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FFXI Simultaneous Multi-Platform Multi-Country Release?

As the RPG world is still in the wake of the aftershocks left by the information Square dropped on us at the Square Millennium, it was inevitable that someone would finally pull their jaw off of the ground and start asking questions. Some of the more intelligent questions that came out were about Final Fantasy XI, which the world now knows will be a completely online game for the Playstation 2. The questions asked were along the lines of "Will the FFXI players in Japan be able to play with those overseas?" "If so, will it be fair if the Japanese players get a head start?" "Also, as everything will be saved onto the Play Online servers, would players be able to play their accounts from different systems, should a PC version came out?"

Well, contrary to Square's standard "We'll tell you when we're ready" policy, Square gave answers to these questions right away. First off, yes, everyone in the world will be able to play Final Fantasy XI together if things go as planned. As for the language barrier, the game will extensively use labels and other visual forms to identify objects so that most problems will be easily eliminated.

Now as for the head start problem, Square has stated there will be none. There will be no problem, because there will be no head start. Square, at this time, plans to have a simultaneous launch of Final Fantasy XI in North America and Japan. That means that the tenative Late 2001 release date is now when the game can be expected here, should there be no delays. This brings up an interesting question, though. With the tenative release of Final Fantasy X in Japan being Spring 2001, will North America also be dealing with a nearly simultaneous release of Final Fantasy X and XI? As for the release of Final Fantasy XI in other markets, such as Europe and Australia, nothing has been said yet.

As for the use of an account on multiple platforms, the answer is yes, you can. Right now there is a lot of talk about not only releasing Final Fantasy XI simultaneously in North America and Japan, but also a simultaneous release for Playstation 2 and PC, at least in Japan. Should there be the inevitable PC version, players will indeed be able to access their accounts from both systems. Another interesting note about the PC version is that if all goes to plan, it would be completely compatible with Microsoft's upcoming X-Box, as will all other PC games. Whether special X-Box settings will be built into the PC version is unknown at this point, but this seems to be the direction that Microsoft is aiming for with it's console/gaming PC hybrid machine. Who would've thought.. Microsoft might have Square developing for them after all. Square has not confirmed or denied anything about the X-Box at this time, due to a non-disclosure agreement that Microsoft has with developers.

The announcement of the online-only Final Fantasy XI has been somewhat marred in controversy and has brought up many questions. With the multi-platform access realization, more doors seem to have opened. One in particular is Nintendo's upcoming system, codenamed Dolphin, and the possibility of it also carrying Final Fantasy XI. Square did speak highly when the initial estimated statistics for the system came out. Also, what about the Dreamcast? With Sega working on both a high-bandwidth connection and a likely DVD upgrade, it might not be out of the question. These are only possibilities, however, and Square has not hinted in them in any way. One thing is for sure. Contrary to what Square is calling it, Final Fantasy XI will be anything but just "Another Online World."


by Doug "Stom" Hill    
Source: [IGN/Videogames.com]
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