Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Could Final Fantasy become Nintendo exclusive?

Trying to start a little earlier tonight... If I'm lucky, maybe I can squeeze in some Battlefield afterwards!

People have wondered for quite some time if the incredibly famous Final Fantasy series would ever completely return to Nintendo consoles. Having started on the NES back in 1987, Final Fantasy undoubtedly has some serious history with Nintendo. The first six main games were released exclusively on the NES and SNES. Due to Square's dislike of the Nintendo 64 design, however, Final Fantasy made the move to the Playstation brand, and has primarily stayed there since. But things do change over time...

There's much discussion among fans that Final Fantasy will move back to Nintendo exclusivity. Almost all of this is said entirely out of hope, as no real confirmation has yet been given by Square-Enix. But there are plenty of signs pointing in that direction. In all seriousness, Final Fantasy just might become a Nintendo exclusive yet again.

First of all, let's take a look at developmental expenses. Developing games for the Wii is a whole lot cheaper than making a game for the PS3 or XBox 360. It has been said that a developer could make five Wii games for the price of one PS3 game! Sure, Square-Enix is a huge, rich company, but the rich don't get rich by spending more than what's necessary!

Next, let's take a look at what kind of demographics play each console. The truly die-hard RPG fans still turn to the PS3 for their fix, which is somewhat of a draw. But then there's the fact of how comparatively small that audience is. With only 5.5 million PS3s sold compared to 13.5 million Wii consoles flying off shelves, developing too many titles for the PS3 could become quite a gamble.

But with the XBox 360, the sales numbers are too close to that of the Wii to make much of a difference. With less than a one million gap between the two, developing a Final Fantasy for either console would be a good decision.

Before jumping to any conclusions, however, there's one big thing that needs to be pointed out: The majority (Not all) of XBox 360 fans are more interested in Halo and Bioshock than Final Fantasy. Sure, there's an RPG audience as well, but it likely makes up a fairly small percentage of the total 360 owners.

When it comes to the Wii, it's a little harder to determine what the audience for an RPG would be like. Titles such as Carnival Games and Rayman Raving Rabbids fly off the shelves, while games like Fire Emblem sit there gathering dust. While the Wii audience is the biggest (If just by a little), the RPG crowd it a little harder to discern. Perhaps Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is out to test the waters. If all goes well there, then who knows?

If Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers sells well, Final
Fantasy XIV on the Wii could be a distinct possibility.

On a related note, look at how many Final Fantasy games have been hitting Nintendo's dual screen handheld. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance 2, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Ring of Fates and more are all bound for the DS.

With those above titles in mind, let's take a look at all the announced Final Fantasy games for the competition's systems.

So far, only two Final Fantasy games have been announced for the PS3: Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII (The latter being a sister title to the former). As for the PSP, there are only a handful of Final Fantasies, all three of which are updated ports of older titles (A remake of the first two Final Fantasies and the original Tactics). There was also a Final Fantasy VII spin-off, but it only saw a release within Japan. A North American launch is unlikely.

To date, the XBox 360 has only one Final Fantasy to it's name, and that's Final Fantasy XI. There's also Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess, but that's merely an expansion for the main title.

If things don't work out on the Wii, there's always the DS! The little handheld that could has sold nearly 55 million units worldwide, and if past releases are any indication, the RPG market is definitely there. Final Fantasy III, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time have all sold massive amounts around the world.

But could a massive franchise such as Final Fantasy work on the DS? Off-shoots, spin-offs and sequels are one thing, but an entire main-series Final Fantasy is an entirely different thing altogether. A series suddenly transforming from a console mega-game to a handheld exclusive would be quite the jump!

However, such a thing does not seem to be an impossibility! After all, Dragon Quest IX is coming out exclusively for the DS next year! Not a spin-off or anything, a true, honest-to-goodness, entirely brand-new Dragon Quest. The scope of a Dragon Quest game is easily compared to that of a Final Fantasy title, so the probability is there.

In the end, having looked at the situation from pretty much every angle, I'm seeing a very strong likelihood of Final Fantasy returning to Nintendo exclusively. Just imagine, folks: Back in 1987, it all started with Nintendo. Maybe here, 20 years later, it will finally come full circle. I wouldn't be at all surprised.

The Duck Has Spoken.


Anonymous said...

One could only hope.

Anonymous said...


Mort said...

I highly doubt it.