the future of the MMO that is currently celebrating its 17th anniversary.

The original interview can be read here.

20th anniversary is just a check-point.

Famitsu: First, I would like to congratulate you on the 17th anniversary. During the 44th Freshly Picked Vana’diel broadcast on March 8th, you announced that the game will run at least until the 20th anniversary. Could you explain how you came to that decision?

Matsui: Thanks to Kadokawa’s help, we were able to do an event last year in December. During the event, we spontaneously started talking about how we want to do something big for the 20th anniversary. However, lately, FFXI’s plans and budget are decided on a one year basis, so hypothetically speaking, even if we wanted to do something big for the anniversary which is in May, because of the way the company runs, we would have to get the budget approved at the end of the previous fiscal year, which is in March. Therefore, we wouldn’t be able to finish the preparations on time. When thinking in that aspect, we would have to make a “few years contract”.

Famitsu: I see. So, it’s hard to plan things that extend a certain period. That means that there are things that are already set into motion?

Matsui: Firstly, we renewed the installer and the configuration application “FINAL FANTSY XI Config”. When we make plans for projects such as those, it is also hard to make decisions such as “this much investment should be fine” or “this is too costly…” for only one year. When we talked about how we want to make precise plans until the 20th anniversary, we were told that it should be fine for FFXI because of its current performance grades.

Famitsu: That should be great news for the players.

Fujito: Yes. There is a trend line graph of number of players in an MMORPG, so we adjusted our plans according to that trend line. However, if we continue using that graph as our base, we would have to assume that the game doesn’t have any players anymore (laugh). FFXI was able to get away from that trend and there are still many players playing the game. I think that is the result of the team’s efforts to keep the world alive somehow.

Famitsu: I know it’s just statistics, but I had no idea such a graph existed.

Fujito: Yes, it does. Once the game releases, the line goes up really quickly and when it reaches it’s peak, its naturally start to fall down. When an expansion is released, the line starts to increase and decrease making a mountain shape and then it starts to decrease again. The natural decrease’s degree is known for almost any MMORPG, and in accordance to that degree there is a decreasing line which the real data neatly follows, but FFXI is going against it. (laugh)

Famitsu: You’re developing an exception of the rule. (laugh)

Fujito: Currently, FFXI is going sideways most of the time. You could say it has hit its bottom. It does go up a bit sometimes as well. (laugh) When we think about how are we going to give our best for the game without the expansion peaks, I think we need to base our plans on the flat line.

Famitsu: After you announced that the game will continue at least until the 20th anniversary, some players were relieved that they still have 3 years while some showed worry. When you get near the milestone that is the 20th anniversary, will you be considering new plans for the 21st year and onward depending on the situation?

Matsui: After we announced the final scenario “Rhapsodies ofVana’diel” in 2015 the number of development staff was reduced and we set our goals to “let’s go for one more year”. Alongside that, if we set one more goal of having a 20th anniversary, it connects to the staff’s motivation. We talked about what to do after the 20th anniversary, too, and even though there are aspects we can’t think about until we get there, I think that as long as there are players that continue playing the game, we will be able to continue as a business. There is a necessity to think about the system of developing the game afterwards, but firstly we have to concentrate on getting to the 20th anniversary with the current staff. To tell you the truth, most of the current staff don’t want to be put into different projects, but we have to have a structure where the staff are able to talk to us if they want to change it.

Fujito: Only Matsui and myself are left from the original dev team. The other members all came in part way through and most of them are 10-year veterans. Topics such as “what are we going to do with those people’s careers” or “Are we going to bury our bones along with FFXI?” are sure to arise because all of them have their lives and families. Therefore, we have to show some flexibility, the problem where people start feeling insecure because they have to renew their contracts every year will arise. One of the current goals of the dev team at the moment is to remove that unpredictably.

Famitsu: It is important to take care of the developers’ careers with such a long running title.

Matsui: All of the staff love FFXI and play the game to the fullest, so if we don’t say anything about the topic, I think the situation would become such that they are only sacrificing their own strength to keep the game running. If we want the game to continue running, we have to make preparations so that developers can take over, make a generation exchange, etc. If we continue thinking about the development in one-year intervals, that would be impossible to achieve.

Famitsu: By the way, ever since the development structure became more compact, were there any changes in the staffing?

