Does this franchise still stand a chance in the future?
Written by Darryl — 23 Sep 2015
It's official, Final Fantasy Agito+ has been cancelled, Final Fantasy Agito will have its service terminated in a few months and they will effectively be replaced by Final Fantasy Type-0 Online, but where exactly does this leave the franchise as a whole? Even before this latest move, the Final Fantasy Agito/Final Fantasy Type series was already a bit of a head scratcher as over the past 10 years, we've had name changes, platform changes and spin-offs created within this infant franchise. It's created a general air of confusion and this latest change, which sees a sort of spin-off being replaced by a game with a different name, does little to help.
The hope with this article is that it will iron some of this out by running through the changes you may or may not know about since its inception, and to do that we will have to start right back at the beginning, in June 2006.
Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy Agito, as we know them now, both started as Final Fantasy Agito XIII, a game announced alongside Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII at E3 2006 to form a trilogy of titles within the Fabula Nova Crystallis sub-franchise. The original intention was that it would piggy-back off of the success of Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII and be a mobile-specific title. This was then re-focussed towards being a title developed for both mobile and PSP (change number one), to finally being announced as PSP exclusive 2 years later in 2008, due to mobile technology not being advanced enough for their vision (change number two).
It took another three years (now 2011) until Final Fantasy Agito XIII was shown again in a public forum and it was at this point in time that we learnt it would be changing its name to Final Fantasy Type-0 (change number three). The game would then release later that year in Japan, five years after its original announcement, but Square Enix were very unsure about releasing the game on PSP outside of Japan this late into the console's lifecycle. It took some time, but this was, of course, later ported to the PS4 and Xbox One as Final Fantasy Type-0 HD in early 2015 (change number four).
Final Fantasy Agito was announced two years later in 2013, but instead of there being an original concept, we learnt that this was actually going to be based off of the original concept for Final Fantasy Agito XIII before it shifted over to the PSP (change number five... as it means Type-0's core concept was changed to the point where another game could also exist). As a result, Final Fantasy Agito would see the franchise back where it was originally intended, on mobile devices. Unlike Final Fantasy Type-0, Final Fantasy Agito had a pretty quick turn-around and ended up releasing in May, 2014.
Now, here's where things get interesting. A few months later, it was announced at E3 2014 that Final Fantasy Agito was going to be localised for the Western market. In addition, at Tokyo Game Show 2014, Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy Agito+, a more substantial version of the game, was entering into development on the PS Vita. Both of these announcements are now deemed completely redundant.
Despite announcing a localisation for Final Fantasy Agito, Square Enix has subsequently stated that they will stop supporting Final Fantasy Agito as of November, 2015. It therefore means that this localisation will not happen (change number six). They have also cancelled Final Fantasy Agito+, due to perceived technical difficulties with the porting process (change number seven). It was announced in March, 2015 that they had encountered a bug and were waiting for Sony's assistance before being able to proceed further. Later that month, it was also announced that Final Fantasy Agito was being ported to Windows 10.
Cue Final Fantasy Type-0 Online.
Following on from the announcement that Final Fantasy Agito would cease and that Final Fantasy Agito+ had been cancelled, Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy Agito would be replaced by the rebranded Final Fantasy Type-0 Online (change number eight). This would be developed by a third-party company called Perfect World, it would now be coming to the PC and mobile, presumably absorbing the previously announced Windows 10 port (change number nine), and Western localisation has gone from being officially confirmed to something that is "under consideration".
Upon reflection, it's still difficult to fathom how such a small franchise can be put through so much turmoil. But now that we're all caught up, there are a few questions that all of this throws up. The first is rather blunt, will we ever actually get to experience the story of Final Fantasy Agito? At this point it's difficult to say. There clearly was an appetite prior to the release of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, but perhaps sales performance when it released dampened that enthusiasm. Clearly Square Enix still feel there is potential for this franchise within the Asian market otherwise Final Fantasy Type-0 Online wouldn't even exist.
The second question therefore is, does this officially mean the Final Fantasy Agito brand is now dead? Square Enix could have easily branded Final Fantasy Type-0 Online as Final Fantasy Agito Online, or even kept the Final Fantasy Agito+ brand. They have instead, perhaps to strengthen its proposition, chosen to consolidate the brands under one banner for the Asian market moving forward. Given the flexibility Square Enix will have should they choose to proceed with further iterations (Type-1, Type-2, etc.), it's difficult to see them ever going back to the Agito brand.
The third question relates to the sheer turmoil that this sub-franchise has gone through. Can this franchise continue to survive after so many critical changes? If you aren't following it closely, it's not too difficult to see why people would be confused and therefore put-off by the theatrics. There have been core platform changes - and this isn't even including the false promise of receiving Final Fantasy Type-0 on PS Vita - there have been name changes and there have also been reneged promises relating to localisation - again already a sore subject due to the lengthy silence surrounding Final Fantasy Type-0 in the first place.
If this franchise is going to be a success for Square Enix on a global scale moving forward, they will have to be very careful with how it's handled. For now, it's turned into nothing more than a side-attraction, for the wrong reasons. If they want to grow it, the next big opportunity lies with Final Fantasy Type-1/Next, but everything will need to be much more joined up if they want to avoid another Crystal Chronicles.