Final Fantasy 14's live-action TV series is 'dead' due to a scale that 'proved too much', with Covid-19 twisting the knife

An image of Live-Action Estinien from Final Fantasy 14, a dragoon in spiked armor, used for a series of advertisements.
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Back in 2019, a live-action version of Final Fantasy 14—the critically-acclaimed MMORPG with an expanded free trial, you know the one—was in the works. Announced as a collaboration between Sony Pictures Television and Hivemind (responsible for Netflix's The Witcher series), it seemed like a natural pairing.

Unfortunately, it looks like that particular project is dead in the water according to Hivemind's co-founder Dinesh Shamdasani on Twitter. When asked for an update on the project, he responds that it's "Dead." He continues to write: 

"We took around a fantastic pilot script by Ben Lustig & [Jake Thornton] along with a multi-season plan they built with our show runners but got rejected across the board. The size and scale needed to do it right proved too much for anyone to want to risk. Amazon came closest."

Jake Thornton, a scriptwriter on the project, also noted that the project's failure "was a real result of Covid unfortunately. We took it out just as studios began to zip up their purse strings."

So, that's it—no live-action chocobos, no Cid Garlond and his glorious white locks, and no revolutionary catboy SFX. I feel a touch disappointed, since it would be nice to share the world I've come to appreciate without forcing someone through 200 hours of (very good) RPG story. But I can't help but wonder if this is all for the best.

The Witcher's Netflix series did well, but The Witcher is far more grounded as a setting. Its monsters, environments, and special effects are allowed to be muted and understated. Meanwhile, most of Final Fantasy 14's cast would require some degree of finesse—either practical costuming or special effects—to pull off.

That's saying nothing of the setting itself. Garlean war machines, skyscraper-sized crystals, ancient ruins, primals, Tataru—all of these things would be major pains in the rear to handle from a production standpoint. All for an end result that seriously risks becoming uncanny. I mean, just try to picture a live-action lalafell. It could easily tip over into the stuff of nightmares.

I think FF14 suits an anime or 3D adaptation a lot more—something in the stylings of Sousou no Frieren or Arcane. It'd be far easier to lean into what makes FF14 appealing, sidestepping the risk of cosplay vibes entirely. Besides, we've all seen live-action Estinien. I'm just not sure it'd work.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.