Long-time Final Fantasy XI producer steps down after 10 years

Square Enix has announced that a new producer will be assigned to Final Fantasy XI. Akihiko Matsui, who has served in the role for over 10 years, is stepping down and will be succeeded by Yoji Fujito.

Final Fantasy XI is a MMORPG that was first released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 and PC. The long-lived title is still in service and will celebrate its 21st anniversary in May. Matsui took up the role of producer for the game in August 2012, while Fujito has served as the game’s director since April 2016. Fujito will continue on as director in addition to his new duties as producer.

Alongside the announcement, both made comments that were published on the game’s official site. In regard to the reason for the change, Matsui stated:

“As we were preparing to launch the festivities, I gave a lot of thought about what I would do once it was over. I was originally prepared to stay on until retirement, but what would actually happen after that was still up in the air. It was then that Mr. Fujito mentioned his desire to succeed the role of producer. I had much to reflect on during the 20th Vana’versary year, and the fact that it was just about ten years since I took on the producer role, in addition to Mr. Fujito’s proposition, felt like a sign of sorts.”

He also looked back on his tenure as producer, noting, “When I look back on my approach over the past ten years, I feel I was rather conservative and placed too much emphasis on ensuring that FFXI continues on.” When talking about his successor, Matsui said, “It was actually Fujito that proposed improvements to the game, like revamping the installer and adding the chat filter. Based on those moments, especially his display of initiative to carry on in my stead, I am confident that no one is more suitable than Mr. Fujito to carry on Vana’diel’s legacy as producer.”

In Fujito’s comment, he touches on changes that will be made to Final Fantasy XI’s development in the future:

“First, I’d like to talk about our Development team. Most of our current Development team has served exclusively on FINAL FANTASY XI for many years. Remaining on the FFXI team full-time, however, would mean giving up certain opportunities in their careers as developers. For developers, working with new technologies and seeing the fruits of their labor take form in new products can be a huge source of motivation and an opportunity to grow. So rather than limit our developers to working exclusively with FFXI and its decades-old technology, I believe it would be better to allow them to gain experience in other development environments and bring back their learnings to FFXI. As such, I have elected to further downscale the scope of our Development team to provide more leeway for our operations to continue. The scope of our version updates will become quite compact as a result, but in exchange, we will focus on stabilizing our operations environment for the medium and long term.”

He also mentions that the updates planned for the game in 2023 will be focused on Ambuscade updates, Prime Weapon reforging, and Master Trials. In understanding that the change in leadership may leave some fans feeling concerned about the future of the Final Fantasy XI, Fujito encouraged them to share their thoughts with him: “Please feel free to pose any questions you may have on the official forums and I will address what I can in a future Freshly Picked Vana’diel broadcast, as well as the FFXI Digest for our overseas players.”

Written by. Marco Farinaccia based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-03-23 14:13 JST)