Thursday, 11 July 2013

Microsoft's Exclusivity is Costing Them the Next Final Fantasy

Not coming to an Xbox 360 or Xbox One near you, apparently.

Although it would be a stretch to say that the recent Final Fantasy games have been, well, good, there actually is some good press about Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The latest instalment in the series is Square Enix's second crack at an FF themed MMORPG, following in the footsteps of Final Fantasy XI. Although the game got off to quite a rocky start, it underwent a near complete overhaul and has been receiving decent regards as of late.

The game has been in beta for quite some time, but they're finally gearing up to release it officially. In August the game is coming to both the PC and the Playstation 3, and there are plans to release it for the Playstation 4 once that goes up as well. Of course, thanks to the title of this article you already know the question: why isn't the game coming out on the Xbox 360 or Xbox One?

The answer to that lies with Microsoft itself, at least according to director Naoki Yoshida:

"For example, one player might be on the PC version, another might be on the PS4 version, and I'm playing the Xbox version -- but we're not able to join the same game servers. That is just ... I just don't like the idea. I disagree with it. To be frankly honest with you, there are now so many mobile devices, smart phones, everything -- why would you ever just stick to one platform from the hardware aspect? Just -- make it open to everyone? That's my opinion."

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is Xbox Live.

See, with PC and both of Sony's systems, the servers are cross-platform. Everyone can play together, there is no separation between the two different systems. However, with Xbox Live Microsoft insists on having separate servers. This would mean that anyone who played from a Microsoft system would be separated from the other two users, and likewise Sony and PC players couldn't interact with Xbox users either.

To Square, this is something they don't want. They know that there will be cases of people playing on different platforms wanting to play together, or hell, even just the tangential possibility that it will be wanted. To this end Square is making it so that it's not an issue from the start. As long as you both have the game, you can play it together, regardless of how you want to play it.

So, because Microsoft isn't willing to play with others, Square is deciding that they aren't getting to play at all. The ball is effectively in Microsoft's court now. Square has said that if Microsoft changed its policies then they would be more than happy to bring Final Fantasy 14 to their consoles. However, unless that openness is delivered, the Square is content to simply sit on its current spread of where the game is going.

So, will Microsoft come around? That's hard to say. If they do then it sets a precedent for games for the future, and if they don't then it means they lose on a game that could move some units. In the eyes of Microsoft both of those may be poor choices, since they seem to like having a good deal of control over their online assets. Whether the potential sales are enough to lure them into changing their stance, even only once, is something that is currently unknown. I wouldn't bet on it, but then again, stranger things have happened.

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