Square Enix and Sony surprised fans last week during the PlayStation 5 Showcase by announcing Final Fantasy XVI, the next entry in the franchise’s main line. No timeframe was given for the game’s release date – not so much as a “coming soon” – but it may not be too far off, after all.
Jason Schreier of Bloomberg News spoke about the game on the Triple Click Podcast, and suggested that it is “coming sooner than people think.” According to sources close to the project, the game has “actually been in development for at least four years in some capacity.”
The implication is notable given the publicly rocky development of several recent Square Enix blockbusters. Final Fantasy XV spent over a decade in development – originally as a tie-in to Final Fantasy XIII‘s universe – before being released, and was criticized for compartmentalizing parts of its story into separate DLC and multimedia. Last year’s Kingdom Hearts III was announced at E3 2013, and its director, Tetsuya Nomura, immediately told Famitsu it had been announced too early. Similarly Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced at E3 2015, almost five years before its first installment’s release.
If Final Fantasy XVI is indeed only a year or two away, having spent four years quietly in development, it could be a substantial win for Square Enix and the franchise’s reputation. Given that producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida’s team, Creative Business Unit III, was hiring for a next-gen project as far back as 2016, with additional hiring last year, it’s certainly possible.
While many announcement trailers offer only a glimpse of a new game, Final Fantasy XVI‘s trailer (dubbed “Awakening”) was a substantial first look, teasing many plot points and showing a healthy amount of in-game battle footage. However, director Hiroshi Takai tempered release date expectations in Square Enix’s announcement, stating “though we’re pouring our hearts and souls into this project each and every day, it may still be some time before we can get it into your hands.”
Yoshi-P promised a “big information reveal” for sometime in 2021.