The Final Fantasy series is one of the few long-running gaming franchises still using a traditional numbered format for each new entry. While each game is a new story with new characters and locations, Square Enix fears that some newcomers who aren’t aware of this might be confused into thinking that they’ll need to play the previous fifteen games in order to understand Final Fantasy XVI. The company is considering removing the numbers from the titles altogether.
In a recent interview with GQ, Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida talked about the traditional numbered titles in Final Fantasy games. “A lot of players are going to come in and they’re going to look at it like a comic book where you have to read from the beginning to know what’s going on now,” said Yoshida. “It’s hard for marketing because every numbered title that we release in the series, we have to go into it like, ‘It’s OK, you don’t have to play the rest of them.’”
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Yoshida is concerned that it might deter new players from Final Fantasy because of its numbered titles. The task of playing through fifteen games worth of context to understand new entries is certainly not something that most players – especially those who aren’t familiar with the standalone structure of the JRPG franchise – would be willing to take on. To clear up the confusion, Yoshida suggested that the days of numbered Final Fantasy games might be coming to an end, but only if new developers allow it:
“That’s actually something that I’ve discussed with the higher-ups. Maybe it’s about time we removed the numbers from the title. For example, you have Final Fantasy 14. You get a new player coming in and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, why do I have to play Final Fantasy 14 if 16 is out?’ Why don’t we just call it Final Fantasy Online – just get rid of the number altogether, and that’ll make it easier to understand. Whether Final Fantasy 17 or Final Fantasy 18 should have a number or not – that’s going to be on whoever has to develop that game and whoever’s in charge of the branding, so that’s their problem, not ours!”
Final Fantasy XVI is a standalone game and while it does reference previous franchise staples like Chocobos and summons, you don’t need to play any other Final Fantasy title to understand the story – though we recommend that you do at some point because there are some fantastic games in the series.
Final Fantasy XVI launches on 22 June 2023 for PS5.