Features / Weekly Musings

Was Final Fantasy XV's Delay Due To PS4 Pro? Unlikely

Was Final Fantasy XV's Delay Due To PS4 Pro? Unlikely

Written by Darryl — 22 Sep 2016

The days surrounding the now infamous delay of Final Fantasy XV were somewhat chaotic. This is a game that has been plagued with challenges since its inception as Final Fantasy Versus XIII and then re-imagination as Final Fantasy XV, and the delay, after everything that had come before, was just too much for some people.

Delays are, of course, frustrating for numerous reasons. Whether it’s the sheer fact that people have been anticipating this for so long, or the difficulties surrounding booked holiday time, it’s just never nice when it happens. In this instance, it was made far worse by Square Enix putting on such a colossal showcase six months prior to the intended release date, to announce said release date. However, as the famous Miyamoto adage goes, “a delayed game is eventually good”.

Upon the release of Hajime Tabata’s video explaining the reason for the delay, many people were left somewhat satisfied. It felt legitimate and it took some serious guts to front up and explain why the release date Square Enix had pumped up so much, would no longer be hit. Tabata’s reasoning was simple; the game just isn’t ready from a technical standpoint. They therefore wanted to forego the use of a mammoth day one patch, instead choosing to integrate the patch into the game so that those without internet connections would not be left with a less than satisfactory technical experience. In some ways it’s a valiant stance, day one patches, while more efficient from a development standpoint, are a serious barrier to experiencing the game. The Elder Scrolls Online, for example, featured a 15GB patch at launch. But was this the sole reason for Final Fantasy XV’s delay? I still believe so.

When the delay was first rumoured, I jumped on the podcast and presented, as a joke, the notion that Final Fantasy XV’s delay could have also been influenced by Sony’s impending announcement of the then dubbed PS4 Neo. And if you want to look at things from that perspective, you can connect some dots, but I don’t feel as though there is a great deal of substances there.

Now, before I get onto the reasons why, I would like to address an interview with Tabata that happened at E3. Kotaku asked him point blank whether or not the team had been working on either the Scorpio or the Neo. In reply, Tabata said “No, we haven’t started anything... I first learned about Scorpio at the [Microsoft] conference.” When then pressed for further comment, Tabata said “It’d be really great though if we could have Final Fantasy XV to play on the current-generation Xbox One and PS4 and also give them [gamers] that choice that when the new, stronger-generation hardware comes out, to have them play at that level as well.”

That sounds like a logical answer given what was known at the time, but it was curious to see Tabata initially brush off the mention of the Neo and focus on the Scorpio. Either way it does pose an interesting question. Where they working on the Neo version behind the scenes, but just couldn’t announce until PlayStation Meeting, or were they genuinely doing nothing?

At the time, nothing was read into Tabata’s comments as there was little to suggest the game would not meet its street date. However, at the PlayStation Meeting event on the 7th of September (ironically the same day as the Final Fantasy XV Abbey Road concert), it was announced that Final Fantasy XV would be supporting PS4 Pro functionality.

In the weeks that followed, it was then announced that not only would Final Fantasy XV support PS4 Pro functionality, it would also be able to do immediately when the game launches on its new street date. Oh, and they also announced a special edition PS4 Slim based around Luna.

Now, the PS4 Slim is already out, so that was clearly a pre-planned promotional tool for the original release date, but if they do announce a special edition PS4 Pro, then the conspiracy theories will indeed have a field day!

Anyway, I digress. Let us move back to the original reason for the delay; fixing up the base game from a technical perspective. You could argue that adding in technical improvements for the PS4 Pro version would only serve to add further complications. If they were truly in dire straights to the point where they had to delay the game, would they not be better served focusing on sorting that out and making it the best possible experience, as opposed to focusing on yet another random distraction? Well yes, of course they would, but to answer that question more fully, I would point to the other evidence at hand.

Looking back at the answer Tabata gave at E3 regarding working on the Neo, the first option I presented, that they were working on it already, but just couldn’t say, does seem more likely.

Given the amount of games that will come out in support of the PS4 Pro, this cannot have been something they have just decided to shoehorn in at the last minute because they have a bit of extra time to play with. As seen with games such as Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us Remastered, they could have easily patched it in later - why did they need to have it available for launch? They didn’t. And that adds credence to the fact that work on the PS4 Pro must have just been the initial plan.

The biggest argument for that would be FIFA 17. Even though we, as Final Fantasy fans, don’t like to often admit it, there are much bigger fish in the sea. Right now, there is considerably more hype about FIFA 17 being on PS4 Pro than Final Fantasy XV and that releases tomorrow, almost two months before the PS4 Pro. With this game, it’s being treated as additional functionality will be patched in later.

Between now and the release of the PS4 Pro, there are also plenty of heavy hitters, such as Battlefield 1 and of course, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Watchdogs 2 and Dishonored 2 will be releasing right at the same time as the PS4 Pro, and Final Fantasy XV is the only announced game so far to be releasing after the PS4 Pro, at least from this year’s line-up.

It therefore seems very plausible that everything aside from the delay, is just proceeding as planned. Yes, some of the marketing will have had to change, but given the intended release of the PS4 Slim, that was likely to have been announced when it was, even with the original release date. Likewise, I can’t see why they wouldn’t have announced Final Fantasy XV supporting 4K when they did. The only difference is that it will now be supporting it at launch, as opposed to six weeks after launch.

Yes, the timing of these announcements make everything frustrating and it’s easy to draw certain conclusions, but when you look at it objectively, you can see that this was all just part of a much larger plan. The delay has disrupted it and made people look for answers, answers that are quite easy to debunk. The only thing that would throw things out of kilter is that dubious special edition PS4 Pro that has been jokingly rumoured, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens with that. Again though, even if it is announced, that could easily have been part of the PS4 Pro’s intended launch campaign.

So in summary, to those who are saying this is all just too convenient, I’d say, calm down a little and just be excited that things have transpired as they have. Not only will we now get a much better game at launch, and we will also be able to experience 4K graphics at launch, which before the delay, was never a possibility!

Things, are looking good!

Darryl was playing Final Fantasy before he was even born - quite a feat! Often very opinionated on the Final Fantasy franchise, you will often find him musing about small details. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.