NEWS - Thursday, September 2, 2004

Why There Is No Final Fantasy For Xbox

Reports that Square Enix has snubbed Xbox because of the console's limited Japanese following have been dismissed as "rumours" by company vice president and Final Fantasy XI producer Hiromichi Tanaka, who claims that the company is opposed to Microsoft's 'closed' approach to online gaming. Speaking to us today during an interview for Final Fantasy XI (the online version of the RPG series that's out on PC and PS2 in Japan and the US and is due to launch on PC in Europe at the end of the month), Tanaka-san explained that Square Enix's cross-platform approach conflicted with Microsoft's own individual strategy when it comes to Live games. "Don't believe everything you read," he told us when we asked him why there will never be Final Fantasy on Xbox, with Live seemingly well-suited to its very popular MMORPG. "There are always rumours flying around. We study all new hardware that comes out and look at possibilities to support it. And yes, we did look into Xbox and are looking at Xbox 2. "However, the reason we didn't go into Xbox was because Microsoft wanted a closed [online] system that keeps [games] exclusive to Xbox and they control it." Such observations are similar to EA's own concerns a while back, which originally refused to support Xbox Live due to Microsoft's demand for firm control over its console's online support. This reportedly included such matters as cost in addition to content, although an agreement between the giants was eventually reached and announced at E3 this year. As Tanaka-san continued: "We want [Final Fantasy XI] to be a totally open system where we have multi-platform, multi-nationality/multi-continent and stuff like that. "Microsoft's idea didn't allow us to do that and that's why we couldn't support it. Even though the hardware might be suitable, its online support is basically limited to its own system and you can't do cross-platform, you can't do cross-nationalities. That's basically where the problem lies." So there you have it - no Final Fantasy XI, or seemingly any Final Fantasy for that matter (Live or not Live) - will seemingly be launching on Xbox in the foreseeable future, which is bad news for Microsoft which has yet to crack the elusive Japanese market. Still, at least it can take heart in Tanaka-san's comments that: "[we] are looking into Xbox 2" - hope yet that Square Enix's benchmark RPG might make it onto a Microsoft console.


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