Square Enix’s bizarre decision to rename “Chocobos” to “horsebirds” for the Japanese version of Final Fantasy XIV has given rise to a storm of criticism and a grovelling and unconvincing apology from the designers.

Meanwhile, players have begun to speculate that the game was largely made in China, with Chinese audiences in mind…

The situation began with Square Enix revealing it has a full Chinese version of Final Fantasy XIV planned.

Square Enix for its part has commented that “the Chinese version is a completely different service” and that it will solve the problem of gold farmers with IP bans.

Japanese players of Final Fantasy XIV soon noticed that their own version of the game dispensed completely with the “English” names in favour of names using Chinese characters exclusively.

Most noticeably, “Chocobo” (チョコボ – chokobo) was renamed to “馬鳥,” a meaningless word combining the character for “horse” with that for “bird.”

Chocobos thus became “horsebirds,” a phrase as ridiculous to Japanese ears as to western ones.

For those with some familiarity with the languages in question, this is how it all ended up:

Japanese:  English:      ”How it should be”:
盾備      Guard        ガード
搦槍       Heavy Thrust  ヘヴィスラスト
奥儀:早詠   Fastcast     ファストキャスト
霊銀鉱     Mythril Ore    ミスリル鉱
主器      Main Weapon   メインウェポン
馬鳥      Chocobo      チョコボ

Final Fantasy games have typically made heavy use of English in their Japanese language versions. Most Japanese players seem to have found these made-up Kanji terms considerably more confusing than the admittedly unwieldy English transliterations.

Curiously, some users also noticed that “index finger” was written in Chinese (食指) rather than Japanese (人差し指) – a very odd oversight indeed, unless it somehow transpired that the game was actually developed in China.

Soon suspicious users began to connect these changes with another major design change – the highly controversial “fatigue system,” which imposes severe penalties for players who play too long, as Square Enix sees it.

In fact, Chinese law requires all MMORPGs to have just such a “fatigue” system, in order to “protect” players from the addictive properties of these games.

For many, the coincidence of this exact feature appearing in the game alongside an announcement of a full Chinese release cannot be dismissed as coincidence. Soon Square Enix was being accused of making most of the game in China, for the Chinese.

Regarding this sudden change in naming, Square Enix’s Hiromichi Tanaka was at pains to deny it had anything to do with a Chinese version:

“Even in XI there were these Chinese-like Kanji names – it was just intended to build atmosphere. It’s just made-in-Japan Chinese for a Japanese audience, the Chinese version is probably translated completely differently I expect.”

The next day Square Enix published a lengthy explanation of the decision, saying it was intended to simplify naming by consolidating on Chinese-like names but that the resultant mixture of hard to read Kanji names and the remaining unwieldy English names was even more confusing and inconvenient, and that it ruined the atmosphere.

As a result they announced they would be changing back to the English style naming.


Not all are convinced:

“What an absurd excuse!”

“The naming was abnormal, but putting out an explanation like that is even more abnormal…”

“You don’t normally write ‘index finger’ in Chinese for no reason, do you?”

“If this explanation is right, then there’s no reason for ‘Chocobo’ to become ‘horsebird’ now is there?”

“There is no way they turned ‘Chocobo’ into ‘horsebird’ to make it easier to remember.”

“Explain that one away!”

Of course, none of these translation concerns are likely to impinge upon the western release of the game (although seeing the international reaction to Chocobos being renamed to “Horsebirds” would be instructive indeed).

The suspicion that the fatigue system was largely introduced as a way of coping with Chinese laws does however make as least as much sense as the “reaching out to casuals by curbing hardcore players” explanation offered, and the doubts over the use of Chinese text in the game do not seem to have been dismissed as easily as Square Enix apparently hopes.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    09:32 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    why not? it's funny that way, I don't even play those games anyway -_-

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:35 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    they're really trying hard to make this game an epic fail

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:18 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Final fantasy has become just a mere deformed shadow of its original self.

    Avatar of gintoki
    Comment by gintoki
    11:29 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    i think its chickenbirds is the best for it.

    Avatar of gulkeeva
    Comment by gulkeeva
    15:07 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I give you the ffxiv horsebird fanart

    Avatar of Veronica
    Comment by Veronica
    15:13 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I totally don't want to start calling cute chocobos, "horsebirds". It makes them sound like some freak failed experiment.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:37 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Even Pokemon comes up with better names than that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:58 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I hope you all realise this website makes up alot of bullshit right?

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:48 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hmm, I'm used to seeing funny Japanese-->English translation mistakes. Japanese-->Chinese mistakes are a new one though.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:13 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm sure they just thought everyone would be too dumbstruck by the graphics to actually read anything anyway.

    I can finally stop collecting Final Fantasy games at least. SE is just money hungry now. I just didn't expect them to risk pissing off their own people like this. Most Japanese people I've known over the years have a deep hatred for the Chinese. This should be fun to watch play out.

    Comment by Ojin
    13:19 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Horsebirds....what the fuck? What kind of drugs were the people at square smoking?

