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Final Fantasy 15 release date narrowed down to 2016

Director Tabata apologies for underwhelming Gamescom showing.

Final Fantasy 15's release date has been narrowed down to 2016, 10 years after it first broke cover in its initial guise as Final Fantasy Versus 13.

Hajime Tabata, Final Fantasy 15's director, told Eurogamer the news as he mulled over the negative reaction to the game's Gamescom showing.

Yesterday, during an hour-long Active Time Report ivestream (catch up in the video, below), Square Enix released a new cutscene-heavy trailer and a slim slice of gameplay showing the Malboro monster take out Noctis and co in a new swamp area.

Many Final Fantasy fans said they felt underwhelmed by the ATR report, given Square Enix had said previously Final Fantasy 15 was set to star at Gamescom after skipping E3.

"We looked at the reactions to yesterday's ATR, and we understand that people expected a big information update at Gamescom, and we do understand that we really disappointed people, and we're really regretful about that," Tabata said.

"We came to Gamescom this year with our plan - having people who know the series and people who don't we wanted to introduce the information on a level playing field. We miscalculated the kind of expectations towards this event, especially for what people want to see at this show. There was a big gap between our perceptions of what people should be doing and what people expected. And we realised that very quickly after the reaction!

"We really wanted to say something else, so we've got something we'd like to say - you won't be waiting until 2017. We want to get that across. We want to reassure people that we are going to get it out."

Tabata took over the reigns of Final Fantasy 15 last year, as Tetsuya Nomura moved on to focus on Kingdom Hearts 3. Since then we've had a playable demo in the form of Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae - and even an update to that demo.

But most are now waiting for Square Enix to announce a release date for Final Fantasy 15. Indeed, many had hoped the company would use Gamescom as a venue for such an announcement.

Tabata told Eurogamer that a 2016 release date for Final Fantasy 15 is in line with initial plans made when Final Fantasy 15 took its change of direction.

"We set our objective when we switched over the development from Versus 13, and it's not moved a great deal since then - it's pretty much where it was," he said.

"To give you a bit of background, when I took on responsibility for 15, what we wanted to achieve with Versus 13 wasn't coming together so we had to change it. I was given a mission by the management, with what I had to achieve with this game. They said, 'you've got this much budget, you have to have it out at this date,' and that made us think how to make the best game we can with that. They won't let me go over that!

"I said to the management, that can compete in terms with the triple-A titles - they're the parameters that I have," Tabata pointed out. "It might be easy to misunderstand, and that I have limited conditions - it's not like that at all. I made sure we had enough time, money and people to make it the kind of experience I want it to be. I've got everything I need to do the job."

As to how progress is going on Final Fantasy 15, Tabata said all is running smoothly, even if some elements of making a high profile game have taken him by surprise.

"Development's going well since I've taken over as director," he said. "It's all on schedule! One thing I wasn't expecting was the backlash from the people who'd followed the game from early on, and its first version. The negative reaction was quite surprising.

"If you think what you normally do in the games industry, the idea that a game that hasn't come out yet and is still in development, where you change characters etc, that's not something new or different, it happens all the time. Especially in the case of 15, when we changed that and made that announcement, a lot of people saw that and weren't ready. That surprised me quite a bit. I was taken aback, obviously, and I thought, maybe I hadn't prepared for that, and I should have foreseen that and have a message to show people what we're going to do so they're not nervous about it."

The last mainline Final Fantasy game was 13, which released in 2009 and received two direct sequels. Will 15 also receive multiple games in its world?

"We really want to get it so the main game is a complete experience on its own - that's a big predication before we do anything else," Tabata said. "In particular, Japanese gamers are very picky about having things that effect it being a complete experience.

"We have expectations and plans in place for various contingencies. If it does well and people enjoy it, very naturally people will want to spend more time in that world. We've been setting up possibilities and contingencies plans for having tales and experiences in that world. Before that, in the same way they gave me a chance to make the game, it'd be good to have younger development talent opportunities to take on those projects."

The next stop along the marketing road for Final Fantasy 15 is PAX Prime, set to be held at the end of August. Perhaps then the release date will be announced.

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