Why Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is Current-Gen Exclusive (The Real Reason)

March 16, 2015 Written by Heath Hindman

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There’s been a lot of netwide discussion about why Final Fantasy Type-0 got passed up for a Vita release. In multiple public appearances, director Hajime Tabata has laughed it off and claimed that his eyesight has gotten bad, so he needs a bigger screen to play it. But if you believe everything a company says in public, you’re going to be kept in the dark quite often. The jokey deflection is just that: a polite way of saying, “I’d rather not explain that to you.” There are things he’s not allowed to tell you. So I will.

We know that Tabata took the reins on Final Fantasy XV back in 2012, when it was still called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. To be blunt, Tetsuya Nomura wasn’t getting it done. The man has done some good work, but putting products on shelves with speed has never been his strong point. Square Enix needed a new director for its most talked-about project. Hajime Tabata had done a marvelous job on Crisis Core and Type-0, and furthermore, he got them out in a timely manner.

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He had it all: swiftness, series familiarity, and a reputation for quality products. He was just the guy to put in charge of a numbered Final Fantasy. Except….

Except he, unlike Nomura, hadn’t been working with PS2, much less PS3 or PS4 games. He’d headed up mobile and PSP projects exclusively, never a console game. Nomura might not have put out a game on those systems by that time, but at least he and his crew had been working with them (kind of). Tabata had a lot to learn.

The solution? Final Fantasy Type-0 HD.

Its foundation had already been made — there were no levels to design, no battle system to draw up/program/test, no story to write, no need to go hire a composer, none of the usual stuff that a brand new game would require. Such a project could be brought up, worked on, and released without slowing down Final Fantasy XV‘s progress too much.

By bringing the PSP’s Type-0 onto Ps4 and Xbox One, Tabata and his team have become familiar enough with larger-scale development and higher budgets. They can therefore move onto Final Fantasy XV with much more comfort and essential experience that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Square Enix’s top brass can also breath more easily, knowing that they’re not moving the project into the hands of a console rookie.

Having an additional Vita version, however, requires that extra bit of manpower, changeover, and resources. The more important priority for Square Enix is with Final Fantasy XV, and therefore, the PS4 and Xbox One. It’s a disappointing circumstance for fans of Sony handhelds who couldn’t play Type-0 on PSP and now can’t play it on Vita either, but it seems fate wouldn’t allow it, at least for now.

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If FFXV hadn’t needed the director juggle, might we have seen a Type-0 Vita release? It would seem likely. Square Enix loves putting its most popular games on any and every system possible, and given the Vita’s success — however modest — in Japan, it would seem like a waste to not put it on there. But when FFXV‘s need for speed is considered, it was a cut that had to be made.

Contrary to what Tabata and Square Enix have thus far said, it’s too early to completely rule out a Vita release. It won’t come soon, if it ever does at all, but I could see it happening in a year or two. Type-0 HD is clearly not a game that couldn’t have been on the PS3 or Vita. It’s a visual upgrade for sure, and it doesn’t look bad, but it openly reuses PSP assets and in general doesn’t reach anything unattainable by PS3 and/or Vita. Again, the move was purely situational necessity.

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But who in their right mind is going to discourage you from buying a game right now? When Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD came out on PS3 and Vita, did they come right out and say, “Buy it!  …Or don’t! Because it’ll come to PS4 too, next year. So there’s no rush guys!” No. Those press releases and ads told us to jump in — to re-experience the classic. You’re not going to find a game company telling you to wait.

The famous line is, “Please Be Excited,” not “Please Be Excited Or Wait a Year.” Know what happens when people wait? Some of them don’t follow through on the commitment, and you don’t get your money. Businesses do not want you to hold out.

Consoles are the way to make money abroad, and since the exchange rates have foreign money getting so much yen these days, that’s the way to go. But domestically, Vita games can do pretty well in Japan. So Square Enix can win twice here. In 2015, release the current-gen-only version of Type-0 HD; then, a year or three later, perhaps after FFXV‘s release date has come and gone, Square Enix has a golden opportunity to make some cash from the Japanese audience and the handheld audience abroad, all while looking super good and saying, “We listen to our fans!” They can make some cash, score good PR, and all on a justifiably relaxed schedule. They’d be fools not to release Type-0 on Vita eventually.

But in the short term, it simply wasn’t meant to be.