Matsui: The development staff didn’t change, but the Fifth Business Division which FFXI was a part of was reorganized into the 3rd Development Division with FFXIV at its core. Along with that, the engineers from that Division started helping with our project, so we are able to do new things with the game. Before, the projects were split vertically, or better to say, FFXI and FFXIV were working separately, but now people who are involved with both projects are fluidly operating on both. So in a sense, it did change.

Famitsu: That’s great. There are former members of the FFXI team in FFXIV.

Matsui: Yes. It’s helpful in that aspect. We are starting to be able to tweak our schedules with the FFXIV team to do something for the game, so there’s many things expected for the future. Also, some former FFXI developers also take outside orders for creating textures, so if mid to long term planning becomes possible, the things we ask them to do might change, as well. We also don’t know how long they will be able to concentrate only on FFXI and in order for them to have a clearer picture of their careers as well, we started talking in terms of “until the 20th anniversary, for now”.

Famitsu: Listening to your answers, it seems like the 20th anniversary is more of a check point, rather than a goal?

Matsui: That’s right.

Fujito: That’s because if we don’t flag things, it would be hard to know where to go towards. I think that probably a lot of players feel the same way. When we did the Vana’diel Project announcement, we announced in a big fashion that major updates will end in March 2016; however, we still do updates every month which makes us look like we have no intention on stopping… (bitter laugh). At the onset, we explained what isn’t possible for us to do due to our development structure, but everyone grasped on the hope that it’s possible to those things, so a we keep receiving a lot of feedback such as “Please do that” or “Please make something like this”.  

Famitsu: It is true that more was done than what was expected during the Vana’diel Project announcement, so expectations unintentionally keep rising.

Fujito: That’s not a bad thing at all. Rather, because people don’t feel like it will end, it’s a good thing. However, because of that, we want to make something big one more time at good point. In that case, if we set the 20th anniversary as one of our goals and are able to make decent plans, its easier for players and the company to head that way.

Mid-term and long-term goals are from now onwards

Famitsu: Please tell us what you can in regards to what you want to do, or what would be possible to do after you are able to establish mid to long-term plans?

Matsui: The truth is, not that much time has passed since it was decided to make mid to long-term goals, so it isn’t the time to talk about specifics. Also, we can’t do much in the first half of 2019 because our schedules are filled with tasks. We are going to concentrate on those plans in the later half of this year.

Famitsu: I see, you are just starting.

Matsui: However, when it comes to battle content, we do want to do some updates from time to time. As to what content we will update, that depends on timing. Also, it would be great if we could have players enjoy some kind of story content, even if it isn’t on a large scale. Even if it’s two to three episodes a year, we would like to put in stories that revolve around Vana’diel and NPC’s that live in that world. However, making stories requires time. After creating the text, there is localization as well. It’s hard to finish them in the current 1-month interval updates, therefore planning in advance and then implementing them would be great.

Fujito: We will be doing the Empirean gear enhancements which we promised during a Freshly Picked Vana’diel at some point. We are thinking of implementing that alongside new battle content and just simply slapping it in. I don’t know if it will be as big as Dynamis and Omen, though.

Famitsu: So, you are thinking of implementing the enhancements and the content as a set?

Fujito: We would like to do so. Nevertheless, it’s still not in the stage of being designed. The same goes for how we are going to mark the 20th anniversary, but we are currently discussing what, and when, we are going to implement content and at what speed and what order will they be released in over the next three years. Like Matsui said, we would like to do something that is involved with a story.

Matsui: To tell you the truth, we have a few things that we are currently in a rush to do for the 17th anniversary, so we didn’t have time to sit down and discuss (bitter laugh).

Famitsu: When you say mid to long-term plans, I have to ask; Is an expansion is a little bit too far-fetched?

Matsui: Anything is possible so I can’t say no, but I think it’s unlikely.

Fujito: Currently, we have people who can create textures, but we would need specialized staff to create new 3D models, motions and fields. Also, when it comes to a scale such as an expansion story, it would require two to three people to make a lot of time and create the story together.

Famitsu: So, the wall is the human recourse, after all…

Fujito: Number of people is one of the problems, but the environment for developing is quite outdated. When we released the three add on scenarions (“A Crystalline Prophecy”, “A Moogle Kupo d’Etat” and “A Shantotto Ascension”), we didn’t expand on the areas, so the needed resources were relatively small. If we were to make an expansion, I think that would be the limit. And that is just a possible scenario.

