Square Enix has revealed that it will likely be outsourcing all its future big releases rather than developing them itself, suggesting forthcoming Final Fantasy titles may bear the reassuring seal of China quality even more strongly than before.
None other than Motomu Toriyama, the luminary who decided Final Fantasy XIII could do without towns or confusing choices, gave a recent GDC interview in which he explained how making a big game is now just too much trouble (or just too difficult) for Square Enix to do itself:
“The development time was quite long,” admitted Motomu Toriyama, director of FFXIII and FXIII-2, at GDC Taipei.
“Within our company, developing on PlayStation for Final Fantasy XIII we required a huge amount of graphical data. … At the peak, there were over 200 people working on it.” The breakdown there was 180 artists, 30 programmers, and 36 game designers.
“With a large-scale development team, we didn’t use our time well,” he said. “How do you communicate to everyone in the department what the drive of the game is?”
The company had previously been using the story as the basis for development, but as it changed, it was tough to keep that many people abreast of the changes. “We decided we needed to create more practical milestones, not story-based ones.”
“Because it’s a large-scale project, we had to keep it secret, but this led to user testing happening way too late in the process,” he said.
“We heard a lot of feedback about things we needed to fix, and we decided we would do that with FFXIII-2. … We decided that we would have a milestone every month, and realized we needed to applied more Western technology and production techniques. We learned this not only from GDC, but also from Eidos [now owned by Square Enix].”
“We are also thinking that we will not do large-scale internal development any longer.” he said. “We have a lot of great creators in Square Enix, but for larger-scale development we will be doing more distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time.”
Square Enix’s success at outsourcing so far speaks for itself…