In a bit of a watershed moment, Square Enix’s enduring MMORPG, Final Fantasy 14 is heading to Xbox consoles.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer was invited on stage during the Final Fantasy Fan Fest in Las Vegas to make the announcement, with Final Fantasy 14 set to arrive in full on Xbox Series X|S in Spring 2024, and an open beta planned before that using version 6.5X. FFXIV will have full cross-platform multiplayer.
The Xbox announcement came alongside the reveal of the next big expansion, Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail, which Square Enix described as being “the very best summer vacation” when it arrives in Summer 2024. It also featured a character looking at a curious green fruit – a cute nod to Xbox’s green branding, perhaps?
Spencer branded this as a “seminal” moment, and expects that the companies will look to work more closely in future, but it also feels like we’ve been at this point several times in the past.
Square Enix has always been more closely aligned with Sony since the launch of the PlayStation and the massive success of Final Fantasy VII. Through the PS2 era, mainline Final Fantasy games were all PlayStation exclusives, until they were convinced to go multi-platform with Final Fantasy XIII, at a point where Xbox 360 had rough parity with PlayStation globally, and was dominant in North America.
Through the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 generation, though, that relationship seemingly cooled. Yes, Final Fantasy XV was cross-platform, but various Final Fantasy remasters were PS4 exclusives, and Final Fantasy VII Remake was a full PS4 console exclusive. Microsoft were able to bring a lot of these historical games to Xbox and to Xbox Game Pass through 2019 and 2020, many of them on Xbox for the first time, but the last few years have seemed pretty frosty between the two companies. FF7 Remake and its sequel have remained PlayStation exclusives, and Final Fantasy 16 has just released on PS5 with only hints that it might come to PC at some point. In general, it’s felt like Square Enix games have had a roughly 50:50 shot of coming to Xbox alongside PlayStation, Switch and PC.
Still, we know that Microsoft has been making overtures for a closer partnership, and Final Fantasy 14 has been high on Xbox owner wishlists since its 2014 relaunch. The game goes from strength to strength on PlayStation and PC, with regular major expansions and big updates that almost invariably see Square Enix butting up against the limits of their server capacity. In October 2021 it had over 24 million registered players and was Final Fantasy’s most profitable entry, no doubt thanks to the monthly subscriptions!
It’s great to see this game finally coming to Xbox and a broader audience, and hopefully we’ll see a slightly closer partnership between Xbox and Square Enix in future.