Matsui: When FFXI turns 30, all of the initial staff will be retired, so it would be fun if volunteers would expand on Vana’diel a little at a time (laugh). And have Hiromichi-san (the first FFXI producer) as the Producer.

Famitsu: That sounds really fun (laugh).

Putting the hardships of installing to a minimum

Famitsu: Could you give me some details on the new installer and configuration?

Matsui: Until now, we had the Vana’diel collection 4’s client data on our website for the PC version of FFXI, so we changed the installer itself so that the game can be installed more intuitively.

Fujito: You had to get over some barriers in order to even run the game if you wanted to start FFXI.

Famitsu: You are talking about setting up Windows itself?

Fujito: Yes. On Windows 8.1 and higher you had to enable DirectPlay, things like DirectX and its runtime, etc. so to players that came from the PS2 and Xbox 360, the process started with “what the….?”. We had a lot of feedback that players were stuck at that step. Installation didn’t go well, FFXI wouldn’t start and in the end, they gave up. So, we wanted to make that much easier to understand and have the installer do everything automatically. We were making preparations for this since Fall of 2018.

Famitsu: Is the installer that can be downloaded on the website the new installer already?

Fujito: Yes. By the way, all the version updates up until the point it was introduced are inside the client, so the updates after installations should be done in a short amount of time. For people that are starting the game or bought a new PC, please do try it out.

Famitsu: As for the configuration, the FINAL FANTASY XI Config application has a new look?

Matsui: Yes, the one that’s outside the game.

Famitsu: What if you already have the game installed?

Matsui: It will get exchanged for the new Config with this month’s (May 2019) update, so if you might think: “Oh! It changed!” when you open it. (laugh)

Fujito: Because Config had a lot of terms that were hard to understand, we made it much easier to understand in that aspect and changed the interface so that it’s much more intuitive. We changed the terms such as “Menu Buffer” or “Front Buffer”.  

Famitsu: It did have Help, but it was hard to understand without doing research. (bitter laugh)

Fujito: Especially with the textures where you had high, middle and low and low was the option for better quality.

Famitsu: That’s a famous trap (laugh). It has to do with texture compression so the low setting (no compression) has the best quality.

Fujito: There were expressions that were not understandable just by looking at them, so there were situations where you had to take time and understand them. Even if you are able to install the game with the new installer, the next place you would get stuck is there… Well, when we are reforming, might as well make Config more understandable as well.

Famitsu: Are there new options in the settings?

Fujito: Only the interface changed so the content of Config settings didin’t. For example, settings that had list boxes changed to sliders, it is explained what will happen if you change an option, etc., so that it’s easier to use.    

Famitsu: I see. So current players don’t have to change anything.

Matsui: Yes. Even though the Config has a new look, the settings content is saved. But there is a new feature for backing-up data, so it might be good to do so just in case something happens.

Fujito: User data features such as macros and gear sets will be saved to a file and you can import it anytime at will. In reality, people who had knowledge of PCs to some level could save their user settings data but backing-up itself wasn’t part of support. Now we officially covered that. We tweaked things that were desired by the players.  

Famitsu: That will be useful when moving to a different PC or using it to change your macros and gear sets.

Fujito: By the way, the backup isn’t character based, it’s simply put together data of all characters from your account made as user data which you can freely export and import, just so you know.

Famitsu: Now only if you had a gamepad you could have the same playing environment as PS2 or Xbox360 players.

Fujito: For gamepads, it’s easy to plug in a PS4 DUALSHOCK 4 so I recommend it.  

Server replacement and virtualization

Famitsu: Are there any other changes you have planned other than the installer and Config?

Fujito: We have plans, or rather, are currently putting effort into the back-end side of the servers. The servers are getting older and they break easily. Considering those issues, we are currently conducting so-called server replacement once or twice a month when we do maintenance of everything. The current machines are incomparably stronger and the memory size is extraordinarily big, so we are not just doing server replacement but virtualization of servers, as well. We are making the game better in the back while considering pros and cons.

Famitsu: So, you are servicing an aspect of the game that players can’t see, as well.

Fujito: You’re probably going to ask what kind of pros that brings and the answer is that the servers won’t break as easily or areas won’t crash all of a sudden, aspects that might interrupt gameplay will happen at a much lesser rate. Also, we are still experimenting with this, but we might be able to do something about layer areas (instances) sooner than expected.

Famitsu: Oh! The number of instances might increase?

