LOS ANGELES--At the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft presented what it thought was a major announcement from a top Japanese developer, Square Enix. Unfortunately, the "news" proved a tad anticlimactic, considering that the game in question was Final Fantasy XI, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game previously released on the PC in 2003 and the PlayStation 2 in 2004. Despite a sizeable PR push, the 360 edition of the game was lukewarmly received by critics and consumers, who barely bought 213,000 copies of it in the US.
Over the next three years, Microsoft would announce several more Square Enix games for the Xbox 360, including the exclusive Star Ocean: The Last Hope and the timed exclusive The Last Remnant. However, in many gamers' minds these projects were dwarfed in importance by the stature of two other Square Enix games: Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII Versus, both PlayStation 3 exclusives...
This morning at its press briefing at the E3 Media & Business Summit, Microsoft stunned many in the audience by announcing that Final Fantasy XIII is now in development for the Xbox 360. Not only is the game coming to the console, but it will arrive on the same day and date as the PlayStation 3 edition of the game, with no timed exclusivity of any kind. However, when exactly that is remains a mystery, given that the graphics-intensive role-playing game still has no firm release date.
"We believe that releasing an Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII will allow us to provide the game to even more fans in the two regions of North America and Europe," Square Enix boss Yoichi Wada told a stunned audience. No mentioned was made of Japan, where the 360 is far less popular than the PS3.
Wada also used today's event to announced the release date of the timed 360-exclusive Last Remnant as being November 20 in North America. (It will arrive on the PS3 in 2009.) Square Enix's 360 exclusive, Infinite Undiscovery, will ship in North America on September 2, Europe and the UK on September 5, and Japan and Asia on September 11.
Check back throughout the week for previews and impressions of Square Enix's game lineup from E3 2008.