Since its release near the end of 2016, Final Fantasy XV has seen a wealth of additional content added. This includes three character DLC episodes, a multiplayer expansion, a VR fishing game, and a whole host of patches and updates. The stream of add-ons aren’t quite over, however, as there’s more DLC on the way this year, including the recently announced Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition. FFXV is one of the games that’s been at the heart of a growing discussion in gaming culture: whether or not we should buy games on launch day that are “unfinished,” as well as how problematic that can be.
The Royal Edition bundles all previous DLC plus the base game together, functioning like a Game of the Year Edition. However, the key difference is that there’s also a sizable amount of brand new content being added to the game. Anyone that doesn’t purchase the Royal Edition can purchase the new content separately. At first Square Enix reported this add-on would cost $20, although now they’ve clarified that the final price hasn’t been settled on.
This has left some fans feeling upset that a $60 game that released over a year ago is now requiring another purchase to experience more of the story and content. This is something you can see in forums like Reddit, where opinions differ greatly. Some users, like Rendolaz aren’t at all happy. “I purchased the collectors edition of this game and I really feel this is like a kick in the face. First off, the collectors edition SHOULD HAVE COME WITH THE SEASON PASS! But instead other editions did. Now we have this where we have to pay an additional price just to play content that should have been implemented in the game in the first place. I play FFXIV, which is an excellent MMO, but after FFXV I’m less inclined to buy their games again. I don’t even have faith for FF7. I’m not even gonna bother with buying it,” he writes in a post.
While there’s definitely an argument to be made about how games section off content for DLC and add-ons, Final Fantasy XV and its Royal Edition isn’t a topic that should be so contentious for people. The way Square Enix has laid out its follow-up content is interesting, and the amount of work they’ve sunk into the game since its release is truly impressive. This is something that requires a bit of unpacking to fully explain.
Video game publishers have been releasing Game of the Year and expanded editions for a long time, ever since the outset of DLC. Expanding upon a game’s main story also isn’t anything entirely new. There’s definitely a reason FFXV is such a contentious game in this regard, however, and much of that boils down to the simple fact that it’s Final Fantasy. Ever since the series’ outset, Final Fantasy has been a bastion for single player games, and over the years it has become one of the most successful video game franchises ever made. FFXV presents a very first for the series, a single-player game that has evolved into a games-as-a-service title and seen a ton of DLC and patches added.
Past Final Fantasy games have received updates in the form of new versions or editions of the game, like the Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System version, but until Final Fantasy XIII you didn’t see any kind of DLC in the series. FFXV has been a momentous title for the series, even purely through how it’s changed the way Square Enix looks at Final Fantasy.
The project that turned into FFXV spent 10 years in development, something you can see in the timeline we made for the game before its release. While the game didn’t turn into the actual FFXV until years after Versus XIII was in development hell, this clearly had an impact on the final project and how patchwork its story can feel at times. Still, the fact of the matter is, plot-holes or not, FFXV has a competent story that did a great job of connecting you with its characters. Yes, there are problems, but the hype leading up to its release meant that it was unlikely to live up to people’s expectations.
Since the game’s release, we’re presented with a title that has over a hundred hours of gameplay, with some add-ons that have been planned since the beginning and some that haven’t. The character episodes in particular are all well thought out additions that really expand upon the experience given in the original. These episodes in particular represent something unique to FFXV, vastly different gameplay for each character that lets you play the game in new ways. At $5 a pop, each of these episodes are quite affordable. Meanwhile, Square also added new quests, equipment, cutscenes, and story into the game through free updates.
All of these additions we’ve seen to FFXV would never have happened if there wasn’t such a passionate fan base at the center of everything, one that was hoping and asking for more content and story. The phenomenal success of XV, selling over 6.6 million copies by Nov. 2017, allowed Square to expand upon the game in new and interesting ways. All of this content, even paid expansions like Comrades, were there for the fans that wanted it, but they were by no means necessary to really enjoying the core experience of the game.
You can still jump into FFXV and have a perfectly good time with the game, understanding most of the story in the process. Anyone that finished the game can move onto new things, while those that want more of FFXV can shell out a few bucks to do so. Now, just over a year after the initial release, the Royal Edition presents an opportunity for anyone who hasn’t experienced the game yet to jump in and get the complete package. The fact that this content wasn’t there at launch is a non-argument as it’s common practice in video games to release expansions and/or DLC, then bundle it together in a complete package at a later date. In many ways, paying for Season Passes and DLC as they come out means you’re really paying for earlier access to these things, playing them now instead of when everything comes together later on.
Square Enix has provided another option for fans that already have the game to buy the Royal Edition content for a cheaper price. Based on the trailer it seems like there are going to be some pretty serious additions to the game, making its price point comparable to that of the multiplayer expansion, Comrades.
FFXV has provided a memorable experience for countless players, and you can’t deny that there’s quite a bit of content packed into the game, even when it was in its vanilla version. Square has put a lot of time, effort, and care into expanding FFXV and not just churning out mindless expansions. With how much work they’ve put into it, you can’t expect them to release everything for free, especially when they’re adding content that adds completely new gameplay systems or hours worth of new areas and bosses.
Square is truly experimenting with FFXV and how to make a single-player game a service, and that means a bit of a bumpy road as they figure out the right way to do it. Either way, fans have gotten a ton of content added into their game, most of which is quality. There’s quite a few people excited about the Royal Edition, and with even more character episodes coming in 2018, we haven’t quite seen the end of the FFXV train yet.