The Inverse Interview

FFXIV Director Says “Maybe We’d Do a Pixel Version,” If the MMO Ever Gets an Offline Game

Looking to the future.

Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail
Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki Yoshida gets a pained look on his face when I ask a question about the far future of the popular MMO: a time, likely decades away, when the game will inevitably shut down. Video game preservation has become an increasingly important topic as technology advances, and it’s something I’ve thought about quite often with this game. More than any other MMO out there, FFXIV is beloved for its story and characters, which many say are some of the best of the entire Final Fantasy franchise. So what happens to those stories in the future?

“It’s hard to picture XIV shutting down at the moment, so we haven’t really put any thought into it,” Yoshida tells Inverse, “But that being said, if we were going to think about doing an offline version, it’s going to take a lot of resources. On the development team, we’d joke, ‘If we were going to do an offline version of XIV, maybe we’d do a pixel version.’ Some people might actually enjoy that kind of depiction of the game.”

Dawntrail is bringing Final Fantasy XIV’s first graphics update since the launch of A Realm Reborn, but there’s more than one reason for it.

Square Enix

Yoshida has shepherded Final Fantasy XIV the entire way since its relaunch as A Realm Reborn in 2013, but before that, he worked as one of the chief planners on Dragon Quest X. Coincidentally, in 2022, Dragon Quest X did receive an “offline version” in Japan, although it’s never made its way to the West. Perhaps an offline version is in the cards for Final Fantasy XIV someday, but it’s understandable that it’s not the most prescient thought on Yoshida’s mind with Dawntrail right around the corner.

The newest expansion feels like a reset for the massive MMO, the start of a new foundation that’ll keep FFXIV going for yet another decade. Dawntrail is bringing dozens of job changes, quality-of-life additions, and unique new content. This is alongside the game’s first graphical update in a decade, which is already no small feat.

But the changes, particularly the graphical update, aren’t solely for the benefit of its players, but also its developers. Yoshida tells Inverse it’s part of an effort to cultivate younger members of the team.

“This may apply to any company or gaming studio, but it’s quite important to make sure we’re looking at a new generation of talent and making sure that we are bringing in those talents,” Yoshida says, “Because Creative Studio 3 (the team behind FFXIV) is developing at a very rapid pace, keeping up with patch schedules and an expansion every couple years, it is well-suited to providing experience for young developers.”

The job changes in Dawntrail may not please everyone, but they feel necessary for the MMO to move forward.

Square Enix

In line with this idea, Yoshida explains that the graphical updates being applied with Dawntrail uses tools that are more in line with the modern era, versus what was used before. This should, hopefully, give fresh graduates a sort of “training ground” to improve their skills while working on Final Fantasy XIV.

That’s a pretty forward-thinking philosophy, especially at a turbulent time when layoffs and closures have rocked the industry. It’s becoming harder and riskier than ever to make big video games, with a clear trend of AAA games becoming homogenized and too similar. Just look at the swathe of open world games, hero shooters, or live service offerings. Even an MMO like FFXIV isn’t safe from these trends, and there have been growing complaints from players that dungeons are becoming too similar with less unique mechanics, and there’s not enough diversity between the nearly two dozen jobs. Dawntrail is the first step in addressing those concerns.

“If we continue to do the same things over and over again, both sides, players and developers, will start to get tired of the same things being repeated,” Yoshida tells Inverse, “We are trying to evolve as an MMORPG, which means because we have so many players joining FFXIV, we should also have content that allows for a large number of people, or maybe it’s a competitive element that has you going against other players.”

Dawntrail, and its patch series, is bringing new gameplay modes to FFXIV, including a new cozy mode that follows in the footsteps of Island Sanctuary.

Square Enix

Every expansion brings new dungeons and activities, but there seems to be an emphasis on “new” experiences this time around. Dawntrail and its patch series will be adding a new cozy lifestyle feature called “Cosmic Exploration,” new regular and Alliance raids, the return of field operations, and more.

Dawntrail feels like it could be a turning point for FFXIV. The game already has a massive fanbase, but if it wants to stick around for decades to come, it needs to do something to attract newcomers.

“It’s important for us to look at the challenges we can take on, and give the impression to our players that something large is coming,” Yoshida says, “We’re still going, and we don’t want to stop that momentum.”

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail launches on July 2 for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Related Tags