Fujito: That as well. However, if we just increase the number of instances, the work load will have to go somewhere. Therefore, if that load puts a burden on the performance of the game, I think we shouldn’t go with that plan. We are still looking at the limits of the server. People who play the game won’t feel any changes which is what we are trying to achieve.

Famitsu: The current wait times for Ambuscade is a problem for current Vana’diel, isn’t it? On servers, such as Odin, which have big populations, the queue is usually 60 parties long after updates.

Matsui: The truth is, the most populated server is Asura. On Asura, many players make parties rather than entering groups, so the rotation of players is much better than Odin. Even so, we’ve been told that it started to get laggy. We can’t just tell players to move to worlds where there’s space, so we are doing something about that issue in order to play the game more comfortably. 

Famitsu: Asura has around 3000 players even now, right?

Fujito: The core players of Asura are oversea players. A lot of them heard that if they come to Asura, they might run into friends, so the current state is that people are gathering there.

Matsui: The problem with Ambuscadeis that the entrance gets congested rather then there not being enough instances. During one period, we wanted to mitigate the congestion of the entrance so we increased the time necessary to finish a run and increased the points received, but now it’s getting harder and harder to fix the problem. That’s why, like Fujito said earlier, we started to experiment with increasing the number of instances. In theory, it should have an effect, but if it will have effect once implemented, we still don’t know. The truth is that there’s a bottleneck somewhere, so there’s a possibility that nothing will change… I don’t want to create expectations, but we are experimenting.

Fujito: Therefore, it’s not like we crossed our hands and aren’t doing anything about it. This is only in theory, but if the experiment succeeds, the wait times should be cut in half.

Famitsu: I hope for good results. By the way, you said that Asura players form parties. Do most Japanese players play solo?

Matsui: That’s right. For the most part, solo players are dominant.

Fujito: For Ambuscade, we are taking very detailed data. Odin is mainly dominated by Japanese players and they usually go into the content in small numbers, one or two people, where some factors might be age, time usage and playstyle. On the other hand, Asura has a pick-up-group culture and the main style of play is gathering a party and playing Ambuscade. It can be seen really well in the numbers.

Famitsu: That’s interesting. I thought the solo and party players were around half and half.

Matsui: People who can do parties, should, because it’s much more effective and you can get Gallantries. However, on the other hand, Ambuscade was created for and is being made for solo players, as well, so…

Famitsu: It’s pretty much how imagined it.

Matsui: I don’t think it’s appropriate to say “if you can form parties, form them”, so it’s not a problem of solo or party-play. We are currently investigating the problem, and it would be ideal if we could decrease the wait times. Also, in Ambuscade, when you get a certain amount of points, you can say that you’re done with that month, right? We would like to tweak that aspect as well, and have people get more points so that they are finished much faster. However, if we make points to easy to get, people who do Ambuscade as main content might run out of things to do, so we need to polish other content which would come in a set alongside the Ambuscade adjustments.

Ambuscade Weapons and Pulse Panoplia

Famitsu: With the April Update, you added monthly goals in the Records of Eminence. What was the intent behind them?

Matsui: During the 15th anniversary we added monthly goals to the Records of Eminence. We received feedback that that content is just right for some people. That for players that log in during weekends and play a bit, its’ great content which they can challenge and get rewards from. Also, some players wanted content where you collect things a little at a time and after a while you get a somewhat strong item/gear, which is unlike Ambuscade where you go all out every month, so those requests were shaped into Records of Eminence monthlies.

Famitsu: So, you made content where even light players can make progress and have them play the game for longer times.  

Matsui: We chose something that beginners can do from the start and even if they can’t, if they have two to three days, they can finish it. To some extent, we have a lot of content and we thought that it would be great if people recall those and try to do them after some time, so we target things that are not in season, too. The difficulty should be adjusted so that people who have gear with which they can challenge Ambuscade. 

Famitsu: Is having 4 goals static?

Matsui: Yes, it is. The content of the goal differs, but the number is static. The advanced field missions’ goal is that you defeat one enemy which changes in order. The other 3 goals have 3 patterns which are looped every 3 months.

Fujito: When implementing the monthlies, we implemented some kind of requested veteran rewards which are given as bonuses to people depending on the length of the period they played the game. Basically, some kind of bonus that corresponds to the time put into the game. However, the current situation is such that there are players who have played for a really long time or new players. There are extremes on both sides.

Famitsu: It seems like there aren’t as many players that are in the middle.

