Final Fantasy XV released with five million units shipped in the west on day one, and debuted in Japan with almost 700,000 copies sold, that grew up to 815,000 as of last week (even if we don’t have data on digital sales yet).
Director Hajime Tabata was asked by the Japanese business site ITmedia Online to comment on the ration of sales between the Japan and overseas, and he mentioned that it is pretty much as expected, with sales in Japan that are pretty good considering the current situation of the local market.
“The overwhelming majority of sales is overseas. It’s as expected, since the hardware installed base is bigger overseas. The numbers in Japan are quite good considering the present situation of the Japanese game market.”
Tabata-san was also asked the reasons behind the decision to launch simultaneously worldwide, and mentioned that it was something that he thought from the very beginning when he started working on Final Fantasy XV. He believes that the game has generated so much excitement partly because of its simultaneous release.
He also mentioned that it’s also because Final Fantasy XV has an open world setup, and that kind of game has been played for many years in Europe and North America. Many AAA titles are open world there.
A related element is the spreading of YouTubers, with people streaming the game and others enjoying the broadcast. Final Fantasy games are normally single player games, with the personality of the player being less apparent through gameplay while streaming. In the other hand, with Final Fantasy XV many are uploading their pictures to social networks.
One of the aims of Final Fantasy XV is to show everyone a way to play the game with their own personal style, and that includes Japanese gamers, who aren’t very familiar with open world games. Tabata-san aimed just in the middle between a fully open world game and a traditional Final Fantasy game, wishing that it would be “an introduction to open world games” for many gamers.
Since he’s hearing many comments from gamers saying “I’m addicted, so I’m not moving on with the story at all!” or “I’m just doing sub-quests or fishing!”Tabata-san considers that goal 70% achieved. However, the remaining 30% are still strongly conscious of the traditional ways to play RPG games. He feels that it’s important for Square Enix to carefully show this way of approaching the game via promotion and updates, showcasing the fact that people who are playing the game in this more freeform way are enjoying it.
In Japan, according to Tabata-san, there is still a strong belief in the “I bought this game and now it’s over” concept. However, western open world games, for instance Grand Theft Auto V and The Witcher III, are kept active as long as players are satisfied, and there are many updates even after release.
In Japan there is internet in every home, Tabata-san continues, and everyone has a smartphone, but 20% of console users still don’t connect it to the web. To those people he wants to convey the idea that if you connect your console to the internet you can enjoy it more. The initial sale is not the end, and enjoyment of the game will steadily grow with time.