At this point, saying that Final Fantasy XV has been in development for a long time is like saying that opening the Ark of the Covenant kinda didn’t go as well as the Nazis had hoped in Raiders of the Lost Ark. “A long time” is wholly underselling just how long this thing has been in the making. The game was first announced to the world at E3 in 2006 as a PlayStation 3 exclusive named Final Fantasy Versus XIII. It was, at the time, conceived as a spiritual sibling to Final Fantasy XIII, and the two games, while not directly connected, would make up part of a compilation of games known as Fabula Nova Crystallis. Final Fantasy XIII was released (as were its two sequels), with no word on Versus. After years of silence, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was re-christened Final Fantasy XV at E3 2013 as a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game.
Just think; at E3 2013 The Order: 1886, Sunset Overdrive, Super Mario 3D World, and Mario Kart 8 (to name a few) were unveiled for the first time, and all of those games have since been released. At the very same E3, Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a game that had been revealed at an E3 seven years earlier, was re-announced as Final Fantasy XV, and we still don’t have a release date for it today. I’m no big city mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that’s nine years since the game was first announced. Nine years. If you bought a dog on the day that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was first announced, it could live a long and fruitful life and still be in an urn by the time the game is released. Nine years. Based on her current record, you could watch the entire in ring career of Ronda Rousey 75,000 times and it still wouldn’t take as long as the development of this game. NINE YEARS. If you launched a probe to Pluto, it would have reached it’s destination and sent pictures back to Earth, like it actually did in real life at the end of last year.
With that in mind, let’s count down the top five most ridiculous ways that popular culture has changed since Final Fantasy XV was first revealed.
5. The entirety of Breaking Bad happened
Television has changed quite a bit since 2006. Hannibal was announced, seemed like a terrible idea, ended up being awesome, and still got cancelled anyway. Game of Thrones, based on a series of high-fantasy novels that weren’t called Lord of the Rings so nobody knew about, ended up becoming a bona-fide blood-and-tits crossover smash. Jack Bauer single handedly racked up a staggering 172 on screen kills. But of all the televisual happenings over the last nine years, few can compare in importance to the rise and fall of Walter White, in Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad.
A true word-of-mouth hit, Breaking Bad‘s success kinda snuck up on everyone. In fact, in my homeland of England, for the majority of the series’ run it wasn’t even shown on television. We had to watch it on Netflix (which wasn’t even a thing in 2006) as the episodes were added 24 hours after airing in the US. Amassing many awards and nominations, changing the face of television going forward, earning outrageous Metacritic ratings, and becoming a pop-culture phenomenon, the entirety of Breaking Bad was conceived, written, shot and aired in the time since Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced. Oh, and they aired the first season of the spin-off, Better Call Saul, too.
4. The Spider-Man movie franchise has been rebooted. Twice. (Two times).
Let’s travel back in time to 2006. Spider-Man is being played by Toby Maguire, who is heading into his third film in the series helmed by Sam Raimi. Expectations are high after the first two (good, and great) movies in the series, but ultimately, Spider-Man 3 released in 2007 disappoints. With Raimi not wanting to return, and most of the web-slingers best villains already being killed off, the franchise was rebooted, with Andrew Garfield cast in the starring role of The Amazing Spider-Man, which was released in 2012. The sequel to the movie was released in 2014, but with neither doing particularly well, and the decision to integrate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe being made, the series has been rebooted again, with Tom Holland set to play the man who does whatever a spider can, and he’ll debut in the new Captain America movie later this year.
Speaking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that hadn’t even begun in 2006. Since the announcement of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, there have been twelve (count ’em!) movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and DC Comics have started their own shared universe movies in reply. In the same space of time, there’s been four Transformers movies, with series star Shia LaBeouf subsequently becoming an A-lister and then losing his marbles. There’s been four more The Fast and the Furious movies, three of which starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who has gone on to be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. There’s been five more Saw movies, none of which had any right to exist. And there was Jupiter Ascending too, which felt like it last nine years, and could function as parody without changing a single frame in the running time. Our 2006 selves really had it easy, huh?
3. In 2006, Lady GaGa was called Stefani Germanotta and she was singing in bars.
Nine years ago, Stefani Germanotta, the future international superstar, Lady GaGa, was singing in New York bars trying to make a name for herself. Having her rent paid for by her father, writing her own songs and singing them while playing her keyboard, Germanotta managed to get herself a record deal. It fell through, and crushed, she turned to drugs and burlesque in an attempt to carve out a new identity that would get her the attention she wanted. In 2015, Lady GaGa is basically the biggest thing since sliced bread, becoming a household name, with more mentions in Heat Magazine than the entire cast Geordie Shore combined (possibly).
