FINAL FANTASY XIII is an RPG developed by Square Enix’s 1st Production Department for PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360. It is the thirteenth major instalment in the FINAL FANTASY series and the flagship title of the FABULA NOVA CRYSTALLIS series of games.
It was released in Japan on December 17, 2009 and March 9, 2010 for North America, Australia & Europe.
It was the first single-player FINAL FANTASY game developed in high definition and the first developed for two consoles at once. It was also the first FINAL FANTASY and Square Enix game ever released in Chinese and Korean and was the first FINAL FANTASY and Square Enix game to have the lip sync completely redone for the English version.
It began development in February 2004, shortly after the completion of FINAL FANTASY X-2 International + LAST MISSION. At the time it was being developed for PlayStation 2 but about a year into development the project was halted to develop a FINAL FANTASY VII Tech Demo for PlayStation 3. It was shown at E3 2005 and was very positively received, combining this with the delayed release of FINAL FANTASY XII it was decided to change platforms to PlayStation 3 and later also Xbox 360.
The team beginning the project was largely the same team behind FINAL FANTASY X & X-2 inside Square’s Product Development Division 1. But as the project grew and became a high definition game many new staff were added from other teams including the KINGDOM HEARTS and FINAL FANTASY XII teams. For the first two years of development many staff on the team were also busy with other projects including DIRGE of CERBERUS -FINAL FANTASY VII-, KINGDOM HEARTS II, FINAL FANTASY XII and FRONT MISSION 5. Square Enix’s development structure also was restructured: Product Development Division 1 became the core of the 1st Production Department with Shinji Hashimoto, the game’s Executive Producer as head of the studio.
In total 246 staff worked on the game including 180 artists, 30 programmers, and 36 game designers.
It was announced at Sony’s E3 2006 press conference for PlayStation 3. At E3 2008 an Xbox 360 port was announced at Microsoft’s press conference. A Windows PC port was considered during development but was decided against due to Square Enix’s lack of experience with the platform. It was initially only released on PlayStation 3 in Japan but the Xbox 360 version would finally be released in Japan a year later.
A few minor changes were made in the versions released for the rest of the world that would make their way to Japan via an update along with an Easy Mode. The PlayStation 3 version was released on one Blu-ray Disc while the Xbox 360 version was released on 3 DVDs with compressed FMVs and graphics. Both versions featured Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Director Motomu Toriyama also designed the scenario, wrote music lyrics, created the main characters and more.
DLC was considered for the game by Toriyama but they decided against it due to quality concerns late in the project and difficulties with releasing DLC for the different consoles. The DLC would have included a brand new area, quests, weapons and a boss. The unfinished area, boss and weapons can be found in the Windows PC port data and can even be accessed in game with mods. The boss was later re-used for FINAL FANTASY XIII-2.
Development was plagued with issues, in particular due to the creation of Square Enix’s Crystal Tools engine but the team worked hard and released a gorgeous game. A demo included in FINAL FANTASY VII ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE in Japan helped the team finish the game.
The game was released to critical acclaim despite some people being turned off by linear gameplay all of a sudden. It quickly became the fastest selling game in franchise history and reached the team’s sales goal of 5 million. Toriyama & Kitase announced in January 2013 it had sold over 6.6 million copies worldwide on PS3 & 360.
Square Enix of course released many things to go with the game. This included a prequel novella planned and supervised by Toriyama & Daisuke Watanabe called FINAL FANTASY XIII Episode Zero -Promise-, audio drama versions of this called Fabula Nova Dramatica Alpha & Omega and a Side Story also planned by Toriyama & Watanabe titled A Dreaming Cocoon Falls into the Dawn which occurred during the game. Square Enix also released many Play Arts Kai figures, soundtracks, books and more. Custom PlayStation 3’s and Xbox 360’s were also released around the world along with Xbox 360 faceplates.
It was ported to Windows PC in 2014 by Kitase, Naoki Hamaguchi and other programmers & artists inside Business Division 1. Main Programmer Yoshiki Kashitani who left the company after FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 was finished supervised the port. The Windows PC port was released on Steam worldwide with dual-audio (English & Japanese), up to 60fps support and later support for high resolutions. The PC port has sold about 600,000 copies according to SteamSpy.
Broadmedia later used the Windows PC version to make versions for iOS & Android devices in Japan.
The PlayStation 3 version was released on PlayStation Now worldwide but was later removed.
The English version of the game used “My Hands” by Leona Lewis for its theme song while the Japanese version used “Kimi ga Iru Kara” by Sayuri Sugawara.
The English version of the game features a star-studded line-up of voice actors including Ali Hillis as Lightning, Troy Baker as Snow, Georgia Van Cuylenberg as Vanille, Reno Wilson as Sazh, Vincent Martella as Hope, Rachael Robinson as Fang and Laura Bailey as Serah.
Veteran staff who assisted in development in various roles include Takatsugu Nakazawa (Battle Planning Support), Toshitaka Matsuda (Lead Art Designer) and Yusuke Naora (Conceptual Art Supervisor)
Director & Scenario Designer: Motomu Toriyama
Main Programmer: Yoshiki Kashitani
Art Director: Isamu Kamikokuryo
Graphics & VFX Director: Shintaro Takai
Main Character Designer: Tetsuya Nomura
Image Illustration: Yoshitaka Amano
Storyboard Director: Yoshinori Kanada
Music: Masashi Hamauzu
Scenario Concept: Kazushige Nojima (Stellavista)
Lead Scenario Writer: Daisuke Watanabe
Event Planning Director: Takeshi Iwabuchi
Map Planning Director: Takayoshi Nakazato
Map Planning Co-Director: Hiroaki Hishinuma
Battle Planning Director: Toshirō Tsuchida
Battle Planning Co-Director: Yuji Abe
Lead Battle Programmer: Yusuke Matsui
Character Modelling Director: Hideo Kubota
Character Texture Director: Masaaki Kazeno
Battle Motion Director: Yoshiyuki Soma
Event Motion Director: Yusuke Tanaka
Cut Scene Director: Koji Kobayashi
Lead Cut Scene Programmer: Naoki Hamaguchi
Background Graphic Director: Yoichi Kubo
Background Technical Director: Yoshihiko Ōta
Lead Layout Tool Programmer: Mamoru Oyamada
Menu Director: Yoichi Seki
Lead VFX Engine Programmer: Yasunari Ohinishi
Lead Menu & VFX Application Programmer: Koji Honma
Movie Directors: Takeshi Nozue, Eiji Fujii
Sound Director: Tomohiro Yajima
Synthesizer Operator: Keiji Kawamori
Supervising Dialogue Editor: Teruaki Sugawara
Associate Producer: Hideki Imaizumi
Publicity Producer: Akio Ohfuji
Producer: Yoshinori Kitase
The various streaming versions are linked below.