Fujito: FFXI remembers when you started the game but doesn’t know if you played the whole time or took a break in the meanwhile to start with. The accumulated playtime is measured while you are online, but we cannot use that as a reference for the veteran rewards as the run time of the game is too long and it doesn’t give a realistic picture. For a player who just started the game, it is impossible to get to the point of a 17-year veteran. (bitter laughter)

Famitsu: So, it’s hard to implement rewards which depend on the playtime in a 17-year-old game.

Fujito: Hypothetically, if we were to give an awesome reward to a player who has been playing the game for 17 years, returning players or new players might feel left out because of the impossibility to obtain that reward, so we thought it isn’t fair to implement that. If that’s the case, we might as well start from now, have players accumulate points via Records of Eminence and have them get rewards according to those points. And by putting different stages to rewards and show them to the players in advance it might help motivate people to play.

Famitsu: It’s great to see rewards in advance.

Fujito: Players who are taking a break from the game usually long in during the welcome back free log-in campaign which we do about 3 times a year. They log in to say hi, have a bit fun and don’t log in back until the next one. We thought that it would be great if that became motivation for them to stay, as well.

Famitsu: Since you said those are like veteran points, will the Deed points which you can receive through monthlies ever be reset?

Fujito: They won’t. As long as the game is running, they will accumulate.

Famitsu: On the current announced list, the last item is marked as ???, which you will be able to receive if you play for 1 year without breaks.

Fujito: Firstly, the players have to accumulate that many points. We are still discussing what we are going to do afterwards. If we keep the same system, the same problem as the 17-year veteran reward problem might arise, so it is currently being discussed.

Matsui: Whatever the case, the problem of not being able to keep up will arise. We still don’t know when we are going to reveal the ???.

Famitsu: Oh! You already decided on the item? I thought you didn’t. (Laugh)

Matsui: Of course, it’s decided. (laugh)

Fujito: It is decided. If the players will go “Wow!” is a different problem, though. (laugh)

Matsui: We want to announce it at a special timing in order to keep players excited for this year. Of course, it won’t affect the strength of your character like RMEA, but we are thinking of doing something unique which isn’t in the game. It isn’t even implemented as data in the game.

Famitsu: I see, can’t wait. W-Pulse Kupon is the main reward people are aiming for at the moment as it can be exchanges for Pulse Panoplia. The Pulse Panoplia is needed for the final upgrade of Ambuscade weapons. I think you put quite a bait in the game (laugh).

Matsui: The earliest you can get it is in 5 months. Everyone is running towards the Pulse Panoplia, I would assume (laugh). I think that should be good timing to announce what ??? is.

Famitsu: You get at least one Pulse Panopila with monthlies and you need them in order to finish your Ambuscade weapon. I thought the final enhancement would be much more difficult. Can you please explain?

Matsui: We were discussing how we want to put a graphical effect on the complete Ambuscade weapons. But, weapons with effects are very rare in Vana’diel and requiring Pulse Panopila seemed appropriate. If that’s the case, might as well put ridiculous stats on the weapons… That’s the order in which decided on the strength of the weapons. 

Famitsu: It started with weapon effects.

Matsui: There are concerns that because those are Ambuscade weapons, they should be finished in Ambuscade. However, if we do that, we would have to hold back on the stats. Those stats are possible because you need Pulse Panoplia. Depending on the situation, you should be able to use them alongside RMEA weapons.

Famitsu: In reality, they are really strong, right?

Matsui: Yes. However, we got a lot of feedback that getting Pulse Panoplia is very hard which is why we added the W-Pulse Kupons to the monthlies. Also, we have been receiving feedback over the years that potpourri charging is tedious and since it has to do with Pulse Panoplia, we decided to deal with that, as well. In Reisenjima, if you go to the specific goblin, you can get a buff which has quite a long buff time. All merit points you get with that buff will automatically charge the potpourri.

Fujito: Just to add, overflowing merit points are the ones that charge the potpourri automatically, so you need to fill your merit points to the maximum.

Famitsu: We get weird gimmicks again (laugh).

Matsui: Vana’diel is also being virtually monetized… (laugh). We had some resistance in implementing that because of the lore, but you will accumulate points easier now, so please use them for Pulse Panoplia, as well.

Job adjustments are content in itself

Famitsu: You started job adjustments from January 2019. Are you going to make adjustments to all jobs in a period of one year?