    Actually I take that back...what drugs WEREN'T they taking when they came up with that name? That said...that gif is indeed lol worthy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:49 29/01/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    lol I don't see anything stupid with that name
    I mean FF universe people use chocobos as horse do they? And horse doesn't exist in the game.

    I don't see how the naming sense is stupid.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:40 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Playing the beta, there were numerous spelling and grammatical errors in the story text. Reading this would make me wonder if they did get some Chinese sweat shop to translate their dialogue.
    Really disappointed so far with these small details.

    Avatar of knuclear200x
    Comment by knuclear200x
    05:15 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Of all the changes they had to make, why didnt they just make a chocobo with teeth, huge talons, red in color and a thirst for blood?

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:24 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anyone else see an archer wearing a chicken suit with high boots on in that pic?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:42 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Eh, the kanji might literally be "horsebirds", but Kanji can be freely "pronounced", so you can read it as "Chocobo".

    Many authors of literature in Japan do that, combining kanji, and then giving an own "reading".

    So, this news is pretty much worthless.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:20 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There's no furigana there to indicate a alternate reading, so your observation is pretty much worthless.

    Avatar of Dev
    Comment by Dev
    04:33 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Say it with me.


    Avatar of Korpseman
    Comment by Korpseman
    04:45 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Drugs were involved.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:43 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wonder if Blizzard is willing to try their luck in Japan now.

    I find it strange that they have avoid selling their games in the Japanese market.

    Given the number of disgruntled FFXIV players, they should try to pushing WoW in Japan.
    There is "money on the table".

    Comment by Pyrolight
    05:53 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh dear, it is just getting more funny all the time.

    Avatar of AdventZero
    Comment by AdventZero
    07:33 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I didn't care about the copy/paste thing, and I was going to try my best to over look the exp limets. But god be damned to hell if I'll over look SE bowing to chinese rmt's or renaming chocobo's "horsebirds". -_-

    I mean really the hell?! china hates japan so why is japan going out of it's way to make a game for them?

    (I only read bits and picese as I skimed down so if my rant is off, my bad xD )

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:06 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Everyone here not making fun of Horsebird are trolltastic faggots, regardless of any apparent vapid intellect.

    Avatar of Ota-Kool
    Comment by Ota-Kool
    05:58 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think they can be call OSTRICH.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:00 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The correct name is penisbird.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:09 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sound like it might be fun to buy this for a laught.too bad i m so poor i'll only be able to get 1 game in the next few months.Sorry everything else im going with FO:New Vegas. It is sad this will probably blow.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:00 19/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Call them "11 Exp Monsters"

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:04 08/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Low quality and made in china. Will be the last final fantasy version I bought and I bought every single part of it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:49 29/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    These companies need to tell China where to stuff it and refuse to put into place fatigue systems. That is what pissed me off about Fusionfall during the Beta. Thankfully, they got the message and removed that from the actual release of the game or very soon after the release.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:03 23/10/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    In all due seriousness, the Japanese players are ticked with Square Enix since they outsourced FFXIV's production to China. That's the real reason behind their outrage since the Japanese players in general come across as insanely xenophobic. They literally felt *cheated* when SE released FFXI worldwide since they felt it was *their* game.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:22 02/11/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Game's good, deal with it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:43 24/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well the issue is that the game was actually chock full of CHINESE words which didn't even make sense ordinarily in Japanese. It's not even that the kanji were complicated, though some were, it's just that they flat out used compounds and terms that do not make sense in the Japanese language and are straight from Chinese. It looks like the Japanese version was a badly localized version of a Chinese game.

    I was a skeptic at first but I'm actually starting to believe that this game IS developed in China and for the Chinese market first and foremost. That explains everything.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:46 24/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hiroki motherfucking Kikuta likened Squaresoft of the good days more to a group of college buddies making video games for kicks. I cannot imagine the soulless corporation Square-Enix being a sliver like that. Enix seemed better on it's own too. Quintet made great games. Most of the important people involved in anything good from Squaresoft left the company. Maybe the company changing buildings had something to do with it. That's why Nobuo Uematsu quit.

    Outsourcing to Korea and China is killing Japanese anime and video games in a number of ways, and the idiots keep on doing it, but most Japanese are making garbage themselves. Besides, it's not Japanese if it's not made in Japan.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:53 27/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    gif ruled, this is like deleting slimes from dragonquest, chocobo is a mascot of FF. guess its getting old eh

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:40 02/10/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm not a fan of the ff mascot chcobos but changing there names was probably the most stupidest thing especially for horsebird.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    19:54 29/01/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Kanji looks and read way better than katakana anyway.

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    Comment by PrinceHeir
    02:20 22/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    lol what the fuck?

    Comment by Anonymous
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    Avatar of djchayan
    Comment by djchayan
    06:47 20/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    little by little Square-Enix is killing themselves as a gaming CO. how i miss the old days...

    Avatar of Mobius Pizza
    Comment by Mobius Pizza
    08:02 20/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I know for one Chocobos were known as 陸行鳥
    Land-sailing birds in Chinese traditionally. Definitely not horsebirds, unless some crappy translators had never played FF before.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:23 20/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ROFL is this like a professional bullshit site?

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:53 20/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why so butthurt, SE-fag?

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