Today news broke** that Naoki Yoshida, Producer of Final Fantasy XIV, affectionately called Yoshi-P by fans, has been promoted to an executive position within the ranks of Square Enix (SE). This is, in my opinion (and many fan’s as well) a well deserved recognition for a man that did the impossible: he took a failed MMO, which also happened to be a main numbered entry in the FF franchise, and turned it into a success¹.
Beyond turning around the Titanic that was the original FFXIV (1.0) I also firmly believe Yoshi-P (Yoshi-P Ex? Yoshi-Exp?) brought about an important change in the way SE communicates with its most important asset: the fans. The legend tells of a time when 1.0 was a burning mess and he was called to try to fix said mess. A tall order, to be sure: a main numbered entry in the venerable franchise was becoming a huge failure and he was tasked with turning that around. How do you even approach this? He took two important decisions:
He destroyed the world
He put on his Kefka’s robe and maniac hat and decided that the best way to turn XIV around was to remake it from scratch, and then proceeded to go Sephiroth on the continent of Eorzea. Remaking the world after an in-game calamity provided the perfect lore reason to start fresh.
He talked to players
As far as I know, he often posted in the forums asking for player feedback and posting updates about the developments taking place and the changes that were being prepared behind the scenes for the second coming (A Realm Reborn). But what really caught my interest in these are the “Letter from the Producer LIVE” events they often do: a couple of hours where the dev team sits in front of a camera and starts talking about the game, what is in and what is to come, even “leaking” a few things in the process. This has taken Yoshi-P from a simple dev/figurehead to a popular personality among the fans.
It is this particular practice that, I’m sure, brought about an important change in SE. We’re talking about a company that usually is very secretive with what it shares, and has had a consistent track record in the past few years of not listening to its player base (“because we all wanted… no, needed three FFXIIIs“), or even better, having titles disappear for years without a word. Suddenly, we have announcements of new long-awaited titles, frequent reports and live streams filled with Type-0 and XV information, feedback reception and… is this the same SE?
During this weekend, at the PAX FFXIV panel where the release date for XIV’s expansion was revealed, the very man that leads the team finished the presentation with the phrase “please look forward to it“, a phrase he knows it’s sort of a fan joke about things to come in Eorzea. Also, this:
Well, deserved, Yoshi-P!
¹ While it could be argued how much of a success individual people consider XIV to be, it can’t be denied that it is the complete opposite of what 1.0 was. Of course, you can also dislike XIV, and that’s cool – unless you dislike XIV because “it’s not XI”, in which case kindly google maps the closest bridge and… paint it, or something.
** Of course, after writing this blog post, there’s talk of this actually being an old promotion. Screw it, post is done. Have fun reading 😉