What Final Fantasy 16’s Sales Say About the Future of the Franchise

Final Fantasy 16's sales are impressive, but what do they say about Final Fantasy 17 and the future of the franchise?

Final Fantasy 16
Photo: Square Enix

The debates over the quality of Final Fantasy 16 have sometimes felt secondary to the debates over the eventual success of the game. Not only did some fans make a big deal out of Final Fantasy 16‘s reportedly low pre-order figures, but a lot of people have wondered what the game’s final sales figures would end up looking like. After all, Final Fantasy 16 is quite different from every other mainline Final Fantasy game. The success of this game could go a long way to determining where the series goes from here.

Well, Final Fantasy 16‘s initial sales figures have finally been revealed, and they do indeed say a lot about the future of the franchise.

The Final Fantasy 16 team has confirmed via Twitter that they’ve “shipped and digitally sold 3 million copies” of Final Fantasy 16 since the game’s launch. The wording of that statement suggests that not all of those shipped copies have been sold to fans quite yet, though that’s generally not the metric that publishers base their launch sales figures on.

So is that…you know…good? Generally speaking, it’s quite good. However, understanding what this number potentially means requires a little more context.

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As @Zuby_Tech notes on Twitter, these numbers make Final Fantasy 16 the fastest-selling PS5 exclusive yet and the 6th fastest-selling PlayStation exclusive ever. Granted, the PS5 exclusive record comes with a bit of an asterisk. After all, there have been very few true PS5 exclusives so far. More importantly, Final Fantasy 16 is the biggest true PS5 exclusive we’ve gotten since the PS5 hardware became more readily available. However, that number is still significant, as is the revelation that Final Fantasy actually charts quite high on the all-time PS exclusive list alongside some notable competition.

In terms of the Final Fantasy franchise, this number is a bit more complicated. As you can see in the link above, Final Fantasy 7 Remake sold slightly faster than Final Fantasy 16 at launch. However, the discrepancy isn’t that great, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake benefited from its availability on PS4 and a ton of hype. Besides, these numbers mean that Final Fantasy 16 will soon outsell the first six Final Fantasy games and could very well end up being a top-five best-selling mainline Final Fantasy game.

It’s when you compare Final Fantasy 16‘s sales to Final Fantasy 15‘s sales that this conversation gets a lot more interesting. Early reports indicated that Final Fantasy 16‘s UK retail sales were down 74 percent compared to Final Fantasy 15‘s initial sales. However, that number only accounted for physical sales, and Final Fantasy 16 still managed to top the sales charts in that region. Besides, physical sales were more popular when Final Fantasy 15 was released, and that game was available on multiple platforms.

Even still, Final Fantasy 15 is actually the fastest-selling Final Fantasy game ever. A Square Enix report from that time revealed that Final Fantasy 15 sold five million copies during its first day of availability. Though Final Fantasy 15 enjoys a mixed reception among fans (to say the least), that game did go on to sell an estimated 10 million+ copies, which would make it one of the top three best-selling Final Fantasy games ever. Final Fantasy 16 can certainly still outsell Final Fantasy 15, but it is an uphill battle from here. Of course, we still don’t know when (or if) Final Fantasy 16 will be released on other platforms. Those hypothetical ports could end up accounting for a lot of additional sales.

That seems to be the biggest takeaway here, though. Historically, Square Enix has had a close relationship with PlayStation for quite some time. There have even been talks of PlayStation purchasing Square Enix (though a lot of hurdles would need to be cleared for that to happen). Given that Square Enix reportedly approached multiple console manufacturers to discuss potential deals for Final Fantasy 16‘s availability, it seems likely that the company was willing to accept the possibility of lower initial sales for the revenue they would get for an exclusivity deal.

If that’s the case, then Final Fantasy 16‘s sales certainly seem to validate Square Enix’s decision to make the game a true PS5 exclusive. These early sales numbers are objectively impressive for a true PS5 exclusive and strongly suggest that Square Enix is reaching a considerable portion of the Final Fantasy fanbase through that platform. We’ll see what happens when the next rounds of negotiations come up, but it’s easy to imagine Final Fantasy 17 also being a PlayStation launch exclusive.

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Whether or not Final Fantasy 17 will resemble Final Fantasy 16 from a gameplay standpoint is the bigger question at the moment. However, my gut says that it won’t.

In an interview I participated in earlier this year, Final Fantasy 16 producer Naoki Yoshida told me that he felt Final Fantasy should be whatever the person in charge of a Final Fantasy game thinks it should be. He also mentioned that working on Final Fantasy 14 and 16 at the same time proved to be a uniquely challenging experience. So while it’s possible that Yoshida could return for Final Fantasy 17 given how long it will be until that game is released, it doesn’t seem like that’s the plan at that time. Whoever does helm Final Fantasy 17 will probably end up shaping the style of that game in their own image (with input from Square Enix, of course).

More importantly, I don’t think these initial sales numbers are impressive enough to definitively determine that Final Fantasy 16 is the future of this franchise. These sales numbers are undeniably impressive, but we’re not talking about a game like Breath of the Wild where the future of a franchise was determined the moment that those initial sales reports rolled in.

If anything, I think these numbers show that Square Enix is right to stick to the series’ path and mix things up a bit when it comes to mainline Final Fantasy entries. At the very least, Final Fantasy 16 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake are both performing very well, and they’re two wildly different games. Honestly, the only question I have at this point is whether or not Square Enix will greenlight a more “traditional” turn-based spinoff series that tries to reach across the aisle to old-school fans or if they will simply continue to remaster classic series entries. Personally, I’m still hoping for the former.