#9 Yosuke Matsuda Part 4

“WE DISCUSS VANA’DIEL” is a series of conversations between Producer Matsui and special guests who are familiar with FINAL FANTASY XI (FFXI). Our ninth guest is Yosuke Matsuda, the President and CEO of Square Enix. In this fourth and final part, he talked about the past 20 years of service and the future of FFXI.

Yosuke Matsuda

President and CEO of Square Enix. Following his career as a certified public accountant (CPA), he joined Square (now Square Enix) and was primarily responsible for the company’s financial and accounting operations. In 2013, he was appointed President and CEO of Square Enix and Square Enix Holdings.

The unexpected duration of service

  • Matsui

    With the heartfelt support of numerous players, we are approaching FFXI’s 20th anniversary. May I ask for your opinion regarding this milestone?

  • Matsuda

    Considering the wildly unpredictable nature of the game industry, the fact that FFXI has been around for 20 years is nothing short of extraordinary. Moreover, we have an extremely high number of players who joined us at launch and are still playing today.

  • Matsui

    Not only are there players who’ve been with us since the release of the PlayStation 2 version, but we also have a high retention rate among players who started with the release of the Windows PC version.

  • Matsuda

    Ensuring that players who’ve been with us from the beginning are still having fun is essential to online game operations. At the same time, I’m reminded of just how crucial it was that we took the initiative in developing a full-scale MMORPG in Japan.

  • Matsui

    Had another Japanese MMORPG been released for home consoles before FFXI, that game might’ve been the initial MMORPG experience for many passionate gamers, who might’ve stuck with that game instead. So, in that sense as well, I believe it was a perceptive decision to immediately take action and assemble the majority of the in-house teams at that timing.

  • The timely launch was certainly a large contributing factor, but surely your team’s continuous efforts over the past 20 years have greatly contributed to this extraordinary duration of service.

  • Matsui

    Looking back, the PlayStation 2 version was around for 14 years, which was quite lengthy as well. Considering the PlayStation 4 was released in Japan in 2014, I’m sure Sony Interactive Entertainment was thinking, “Just how long are they planning to continue?”

  • Matsuda

    From a business perspective, we’d like to keep services going as long as there are players, but that entails continuous costs and providing support for hardware. I imagine that must’ve caused some unease for Sony Interactive Entertainment. In that sense, I believe the PlayStation 2 version of FFXI certainly surpassed its predicted lifespan.

  • President Matsuda, I believe this question is on many players’ minds, but how long do you expect the Windows PC version of FFXI to continue?

  • Matsuda

    As I mentioned before, FFXI can be considered a pioneer of Japanese MMORPGs. In the sense that it’s influenced myriad other titles, FFXI has prestige as a precursory and long-standing MMORPG. It’s a source of pride, and I’d like for FFXI to continue for as long as possible. Of course, as a business, we're always monitoring the cost-effectiveness of aspects such as development and server maintenance, but rest assured that FFXI is currently capable of producing revenue on its own. So as an executive, I would like for them to maintain a solid stream of revenue, as well as continue delivering enjoyment to our adventurers.

  • How would you respond to that, Mr. Matsui?

  • Matsui

    I’ll give it everything I’ve got…!

FFXI, the pioneer of Japanese online games

  • The term “metaverse*” has become a buzzword since around 2021. With FFXI being a digital realm, it could be considered to be one of the oldest metaverses around. President Matsuda, what are your thoughts on the recent excitement surrounding metaverses?

    * “Metaverse” is a portmanteau of “meta” (meaning “transcending”) and “universe” which refers to virtual worlds focused on social connection.
  • Matsuda

    It reminds me of the announcement of FFXI and PlayOnline. In hindsight, the PlayOnline framework seemed to be jumping the gun, but it certainly sounds feasible now 20 years later. It goes to show just how ahead of its time the PlayOnline framework was.

  • In closing, do you have any final words for our adventurers who are continuing to enjoy FFXI today?

  • Matsuda

    To reiterate, I believe FFXI is a title that can be considered a pioneer of Japanese online games. It’s a great honor for such a title to have been enjoyed by players even after 20 years have passed, as well as to be in a state where we can maintain operations. Our services will continue on, and so I humbly ask for your continued support as always.

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