Yoshinori Kitase, producer of Final Fantasy XIII-2, has hinted that the next iteration of Final Fantasy could see it drift away from its turn-based roots and be an action-RPG.
In an interview, Kitane told us that the increasing popularity of action-RPGs compared to their turn-based equivalents represented "a trend…you ignore at your peril."
"I think the nature of the franchise is to present something new each time," Kitase said. "In the global market we see many players moving away from games that used turn-based systems toward what you might term an action-RPG.
"That's a trend, and you ignore things like that at your peril."
Kitase went on to say that changes introduced in Final Fantasy XIII showed that the series was moving forward with each iteration – but left the door wide open for more subtantial changes to be made in the next full game in the series.
"FFXIII and FFXIII-2's battle systems have those elements of speed and action that are the key words for us, though that doesn't necessarily mean we're going to stick to the same route in our next game," he said. "That's something only time can tell."
Despite its long history as a turn-based RPG, it wouldn’t be too surprising were Square Enix to take the Final Fantasy series in a new direction. While five million copies of 2009's Final Fantasy XIII were shipped worldwide, the online RPG Final Fantasy XIV has had a dismal time of it since its launch in September 2010.
Last December, Square Enix announced a delay to the PS3 version of the game following the PC release's dismal reception. CEO Yoichi Wada offered the company's "sincerest apologies"; producer Hiromichi Tanaka stood down, and was replaced by Naoki Yoshida; the dev team was reshuffled; and the free trial period was extended indefinitely.
In September, Wada conceded: "The Final Fantasy brand has been greatly damaged," and confirmed that the team was "basically fully redoing the game." Further evidence that the publisher recognises the need for change came from senior executive officer Koji Taguchi, who said in June that Square Enix's "decline in Japanese titles [shown at E3] was almost humiliating." Just one game of Japanese origin was shown at the conference: Final Fantasy XIII-2.