Why Final Fantasy 16 Appealing to a Younger Audience is Important

Why Final Fantasy 16 Appealing to a Younger Audience is Important

Final Fantasy is a franchise with a rich history spanning several decades, console generations, and aesthetic changes. Fifteen mainline entries have released since 1987, and Final Fantasy 16 will look to continue the legacy as it returns to a high-fantasy and medieval setting in the war-torn land of Valisthea. There will be players who have experienced the magic of the series from the very beginning, growing alongside the likes of Terra Branford, Cloud Strife, and Tidus, but others will see Square Enix’ next game as a reason to finally give Final Fantasy chance.

Final Fantasy 16 will be the start of many fans’ journey in the property, and it has evolved greatly from a turn-based experience with sprite character models to something more fast-paced and visually impressive that undoubtedly appeals to modern players. Final Fantasy 16 has the tough job of staying true to its origins, but shouldn’t abandon the younger generation in pursuit of nostalgia.

How Final Fantasy Has Changed

Final Fantasy has defined the JRPG landscape since its beginnings, and is what most think of when the topic of Japanese Role-Playing Games is raised. There’s a reason for that, as its gameplay innovation and familiar approach to storytelling, RPG mechanics, and battle systems has been replicated by other properties for years. Final Fantasy in 1987 and Final Fantasy 15 are very different games, however, as the changes over time have evolved the fabric of the entire series. Final Fantasy 16 looks different still, and future entries will surely leave modern technology and presentation behind. Final Fantasy has stood the test of time because it has adapted as the years and console generations have gone by, and Final Fantasy 16 will be the latest example of it.

While these changes may have been provoked by a desire to capture a western market, the change to action-based gameplay and consistent, realistic character models has put it more in line with what most expect from modern AAA releases. Naturally, updated visuals and streamlined menu systems will be more appealing to younger audiences, as blocky textures and complex junctioning and materia systems don’t do well to provoke player retention in 2022. Final Fantasy 16 looks to be radically different from games in Square Enix’ PlayStation 1 heyday, which benefits gamers of all types, not least the younger market.

Appealing to a Younger Audience

Final Fantasy is competing against a plethora of exceptional franchises in the 2020s, not just titles within its own genre. Modern games are pushing narratives and gameplay that are inclusive of all gamers in the pursuit of sales, and as Final Fantasy continues to find mainstream popularity, it has to consider younger gamers if it wants to overachieve. Be it through more accessible storytelling or a less complex battle system, it’s crucial for the upcoming game to cast a wide net if it wants to compete with the strong commercial reception of games like Cyberpunk 2077, Borderlands 3, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and The Last of Us 2.

Veteran fans of the franchise have propped it up through the growing pains of Final Fantasy 8 and Final Fantasy 11, but this simply won’t do today. Final Fantasy 16 is the latest in a long line of games that some have been a fan of for years, but will be the entry point for plenty of others. If the game is a cluttered mess of confusing systems and nonsensical story beats, then it’s more than likely going to scare away potential new fans. Final Fantasy 7 Remake was a shining example of how Square Enix can forge an experience that can appeal to different player bases, and Clive’s upcoming journey has to do the same instead of isolating youthful eyes.

The Future of Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy 7 is a nostalgic experience for thirty-somethings, and should the franchise continue for years to come, Final Fantasy 16 could be the same for younger gamers in this generation. Final Fantasy has to avoid becoming a dinosaur that only appeals to those who view the series through rose-tinted spectacles. This will be a challenge, as the series has relied on staples that have become commonplace over time, but merging them with new ideas is the key to success moving forward.

Tales of Arise achieves this, as does Dragon Quest 11, but Shin Megami Tensei and Live A Live on Nintendo Switch don’t, and while this is possibly by design, it’s no coincidence that they haven’t sold quite as well as the aforementioned games. Experiencing the classic JRPG formula will always be desired by many, but the genre as a whole needs Final Fantasy to be the trailblazer most know it to be.

Final Fantasy Needs the Youth

Final Fantasy 16 has to appeal to younger audiences, not just to satisfy a wide berth of gamers, but also to ensure its survival in later generations. Failing to adapt to modern times and the preferences of players is the fastest way to make any franchise irrelevant, as other properties and developers are working to ensure everyone is happy with each new entry in their respective properties. Even an esteemed series like Final Fantasy isn’t exempt from the changing of the times.

Final Fantasy has never been one to push the boundaries of age ratings, and rarely provides enough blood, guts, and gore to make it unsuitable for youthful gamers. From Vaan to Squall, Final Fantasy protagonists are often young themselves, so each game’s main character usually has relatable traits that can be explored to make the story more memorable for everyone. Although the game seems to be taking on a darker tone than some previous installations, Final Fantasy 16 needs to leave room for fans of all kinds. Final Fantasy has a rich history and some of its fans have aged significantly, but appealing to the younger generation is as important as providing a satisfying experience to veteran players.

Final Fantasy 16 launches 2023 for PS5.

MORE: Final Fantasy 16’s Story is Much More Personal Than Past Games

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