Given Square Enix’s recent financial woes, Final Fantasy XVI’s PS5 exclusivity was questioned by some. The game’s confinement to a single platform was bound to hurt its sales. In our review of the game we remarked that some of the texture work, and effects present in the game were of last generation quality. The confirmed existence of a PS4 version explains these issues.
But why did Square Enix cancel the aforementioned version?
Yoshida Wanted a Fast Loading (Moving) Story Driven Game
According to GameSpot, Yoshida made an appearance on The AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook YouTube channel in which he discussed the development of Final Fantasy XVI.
“Originally, we were expecting to have a multi-platform release on PlayStation 4 as well. And to some extent, the assets were pushing the PlayStation 4 to its absolute limits.But in the end, the Final Fantasy series has a certain level of graphical fidelity expected of it, and when we tried to eliminate basically all loading on the PS4 version, there were certain parts where we were having to reduce the quality to a point lower than [Final Fantasy] XV.” Yoshida Explained.
It would be on Yoshida’s suggestion that Square Enix would drop the PS4 version of the game. To be fair, the game heats up the PS5 hardware during the epically long – and particle effect charged – Eikon battles. I am sure the PS4 version would had suffered massive drops in resolution, and perhaps frame-rate, in order to accommodate for those battles, and visual sequences.
Was Canning the PS4 Version the Right Move?
Quality wise? Yes. Financially? No. Despite the cutting of corners, including making the game look ‘worse’ than Final Fantasy XV in spots, in order to make a viable PS4 version, I do believe that FFXVI would have sold a few more million copies had it been released on the PS4.
Higher sales against a drop of visual quality is something that Square Enix Executives took into account when making their decision in canning the PS4 version. They chose quality over a higher financial profit, which was the honorable thing to do, especially given their less than ideal financial situation for the year.
Still, one could make the argument that more visually demanding games like Ragnarok, and Forbidden West made it to the PS4 in stellar fashion, but Square Enix isn’t as proficient as Sony’s western Studios are at optimizing for Sony’s own hardware. So, for Yoshuda and team, it was likely a nightmare scenario to try to optimize for two (three if we count the PS4 Pro) hardware configurations with a vast gulf in power between them.
These issues might have led to a longer development cycle, and perhaps, certain postponements which is rarely a good thing for companies, and fans.
Given what we know, it was for the best that Final Fantasy XVI turned into a PS5 exclusive. The game was one of the better story driven experiences of 2023.
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