Guess how old Justin Bieber was in 2006? He was twelve, and a full two years away from starting his reign of terror. Nine Inch Nails released their first album for five years, releasing another four albums between then and now, with front-man Trent Reznor winning an Oscar for his The Social Network soundtrack for good measure. Metallica and Lou Reed were five years away from collaborating to make one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard. Michael Jackson was still alive. And Kanye West was a mere mortal, having not yet eaten the ambrosia of the gods and transformed into the most ridiculous man in music.
2. Ubisoft have released seventeen Assassin’s Creed games.
One of the biggest games of 2016 will be Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. But back in 2006, if someone had said that to you, you’d have looked at them like they’d got two heads and asked, “What the hell is Uncharted?”. Yes, believe it or not, all four (five if you count Golden Abyss) Uncharted games will have been released by the time Final Fantasy XV arrives. If you’re an Xbox fan and you couldn’t give a fig about Uncharted, then consider Gears of War, one of the most influential titles of the entire last generation, wasn’t released until a year after Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced.
Not many game series’ can compare to Assassin’s Creed though, in this regard. Since 2006 there have been seventeen games released under the Assassin’s Creed name, including eight main console titles, a couple of DS games, a PSP game, a Vita game, a couple of downloadable titles, and a few on iOS. What’s most astonishing though, is that if you ignore the spin-off games, if Final Fantasy XVI takes as long to finish as XV has, and Ubisoft release Assassin’s Creed games at the same rate they are now, the sixteenth main iterations of both series’ will release at roughly the same time.
But it’s not just software that has seen radical changes since 2006. In terms of hardware, the Xbox 360 had not long been on sale when Versus was announced at E3, and was already looking more promising than the original Xbox. Sony were preparing to release their successor to the most popular video game console of all time, but their arrogance and a few appalling decisions regarding hardware would lead to the PS3 getting off to a rocky start. And on the back of their worst selling home console yet, Nintendo were preparing to revolutionize the industry with the Wii. Nine years later, and the Wii fad is well and truly over, with it’s successor the Wii U being an unmitigated disaster. Microsoft fell foul of the same arrogance Sony had with the PS3 and royally shot themselves in the foot with the Xbox One. And Sony came back humble, learning from their mistakes, and are absolutely cleaning up with the PS4.
1. Myspace was the #1 social networking site, and Twitter didn’t even exist
A couple of years ago, just before the Xbox One was officially revealed, it was rumored that the console would require an always online connection, it would actively block used games, and it would do other awful stuff that everybody totally hated. Adam Orth, a Microsoft employee, caused a little bit of a rumpus on Twitter, when he acknowledged the rumors and then proceeded to mock the concerns of the Xbox fanbase with a level of flagrant douchebaggery generally reserved for characters played by William Atherton in ’80s movies. There was an uproar the likes of which only the Internet can muster, and within days, Orthy was living on the streets, stealing car hubcaps in a desperate attempt to fuel his newly acquired crystal meth habit. Or something. The point is, in 2006, the biggest furore Mr. Orth could have hoped to ignite online would have been the one kicked off by his girlfriend when she realised she wasn’t his top friend on Myspace. That’s because when Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced, Facebook was just starting to rise, YouTube had only been a thing for six months, and Twitter was a mere twinkle in its daddy’s eye.
Yes, as incredible as it may seem, in the time it has taken to develop this game, the great social media boom happened almost in it’s entirety. Imagine, if you will, that when E3 2006 happened, there was little in the way of livestreaming to watch the show, and not much in the way of video content. Imagine that people still bought physical magazines to get their gaming news. That PewDiePie was unheard of. Boogie was just sat at home playing video games. Angry Joe was just angry alone. “Let’s play” meant going out with a football. Tweeting was just something birds did. And people actually, really, genuinely had Myspace profiles. The impact of social media on the gaming industry has been huge, with game-related content being the most consumed on YouTube, and video content becoming the new standard that fans look for rather than print. But beyond the games industry, social media has taken the world by storm, with hashtag finding its way into popular vernacular, and the President of the United States having his own Twitter account.
The world is a very different place since Final Fantasy XV was announced as Versus XIII all those years ago. But if we’ve learnt one thing from the frankly outrageous development time of the game, it’s that perhaps we should take a leaf out of the book of Fallout 4, and just announce games when they’re done. Square Enix have boxed themselves into a corner with Final Fantasy XV by announcing it far too early, and at this point it will be almost impossible for the game to live up to the hype. The game has become a running joke, and while it looks like they’ve got it to the position where it’s a real thing that might actually come out one day, the fact that there’s still no release date is a concern. The fact that Square Enix are using resources to patch a demo of the game rather than finishing it is even more worrying. Let’s hope that they’ve learned their lesson when it comes time to announce Final Fantasy XVI, or by the time that comes out, I’ll be writing another one of these articles from my retirement home, presumably using some sort of magical computer that I can control with my mind.
This article was originally posted on www.soundonsight.org