Microsoft and Square Enix have announced a new partnership for the return of the Final Fantasy franchise to Xbox, starting with “Final Fantasy XIV”. With the future takeover of Activision Blizzard and “The Elder Scrolls Online” already available on the console, Microsoft could make its console the leader in MMORPGs.
Phil Spencer had something to smile about. The Microsoft Gaming boss was the surprise guest at the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival 2023 in Las Vegas to announce the return of the Final Fantasy franchise to Xbox Series X and Series S consoles. Final Fantasy XVI, Final Fantasy VII Remake or the Pixel Remaster Collection were not released on Xbox.
The outcome of very long negotiations
The arrival of Final Fantasy XIV on Xbox was a long-time fan request. The MMORPG has grown in popularity on PlayStation and PC over the past few years and now boasts over 27 million registered players. The port to Xbox was first announced by Microsoft in 2019 when the firm signed with Square Enix the arrival of several episodes of Kingdom Hearts And Final Fantasy on Xbox Game Pass. However, this announcement had never materialized on the side of Square Enix until the announcement on Friday July 28, 2023.
Behind the scenes, we understand through interviews interposed over the last few years of Phil Spencer and Naoki Yoshida, producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV, that Microsoft and Square Enix have long disagreed over the terms of this port. For example, Microsoft was once opposed to crossplay, the possibility for Xbox players to participate in the same games as PlayStation and PC players. The firm has since changed this position. For its part, Square Enix probably had other priorities than the development of an Xbox version, a platform known to be a more difficult market for Japanese games.
All of these issues appear to have been resolved. Final Fantasy XIV is officially scheduled to arrive on Xbox in the spring of 2024. It remains to be seen whether an Xbox Game Pass Core subscription will be required to play it. On PlayStation, PlayStation Plus subscription is not required. However, Xbox players will have the chance to discover the new trial version of the game. The latter allows free play of the MMORPG up to level 70 and now includes the first two expansions of the game Heavensward and Stormblood. An open beta version will be offered ahead of launch, with no details on timing.
Xbox could become the king of MMORPGs
With the acquisition of Bethesda and the future takeover of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft has got its hands on cult licenses in several genres. The firm can now boast of being a leader in FPS with franchises like call of duty, Halo, Overwatch Or Doom. We can also mention the Western RPG genre thanks to the takeovers of Bethesda, Obsidian or InXile. From now on, it’s the MMORPG that seems destined to shine on Xbox.
Indeed, Microsoft already offers The Elder Scrolls Online on his console, and can now wait for the arrival of Final Fantasy XIV. With the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the firm could well offer an Xbox version of World of Warcraft. The three MMORPGs would then be offered on the same game console.
By signing the arrival of the game on the near horizon, Microsoft also secures the presence of Final Fantasy XIV on its platform. Since the beginning of the PS5 generation, Sony has had a very close relationship with Square Enix. This can raise the idea of a future merger between the two long-standing partners. If this were to happen, Sony would have to continue supporting the game on Xbox as it does for Destiny 2 and as Microsoft continues to support The Elder Scrolls Online on Playstation.