Final Fantasy XIV’s Crossover Approach Helps it Avoid the Worst Trend in Gaming
Keep the Hell out of FFXIV.
There’s room for a lot of darkness in Eorzea, but opening the gates of Hell might be a step too far.
Director Naoki Yoshida revealed at the recent Fan Fest in London that he would love to see Final Fantasy XIV cross over with a surprising game — Diablo IV. Before you get too excited about seeing Lilith glams filling Limsa Lominsa, he also said it will probably never happen.
“In terms of the ratings, it might be a bit difficult. And of course, on the other hand, we don't really want to disappoint fans of the franchise as well,” Yoshida said, according to GamesRadar+. “If we go for a softer version of Diablo in FFXIV, maybe that's not what people want as well.”
As disappointed as fans — and Yoshida — might be that demons won’t flood Final Fantasy XIV any time soon, sometimes it’s better not to get what you want. As Yoshida points out, the tonal clash between Final Fantasy XIV and Diablo IV would be massive, and twisting either game to fit the other would just make the collaboration feel hollow.
It’s not that Final Fantasy XIV hasn’t strained credulity for its crossovers before. Perhaps the strangest so far was the collaboration set to begin at the end of October, which adds colorful obstacle courses from Fall Guys to Square Enix’s MMORPG. But even there, care was taken to keep the crossover as lore-friendly as possible. The Fall Guys courses will join Final Fantasy XIV’s Gold Saucer, a giant amusement park that’s already full of wacky games and attractions.
The NieR: Automata collaboration shows another way Final Fantasy XIV has kept its crossovers from breaking the reality of the game. Adding robots from an entirely different continuity could have easily been a step too far, but the developer took pains to integrate it into the game, building an entire storyline around a series of NieR-themed Raids that somehow fit neatly with both games’ tones. By turning what could have been a mere cameo into a heartbreaking, multi-hour questline, Final Fantasy XIV elevated its crossover into something special.
Given how wild these collaborations get, putting Diablo IV into Final Fantasy XIV might not seem like that much of a stretch. After all, Eorzea is already chock full of dungeons stuffed with all kinds of arcane horrors. But Final Fantasy XIV is ultimately a game about hope. No matter how bleak the challenge seems, the power of friendship and incredible brutality wins out in the end. Diablo IV is the polar opposite, where evil always triumphs, no matter how much time you spend clicking on demons to explode them into goo.
Maybe there’s a way to contort either game so that they could fit together, but as Yoshida says, that would be a disservice to fans of both. By keeping some strict limits around how far it will reach for its collaborations, Final Fantasy XIV can avoid the worst possible fate — becoming Fortnite.
In Epic Games’ online playground, anything goes and nothing matters. That may be fine for a fast-paced shooter aimed mostly at teenagers, but no one is playing Fortnite for the story.
Final Fantasy XIV’s developers seem to have, instead, accepted that you can’t please everyone all the time. That impulse to try and force crossover seems to be especially dangerous for online games. MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XIV need to keep a large number of players active for a long time to keep their publishers happy. That means constantly adding new content and trying to appeal to people who haven’t already been convinced to become citizens of their digital worlds.
Could Square Enix throw in some low-effort collaborations with popular brands and bring even more people into its massive online world? Quite possibly. But in the long run, it would rob the game of some of its magic. Where other games might be happy to throw in a few demon horn cosmetics and call it a day, Final Fantasy XIV’s collaborations are defined by their depth. That means it gets fewer overall, but I’d take that over a constant drip of bargain bin crossovers any day.