It has been announced on November 7, 2018 that Hajime Tabata is departing from his position at Square Enix which included Game Director of Final Fantasy XV for PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox as well as Game Director of 2007’s Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII for PlayStation Portable (a beloved fan favorite), among others. The decision was explained to fans in a heartfelt letter revealed during the pre-recorded Final Fantasy XV Second Anniversary Special Program broadcast to fans in Japan with Japanese subtitles.
Although this news is certainly disappointing and has resulted in the cancellation of almost all Final Fantasy XV DLC (yes, there was more in development), it can also be understandable from certain perspectives. Tabata was a director of dedicated handheld games who took the reigns of directing FFXV for Tetsuya Nomura who needed to walk away from the project to complete the repeatedly delayed Kingdom Hearts III project. It does feel saddening to see any type of negative Final Fantasy news in a time where some fans could see the series as fragile, having nearly entered a period of peril.
Hajime Tabata has been working on video games since his first day out of college and is responsible for a lot of gaming moments that fans may have enjoyed. Earlier during the day we covered the possibility of an FFVII spin-off compilation and spoke at length about a Japan-exclusive Mobile game known as Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII. Hajime Tabata was the Game Director behind this title in addition to the 2007 PSP hit Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and also holds a number of other credits in the industry including the following:
- Monster Rancher 2 (PS1, 1999) – Event Director
- Deception III: Dark Delusion (PS1, 1999) – Event Director
- Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII (Mobile, 2004) – Game Director
- Last Order: Final Fantasy VII (Anime, 2005) – Special Thanks
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP, 2007) – Game Director
- Kingdom Hearts Coded (Mobile, 2008-10) – Co-Director
- The 3rd Birthday (PSP, 2010) – Game Director
- Final Fantasy Type-0 (PSP, 2011) – Game Director, Scenario Designer
- Final Fantasy Agito (iOS / Android, 2014) – Producer
- Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (PS4 / Xbox / PC) – Producer, Game Director
- Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (iOS / Android, 2015) – Special Thanks
- Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (Film, 2016) – Special Thanks
- Final Fantasy XV (PS4 / Xbox, 2016) – Game Director
- King’s Knight: Wrath of the Dark Dragon (iOS / Android, 2017) – Special Thanks
- Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary (PS4 / PS Vita, 2017) – Special Thanks
- Final Fantasy Dimensions II (iOS / Android, 2017) – Special Thanks
- Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV (PS4 / PSVR, 2017) – Producer
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (PS4, 2018) – Special Thanks
- Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (iOS / Android, 2018) – Producer
He is also widely regarded as being responsible for the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn project in which Square Enix had tasked Tabata with fixing the MMORPG when met with massive fan backlash upon its release. It has went on since Tabata’s help to become a success.
According to Tabata, he already knows what he wants to do next. It is a special project, and a big challenge. This requires him to step down from his position after successfully launching and supporting FFXV for two years and even start his own company. We deeply thank Tabata for salvaging the Final Fantasy Versus XIII project announced by Square Enix at E3 2006 which eventually turned into what we now call 2017’s Final Fantasy XV. We sincerely hope he is able to find himself in a position to announce a new video game that the world will love and is an exciting project for him to develop.
In terms of the remaining FFXV DLC which was planned for release, Tabata had this to say:
“As production of Episode Ardyn continues and Luminous Productions works on new projects, I felt that it was time for me to hand over the torch to the next generation group of talented and trustworthy colleagues and believe that they will create something amazing.
From this day on, I will cheer on and support Square Enix and Luminous Productions together with all you fans.
I would like to thank everyone who continue to support FFXV and those who have also supported myself personally.”
Square Enix provided confirmation detailing the cancellation of Final Fantasy XV The Dawn of the Future, Episode Side Story Aranea “The Beginning of the End”, Episode II Lunafreya “The Choice of Freedom”, and Episode III Noctis “The Final Strike”.
Final Fantasy Episode Ardyn will continue production under Takefumi Terada’s direction with Yuji Shinoda serving as its producer and is expected to release on PS4, Xbox, and PC platforms some time during March 2019.
There’s also an animated short film being produced alongside this DLC called Final Fantasy XV Episode Ardyn Prologue which is expected to be given teaser trailers on December 15, 2018 and January 10, 2019.