Back in 1987, Hironobu Sakaguchi, according to the company mythos,
decided to create a role-playing video game as a result of his personal situation; had the game not sold well, he would have quit the games industry and gone back to the university.
The game sold well and has become known as Final Fantasy. Sakaguchi worked with Squaresoft for the rest of the company’s existence as a writer, director, producer and game designer. During this time, Sakaguchi got in trouble with his well-justified ambitious spirit:
A longtime proponent of bringing together the story-telling vehicle of film and the interactive elements of games, Sakaguchi took the leap from games to film when he made his debut as a film director in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, an animated motion picture based on his world-famous Final Fantasy series. Despite some positive reviews, the film was a box office bomb, losing approximately 94 million dollars. We are fully aware of what happened to Sakaguchi shortly afterward.
Sakaguchi saved the company – and yet the business machine which became Square Enix let him go.
Fast forward to 2006. The developers at Square Enix were working on Final Fantasy XII, with director Yatsumi Matsuno at the helm. But when it came time to work on Final Fantasy XII? Matsuno claimed “health issues”, according to Final Fantasy Wikia’s:
Although he had to bow out of the development staff, ostensibly due to health issues, he is credited for “Story and Concept” and “Supervisor”.
But Wikipedia has another story to tell, one of the creative differences and “moodiness”:
Matsuno reportedly was temperamental and refused to come to work for a month after part of the Final Fantasy XII team had left Square Enix to join Hironobu Sakaguchi’s new company Mistwalker.
What was going on here? Was Sakaguchi attempting to save Final Fantasy from adopting a spin-off aesthetic, from the grave so to speak? Unlikely.
Series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi was disappointed by Matsuno’s departure and declined to play the game beyond its introduction.
Sakaguchi chose Matsuno and Hirokyi Ito to direct the game. Sakaguchi seems bitter at Square Enix about his departure, and Matsuno might be as well. The latter’s left the company stressed out.
Tetsuya Nomura has been with Squaresoft since 1994 when he worked as a debugger. But now he’s in the director’s seat, a position he doesn’t seem to like much. Nomura “exhausted” his team, leaving them “fretful”. His aversion to directing is evident in his multiple delays.
Hajime Tabata. Seemingly an easy going guy when not telling off teams about having the Final Fantasy disease. Yet in still, the man has worked miracles. Final Fantasy XV was in development for ten years, and Final Fantasy XV turned out to be great! Don’t forget his tear-jerkers Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Type-0.
Tabata hasn’t quite left Square Enix, has gained his own company: Luminous Studios.
So here we are. It seems Square Enix burns through those who make Final Fantasy what it is, rather than giving them a break. Work at Square Enix must be very taxing; even working under one of these guys can leave one exhausted and fretful. How must it be for those in charge?
Business politics as usual.