Console Versions of Final Fantasy XV '100x more difficult' to Develop Than Windows Edition
That's saying something, coming from a primarily console game development company.
Final Fantasy XV took a very long time to be developed. Years of work finally came together last November in a thankfully positive way. When it launched, the game sold 5 million units during its first day of launch, but it also shot PS4 sales up 227 percent in Japan.
After a well-deserved rest, game director Hajime Tabata came back with a fire in his belly, preparing for two new versions of the game. The first is an episodic version of the game called Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition for iOS and Android coming later this year. It's essentially a cutesy, smaller version of the game. The second is a full-fledged version of the main title for PC called Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition, set to launch in early 2018. That doesn't even include the ongoing work on DLC, one of which is a multiplayer expansion that enables four-player co-op.
The PC version will be receiving this DLC, all previous DLC, and will also support 4K and 8K resolutions, high dynamic range, and Dolby Atmos surround sound. Lastly, it will also come with a first-person mode and the ability to feature mods.
So why don't we have to wait years for this version like we did for the initial console version? The short answer is: Game development is weird.
The long answer is obviously a bit more complicated.
“We felt a necessity for a PC version right after starting the development of the console version, and we began strengthening our game engines with the help of Nvidia in 2016 in anticipation of any projects that might come after the console version,” says Tabata.
Developing a port of a game is more complicated than clicking "Export as PC Game" in a development program. Most of the core processes have to be rebuilt from the ground up. However, as stated above, they considered a PC port immediately after starting the console version's development. When processes changed during the development of the console version, things had to be torn down and rebuilt, which is a time-consuming process. Development on the Windows Edition only started this year, after all the issues were smoothed out during the console version, which left a much clearer blueprint for them to work off of.
As such, with so much room to breathe, Square Enix has decided to go all out with this definitive version.
“Our aim is to make players want to play the PC version, even if they know about the console version. Moreover, by pursuing the PC version, it led us to improving our own development skills. By collaborating with Nvidia, we weren’t just able to make a PC version of the game; we were able to challenge ourselves in ensuring that we had the latest technological graphics.
“We saw this as an advantage for both the development team and the player. Players will expect the game to have evolved because we are providing a higher quality depiction than the current consoles out there. If we are able to meet such demands, then it gives meaning to doing this in the first place.”
As a company that's been console-loyal for a long time, it may be surprising to see such a push to appease PC gamers, but it's ultimately Tabata's goal to get as many people playing their game as possible. Who can fault him for that? Especially when it means more of what fans loved in the first place.