Final Fantasy 16 is doing its last lap of console previews ahead of a release next month, though sadly on PC we're not going to be playing it anytime soon. More concerning, though, is something Yoshida told GQ UK in an interview today: there have been talks "with the higher-ups" at Square Enix about ditching the numbers for the Final Fantasy series because they can be confusing for new players.
"A lot of players are going to come in and they're going to look at it like a comic book where you have to read from the beginning to know what's going on now," Yoshida said. "It's hard for marketing because every numbered title that we release in the series, we have to go into it like, 'It’s OK, you don't have to play the rest of them."
I get it—16 is a pretty big number. It takes years to learn how to count that high, and the idea of there being 15 other numbers you have to think about before you get to 16? Pretty intimidating. There's also the roman numeral challenge factor. We use plain ol' numbers here on PC Gamer, but officially the game's Final Fantasy XVI. How are children supposed to play this now-M-rated series if they can't even read the name!?
Yoshida also argues, reasonably, that continuing to number each new game in the series could cause problems for his first and primary love, the MMO Final Fantasy 14. "You get a new player coming in and it's like, 'Wait a minute, why do I have to play Final Fantasy 14 if 16 is out?'" he imagined. "Why don't we just call it Final Fantasy Online—just get rid of the number altogether, and that'll make it easier to understand."
Other than the fact that this is unforgivable Final Fantasy 11 erasure, I sympathize with the point. But to this I present my indisputable counterpoint: a history of videogame names from Square Enix that don't merely rely on a number to communicate that they're a new entry in a longrunning series.
- Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
- Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
- Bravely Second: End Layer (not to be confused with Bravely Default II)
- Final Fantasy Type-0
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord
- Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade
- Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
- War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
This is not even mentioning the atrocities Square has committed with non-sequels like The Quiet Man, Various Daylife, and SINoALICE. Square Enix weaponizes words like few other game publishers in the business. I refuse to learn how to pronounce "SINoALICE" or "Exvius" and can't imagine what the next Final Fantasy would be called if they dropped the numbers. I already have decades of practice saying "seventeen." Don't tell me that was for nothing!
And you know, as ridiculous as all those names are, they're no worse than western game studios' obsession with rebooting series, making it exhaustive to Google or discuss each version:
- God of War (2005) & God of War (2018)
- Doom (1993) & Doom (2016)
- Prey (2006) & Prey (2017)
- Tomb Raider (1996) & Tomb Raider (2013)
- Mortal Kombat (1992) & Mortal Kombat (2011) & Mortal Kombat 1 (2023)
Whenever another game series ditches numbering, odds are good we'll end up seeing one of these generic subtitles slapped onto them instead:
Today, I give thanks to Capcom for the strong, pure Street Fighter 6 rather than Street Fighter Legends or Street Fighter: Unleashed. And I thank Final Fantasy 16 for not just being called Final Fantasy. Google search is already hanging by a thread. Don't go breaking the internet, for all our sakes, Square Enix. Just keep those numbers where they belong.