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Square Enix defends Final Fantasy mobile pricing, not ruling out more ports

The Legacy Final Fantasy collection, Square Enix's name for the mobile ports of the first group of Final Fantasy titles, were created as the result of a growing mobile gaming market — and as a way to introduce a younger audience to the franchise's first titles, director and producer Takashi Tokita told Polygon.

The current generation of gamers, those born around 2000, are likely more familiar with Final Fantasy 10, 12 and the 13 games because they were published for that audience's console generation. Previous games published to PSOne and SNES may still be unknown to them, Tokita said, and releasing them on smartphones and tablets — which many young people now own — is a great way to introduce them to the series' beginnings.

The collection of mobile games includes Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy 2, 3, 4, Final Fantasy 4: The After Years, upcoming launch Final Fantasy 5 and the currently in-development port of Final Fantasy 6. Tokita noted that it takes around one year to develop each port, adapting the console originals for smaller screens and touch controls. The After Years was initially released as a mobile title in Japan in 2008, and its success made Square Enix consider bringing more of the franchise's games to mobile devices.

"Final Fantasy 1 through 4 were released in Japan for mobile, and then development of Final Fantasy 4: The After Years was the beginning of our decision to make more Final Fantasy games available on mobile phones," Tokita said.

"This is a good chance for the younger generation to get a hold of the older Final Fantasies and experience them," he explained. "It gives them a chance to link with our generation now, the generation that knows the older Final Fantasies. It's a meeting point."

Square Enix has often been criticized for its high pricing model regarding its mobile Final Fantasy titles. Tokita said the price — which is comparable to the same game on another service like the PlayStation Network — is justified because the team has not watered down the games in any way. They are mobile ports with a "new polish on the graphics" and retain all gameplay elements of the originals.

"The PlayStation Network versions aren't upscaled versions; they are basically migrations from the older systems," he said. "The new Final Fantasies we are releasing form the mobile phones are better in graphics, and a lot of work has gone into them to make them a pleasant experience.

"In the beginning we did receive some concerns about the pricing, but customers have played it and saw the value and have been content with the pricing," he said.

Tokita added that the middle generation of Final Fantasy games — Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 9 — aren't ruled out for mobile ports but would require a lot more manpower to develop due to their higher-quality graphics.

"Technology-wise it would be very difficult to bring a games like Final Fantasy 7 and beyond from the PlayStation era [to mobile] — they require a lot more memory and processing speed," he said. "It could be something that is possible within the next few years. But as for the actual development of it, we just have to see how well [Legacy collection] does."