Matsui: I’m sorry to say, but I can’t promise that we will be able to make adjustments to all jobs in one year. People who create content are the ones who also do job adjustments, and they are saying that they want to do something every month. However, depending on the situation, there might be months where they have to skip them. We think of job adjustments this time around as content rather than balance adjustments.

Famitsu: Content?

Matsui: We think that when you get your main job adjusted that you get this feeling of excitement of how the job change and how it will play rather then how strong it is, so we think of it as content. When it comes to attackers, of course, the focus goes to DPS, so it’s quite a troubling aspect for us…

Famitsu: I agree that having your job tweaked is an event in itself. You get excited when you see your job on the list on the website. But, the Dia and Bio adjustments which were implemented the other day seemed a little too cautious. (laugh)

Matsui: When it comes to Dia, the Light Shot effect was too strong so the need for Red Mage and high tier Dia magic was reduced. We wanted to return that to it’s former use. We adjusted it so that overall, the effect wouldn’t fall short. We also adjusted it so that the Light Shot has meaning.

Famitsu: If you had to say, you want to adjust the jobs’ possibilities horizontally?

Matsui: We don’t want to stir up the jobs. If the rotations up until now become useless it isn’t good. We want the spectrum of gameplay to widen by having more options of gameplay or battles with enemies that were reasonably harder becoming easier.

Famitsu: It would be great if players could enjoy the game in that aspect alongside job changes.

Matsui: That would be great. It would also be great if that becomes a starting point for new discussions among the community. If from those discussions emerge good ideas, we would like to take them into consideration. In that sense, if we get feedback where people tell us things such as “you should do this” or “please do something about this ability” rather than “there’s no point in talking about jobs anymore”, then our work paid off.

Fujito: We get a lot of feedback on the forums where people give us a problem and suggest a solution to it, which is very helpful. With that, we can more easily address the reason of the problem. If we only talk about jobs in terms of strengths and weaknesses then we have to ignore the facts about job’s basic performances and start the discussion from zero. A job’s performance doesn’t only come from its DPS. 

Famitsu: We have to think of it from the entire picture; from abilities to the synergy with other jobs.

Fujito: There is a tendency to talk about jobs from the aspect of damage such as “this weapon skill is strong” or “this job can wipe out a room the fastest”. We want to make adjustments so that jobs can complete their roles and if new job abilities or traits get introduced that they blend in with the current use of the jobs well. You can think of the changes in that way.

In order to protect Vana’diel

Famitsu: Lastly, please give a message to the players for the 17th anniversary.

Matsui: I know 17 years isn’t a nice number to make a mark, but being able to run the game for 17 years is a big honor for us and it’s all thanks to everyone’s support. We announced that we are going to give our best until the 20th anniversary. My mission is to protect Vana’diel as long as I can so that everyone can come back at any time. Please keep on supporting us.

Fujito: I talked about the subscriber graph earlier. FFXI is now mostly played by loyal subscribers and those subscribers invite their friends to play with them. At least that’s what the numbers and data analysis say. Which means, if we give our best from now going forward, the graph should start raising again. Among players who are still playing the game, there are players that have their lives intertwined with the game. Therefore, we want to give those players much more content so that that lifestyle doesn’t crumble away. Or rather, so that that community evolves even further, we want to introduce many new measures for the game.

Matsui: When I was developing Chrono Trigger, I thought that if you neatly plan out your costs and use them in that fashion that it will get through to the players. When I was involved with that game, I tied to do everything in my power to do the best work even though I worked on aspects that players don’t see. I think one of the secrets of FFXI lasting this long is that we take our time to do the behind the scenes work from time to time. I want to protect that.

Famitsu: FFXI is really well made then.

Matsui: We’re creating it a little at a time.

Fujito: For example, creating and releasing new content is a really sensational thing. The people who make the content are having fun and the players are having fun. But, because of that there is a tendency to not prioritize the work behind the scenes. To tell you the truth, FFXI was always a game where we never knew when it was going to end. Is there meaning in touching the details, is it better to put in elements that will make everyone excited; these are the questions we have been struggling with for a long time. But, if we only think about that, the game will die for sure. In order for the game not to die out, we need to do the bland work as well, even if it doesn’t directly reflect in the game. If we don’t do that now, there is a chance that the game won’t reach the 20-year anniversary flag. In order to make it, we are going to reorganize our route and give it everything we got to service the game. We want to make that one of our themes for the 17th anniversary. For the 18th and 19th anniversary, we would like to do something different so please be sure to check it out for yourselves.