E3 2017

Is Final Fantasy becoming an esport?

In Esports, Features by Alex AnifantisLeave a Comment

A few days ago (and ahead of E3), Square Enix announced the release of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT early within the next year. As many of you may already know, Dissidia is a series of brawler games that contain a number of well-known characters from the franchise. It is, in a sense, the Final Fantasy version of Super Smash Bros or Street Fighter.

The game will be initially released with about 20+ available characters (Noctis will be available at launch) and 10 playable arenas, however considering the staggering number of memorable faces that have been seen throughout the series’ 30-year-long history, it is inevitable that that number will only continue to grow.

Off the top of my head, here are 10 characters that could easily be added: Auron, Vincent, Seifer, Beatrix, Tifa, Zack, Balthier, Jecht, Vivi and Rydia. And I’m sure a lot of you have your own ideas about who should be added!

Almost at the same time, Square Enix also released the launch trailer for Stormblood, the third expansion of the series’ second MMO, Final Fantasy XIV. You can see it below if you haven’t already. However, let that sink in for a minute… It’s the third expansion! Long gone are the days when this MMO was struggling for its survival. Ever since Naoki Yoshida took over, things have only been going upward and now it has become one of the most respected titles of the genre (of course nowhere near as big as World of Warcraft, but it has its place in the community). There are now over 6 million people that have accounts in this game! Those numbers are impressive!

And even as it goes forward, FF XIV always makes sure to take care of both players who are looking for a single-player experience, with a great scenario to keep them hooked just like any other mainline title, and players who want to engage in the MMO side of things, with all sorts of PvP battles, like the more recently added “The Feast.”

So, what do these two games mean for the series? In what direction does it intend to go from here?

Well, for starters, now that Final Fantasy XIV has gained momentum (and will gain even more, considering a lot of newcomers will be joining in with the release of Stormblood), it is quite possible that it’ll try and take a cut of the esports pie for itself. It wouldn’t be surprising if Square Enix were to announce that they were holding a tournament anytime soon. They always have booths at big game shows where both amateur and professional teams can challenge the in-game bosses for a chance to win prizes like t-shirts, and they usually turn out quite successful. Also, the team in charge of the game has held a number of gatherings for fans of the game, titled Fan-Festivals, at which the turnout has even been described as overwhelming. The support for this title would definitely allow it to enter the esports arena.

As for Dissidia NT? The fact that it was even announced made fans think about the potential online tournaments the like that which Nintendo usually holds for Smash Bros or Pokken. As mentioned above, the character roster can only grow, which in turn will raise the awareness of the fans towards this title. Also it’s som

ething new and exciting compared to all other games and considering the original Dissidia titles on the PSP were well received, people should welcome this with open arms.

This is something that even the creators of the game themselves seem to be working towards, considering recent statements from the game’s director Takeo Kujiraoka: “Currently, eSports has been an exciting thing for everyone overseas, right? And regarding that, I believe we, too, can possibly make it there. By having everyone around the world enjoy a Final Fantasy with team battles, by exporting a highly proficient competitive tool, then perhaps we can even make it one of the exciting parts of an eSports event. The next step after that would be to have competitions for it on a global scale. I can’t say much more about it, but with those ambitions we’d like to continue making Dissidia Final Fantasy into a better game.”

There is undoubtebly a lot of money in the world of esports, both for those winning the tournaments and for the ones holding them, through sponsorships and advertisments. It’s also being rumored that esports will be an Olympic Event at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (although that sounds like a rather farfetched scenario). Square Enix is well aware of all this and is also aware of the brand recognition of it’s flagship franchise, especially in Japan. So its highly likely that they will be using these two titles as their access point to the industry.

So what do you think? Do you believe that Square Enix are moving aggressively into the esports arenas? Would you ever participate in a tournament with your favorite Final Fantasy character? Let us know on Twitter!

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Alex Anifantis
Gamer from a young age, ever since my older sister introduced me to the worlds of Tetris and Super Mario. Self-proclaimed Final Fantasy fanatic, generally enjoy all JRPGs. The most important quality in a game to me is a good story.

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