Update: Hajime Tabata has announced the creation of his new company, JP Games, launching January 2019.
Final Fantasy XV’s game director, Hajime Tabata, has resigned from Square Enix to form a new studio, JP Games. Rather than continue development without him, Square Enix has announced that it has cancelled the new DLC it still had planned for FF15. The first of these, Episode Ardyn, is still planned to release in March 2019, but episodes Aranea, Lunafreya, and Noctis have officially been axed.
Tabata’s resignation came during a broadcast from Square Enix on what’s next for FF15, and follows a quarterly earnings announcement that was full of yet more dreadful news for the publisher. Tabata had been attached to a newly-formed subsidiary, Luminous Productions, the creation of which led Square Enix to post an extraordinary loss to the tune of $33 million. Gaming revenues were down 15% year-on-year, and overall profits a whopping 50%, despite the launch of Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
FF15 global brand director Akio Ofuji explains that, while Luminous Productions has been working on the coming DLC, it was mainly set up to “deliver a completely new triple-A title to the global market”. Ofuji says Square Enix is eager to ship it as soon as possible, and that resources have thus been refocused on the new game and away from FF15 DLC. The recent financial news is not mentioned, but clearly, resources are tight at Square Enix right now.
The future DLC episodes were unveiled at PAX East way back in April, and promised to tell some exciting stories that would develop Lunafreya’s character and deliver an alternate ending with Noctis embarking on “his final battle.”
Ofuji acknowledges that “many fans have been eager to play these episodes, and the entire development team is regretful that we are unable to meet everyone’s expectations.”
Tabata confirmed his resignation during the broadcast (click to 7:20 on the embed below) and on his Facebook page. As the two-year anniversary of FF15 approaches, Tabata says he is leaving to “hand over the torch to the next generation”, and will start his own games company so as to tackle “a brand new project” that will “draw on all my past experiences.” With Square Enix effectively calling time on his baby, the timing seems reasonable.
The broadcast concludes with a discussion of Episode Ardyn and a trailer, as well as confirmation that FF15’s multiplayer expansion, Comrades, will get a standalone release next month.
Since the broadcast, Tabata has announced in a Facebook post that he has created a new company called JP Games. “I started up my own company called JP Games, Inc.,” says Tabata. “Right now, we are preparing for a target January 2019 launch. And to everyone who has assisted me until today-I kindly ask for you ongoing support.”