Since Final Fantasy is such a big banner, considering that Square Enix would doubt the future of Final Fantasy XV when they set out for development would definitely be a shocker for many. However, that is exactly the case here, Hajime Tabata himself thought that the IP was dying.
The reason why the developers were so concerned about the life of the franchise and hence the fate of FFXV was because they think the IP had “already peaked.”
Not only that, Square Enix itself agrees that every game that was released in the series after Final Fantasy VII was lacking in at least one of the core qualities that define the IP according to Hajime Tabata i.e. “willingness to challenge the status quo, out-of-the-ordinary experience, and cutting-edge technology to use the hardware to the fullest.”
Talking of the IP’s death that they feared when they started to develop Final Fantasy XV, and its effect on the game, Tabata said:
The gravest situation of all was that, at the time we were starting Final Fantasy 15, we didn’t see an increase in new fans of the franchise. The brand image of Final Fantasy wasn’t really clear. The reality is not that the situation is okay or in favor of us. Rather, it is more grave and serious than we had initially thought. The way we understood Final Fantasy after our analysis is that it was a dying IP that had already peaked.
While that sounds sad, Tabata-san assures that with Final Fantasy XV they are putting in every thing they have just to ensure that the game has all the three core elements that have made this series so popular. Fingers crossed on that one.
Thanks, GameInformer Magazine (latest issue).