Around this time last year, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius made its debut in the U.S. as the first original Final Fantasy game for mobile devices. Since then, its original characters and storyline have fostered a global community millions of players strong.
As the game commemorates its first anniversary this year, the Final Fantasy series as a whole celebrates its 30th, and the FFBE team plans to celebrate with their fans through a series of fan festivals held in cities across the globe. Producer Kei Hirono and global version producer Hiroki Fujimoto kindly took time out of their busy E3 schedules to talk about what the first year of development has been like and what fans can expect from the game in the near future.
It has been almost a year, in the U.S., since Brave Exvius’ launch. What are you most proud about upon reaching this milestone?
Hiroki Fugimoto: I’m especially proud and thankful for the fact that we’re able to offer the Final Fantasy series, through this game, to players all across the globe because of this mobile platform. Console games have been released worldwide as well, but not everyone has access to those machines. With smartphones, there are more and more people around the globe who have one; it’s so accessible. I’m very proud of the fact that everyone gets to play it. New people who’ve never heard of the Final Fantasy series can play it, and even people who’ve been longtime fans can easily access it.
In terms of the game’s development, how has it changed or evolved as this year has progressed?
Kei Hirono: For the Japanese version and the Global version, their development has been evolving in different ways. But, there are constant changes just because we always have new characters available, new gameplay experiences, and new storylines coming out each month. So, the game is constantly evolving… then, on top of that fact, for the Global version we are also developing a lot of original content and original, global exclusives. So, that’s something that we’re constantly keeping an eye out for and that’s evolving.
Taking into account that there are exclusives in the Global version, do you find that people in Japan play the game differently from people who play the Global version? Have you looked at the data and found any interesting differences or interesting similarities?
Hirono: There are two things. In terms of the basic gameplay, there are actually not too many differences between how Japanese players and Global players are enjoying the game. But, we do see a difference in KPI figures, like monetary transactions within the game. We can’t really divulge how they differ, but that is something we have noticed.
What new gameplay features can fans expect to see in the second year? Can you share any of your plans for Year 2?
Fugimoto: With the one-year anniversary coming up, we have a big version update planned. Version 2.2.0 is going to be released, and that’s going to include a lot of new features and systems that players can look forward to.
One system that we can share with you right now is the Expedition System, which is basically where you can send a character that’s not part of your party off on an expedition and they’ll go get an item for you. They will be off on their expeditions even while you have the app closed, so once you reopen the app, you’ll have some new items available to you.
Can you share any details on where the story is heading in Year 2?
Hirono: The Japanese version is already in Season 2 of the story; currently, the Global version is still running through Season 1. But, the overarching theme of the [main] story is that bond between the main characters and the relationship that they have with each other. We want to make sure to develop that further, so that you can get to know the characters even better, how they relate to each other, and how they’re going to stand up against their enemies. They’re also going to be meeting new characters as they adventure. How those new bonds are going to start affecting the overall relationships is something to look forward to.
For interested players who hear about all the new features and want to get started, but are hesitant because everyone else has been playing for a year and there’s a lot of story to catch up on, what character would you recommend playing as that’s easy to get into? Or is there a tip that you can offer them?
Fugimoto: There aren’t any particular characters that are recommended, but I would say to make sure you develop the main characters and make them strong — they’re really good characters that’ll be able to carry you through the game. Also, there are things like Summoning Tickets and the in-game currency, Lapis… My advice is to make sure you put in the time. Develop the characters and strengthen them. It should be no problem to catch up with the story.
Also, the initial quests are really great for leveling up. They’re not too difficult. It shouldn’t be a problem for newcomers to jump right in. In order to take an action within in the game, you need to expend some energy. But, until you reach level eight, no energy is expended at all. It’s really helpful when you’re just getting started and trying to level up.
For me, personally, seeing the Ariana Grande collaboration was really cool. It was like a cross-pop-culture collaboration because her image was in the game while her song got the Final Fantasy remix treatment. How difficult was that to do? What was that experience like for all of you?
Hirono: There were some challenges to this collaboration. It couldn’t have happened overnight, definitely, but a lot of things aligned to make it happen. We have this amazing IP of Final Fantasy, and Ariana Grande was really open to this collaboration, so things just fell into place and I think that’s what really made the collaboration work.
With every Final Fantasy title, beyond Final Fantasy VIII, there has always been a theme song associated with the title. And it’s really an integral part of the whole Final Fantasy experience. We really wanted to bring that to Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as well. We didn’t have a theme song, and when we reached out, Ariana Grande was open to being part of it. We’re so grateful for that.
Is Ariana’s song the theme song for Season 1? Or the game as a whole?
Hirono: There might be the possibility in the future for creating [an original song.] This current song by Ariana Grande, called “Touch It,” is a Final Fantasy arrangement of her song, but it wasn’t written exclusively for Brave Exvius. Somewhere along the line, it would be great if we can have a theme song that is written just for this title.
Is that type of collaboration something fans can expect to see going forward or was it so complicated that anything similar in the future would be unlikely?
Fugimoto: The collaboration with Ariana was definitely challenging, as mentioned earlier, because she is a top star known worldwide. But, the fact that the collaboration worked so well has given us hope and opened new doors to the possibilities of new collaborations in the future.
And, it’s not just artists and individuals we collaborate with. We have one coming up with Final Fantasy XII, since The Zodiac Age is being released next month. So, we’ll have characters from Final Fantasy XII appearing in Brave Exvius. We have a lot of ideas for different kinds of collaborations in the future that we want to offer the fans.
Thank you so much for your time today. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Hirono: We just found out recently that the Japanese version of this game reached the number one spot on the Apple App Store. We’re really excited about that.
[Featured Image by Square Enix/gumi]