Final Fantasy 15 was formally unveiled in 2013 — but players have been crossing fingers for its release since May 2006, when Square Enix revealed it under the name Final Fantasy Versus 13. Between then and now, the week of the game’s launch, the world has changed in some pretty dramatic ways. To really hammer in just how long we’ve waited for the fifteenth Final Fantasy — and how much can happen in 10 years — follow along for some of the highlights of the past decade.
- Square Enix released 45 new Final Fantasy games and apps between May 2006 and November 2016. That includes several mobile games, as well as several titles on retired systems like the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. That time frame even encompasses the Western launch of Final Fantasy 12, which really feels like forever ago.
- Fans are finally getting a Final Fantasy 7 remake. When Final Fantasy Versus 13 entered development, the classic PlayStation game was just under 10 years old; now, it’s almost 20, and a fancy PlayStation 4 remake is in the works, following repeated fan requests. Square Enix revealed it at E3 2015, one of several big announcements at Sony’s press conference that year.
- Nintendo released — and retired — two different home consoles. The Wii was a huge hit upon its November 2006 launch, back when Final Fantasy Versus 13 was just a twinkle in Square Enix’s eyes. It lost only a bit of momentum over the years, but its successor, the Wii U, never even came close to moving as many units following its 2012 launch. The system floundered, leading the company to announce yet another home console in 2015. That system, the Switch, is due next year, just a few months after Final Fantasy 15’s release — meaning that had there been just one more delay, the game’s development could have withstood the launch of three Nintendo consoles.
- Sony and Microsoft released successors to the PS3 and Xbox 360. These hugely popular consoles have been replaced by the PS4 and Xbox One, which launched within a week of each other in 2013. Final Fantasy Versus 13 was originally set for release on the PS3 alone, but when Square Enix re-revealed it as Final Fantasy 15 in June 2013, the developer also switched up the platforms it would launch for. The company also decided to include Xbox One in the mix, not just the next-gen Sony platform.
- THQ went out of business. The publisher had once been a big deal in the gaming industry, but a series of bombs and some bad business decisions led to its shocking shutdown. Nordic Games has revived the name, rebranding as THQ Nordic this past summer. But the fall of THQ shook up the industry in a big way back in 2012, and it finally went defunct in January 2013.
- Apple introduced the iPhone, its first smartphone, in 2007. Smartphones are completely ubiquitous now, and it’s hard to remember life pre-iPhone in particular. But Apple didn’t start selling its trademark device until June 2007, and when it did, it completely revolutionized what we knew the cellphone to be. (The first phone on Android, iOS’ biggest competitor, launched in October 2008.)
- We’ve voted in three separate presidential elections. At the time of Final Fantasy Versus 13’s reveal, President George W. Bush was still very much in the White House. It wasn’t until two years into the game’s development cycle that the race to find our next president would take shape, ending with the first African-American to take office winning by a wide margin. Barack Obama is about to finish his second of two terms, during which he implemented a lot of changes and new policies but still couldn’t get FF15 into the world. Weeks before Final Fantasy 15 finally arrives, the American people voted in another milestone — if far more contentious — election.
- The TV landscape changed dramatically, with influential shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men airing their entire runs. Alongside The Sopranos, The Wire and Lost, all of which ended their runs during FF15’s development, they pioneered the era of the antihero. This has led to what critics praise as TV’s “golden age,” which extends into all genres. Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead also premiered in the latter part of the decade and continue to win huge audiences for HBO and AMC, respectively. Less acclaimed but still highly popular are shows like Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, both of which debuted years after Final Fantasy Versus 13 was revealed.
- Streaming TV, movies and music became the norm, thanks to platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video. All three launched following Final Fantasy Versus 13’s reveal, which is shocking to think about now. “Netflix and chill” is a legitimate Friday night plan, and most cable-cutters make do with Hulu subscriptions these days. Amazon Video, which began as Amazon Unbox in the fall of 2006, is now an Emmy-winning selling point of the Amazon Prime service. There are also competing music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, all of which arrived years after Final Fantasy Versus 13’s reveal.
- The final Harry Potter book hit shelves. This series lasted nearly as long as Final Fantasy 15’s development on its own. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh installment in the franchise, came out in July 2007, a little more than 10 years after the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. That’s about the same timespan between Final Fantasy Versus 13’s beginning and Final Fantasy 15’s end. The Harry Potter film franchise wrapped before the fifteenth Final Fantasy game made it out, too; the second part of the Deathly Hallows adaptation premiered in July 2011. (The series has since been revived with a stage play, a spinoff movie series and copious Pottermore updates, however.)
- In November 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, a title that had been in development since 1908. Baseball’s eternal doormat hadn’t even played in the World Series since 1945. To give you a sense of how long it’s been, the last time the Cubs took part in the Fall Classic, the United States had 48 states. The last time they won? 46.
- Speaking of states, the world now contains four sovereign nations that did not exist when Final Fantasy 15 was revealed in May 2006. Montenegro and Serbia separated to form two distinct countries in June 2006. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia less than two years later, in February 2008. South Sudan split off from Sudan in July 2011.
- Popular games in 2006, the year that Square Enix revealed Final Fantasy Versus 13: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii Sports, Okami, Gears of War, The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, Battlefield 2142.
- Popular games in 2016, the year that Square Enix released Final Fantasy 15: Overwatch, Doom, Titanfall 2, Dishonored 2, Pokémon Go. Also big this year are Battlefield 1, Gears of War 4 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition — sequels to some big games from ’06.
- The Last Guardian finally left development. This entry is kind of a cheat, as this game was meant to launch back in October before a last-minute delay to December. Still, since it debuted at E3 2009, Team Ico has taken its sweet, sweet time with the game’s development. Both Final Fantasy 15 and The Last Guardian were once the butt of jokes about unending development cycles and games we wanted to play so badly but feared we never would. By 2016’s end, we’ll be able to go into any store and buy both titles, which is a wild thought.
- Duke Nukem Forever was released, nearly 15 years later than expected. This game still holds the title of Longest Wait Ever, as 3D Realms publicly revealed it in April 1997. The sequel to 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D didn’t launch until June 2011, stretching out this development process to way longer than that of Final Fantasy 15. Gearbox Software helped take over the project and finally get it on shelves, for better or worse. We’re thankful that Final Fantasy 15 didn’t beat Duke’s record — and that it’s much more critically acclaimed thus far than the panned Forever. It’s hard for a game that we’ve anticipated for so long to meet our wildest expectations, and Duke Nukem Forever is proof.
- Polygon was born. Polygon entered the world on Oct. 24, 2012, after a brief stint as Vox Games. We’re still babies compared to the decade-old Final Fantasy 15, of course, but we’re a good example of just how much can happen in just a short amount of time.
Final Fantasy 15 will finally be in players’ hands on Nov. 29. Based on our review, it was certainly worth the wait.