First announced as a joint collaboration project between Nexon and Square Enix back in April 2016, Final Fantasy XI Reboot (or Final Fantasy XI R) was supposed to showcase the next-generation of mobile MMORPG using Unreal Engine 4. However, according to an article in South Korea posted 9 December, Nexon has apparently reached an agreement with Square Enix to cancel the project after around 5 years and millions spent.
Supposedly provided by an insider at Nexon, the company is now focused working on more viable game projects, to the extent of moving the development lead on Final Fantasy XI R to become the director of the TalesWeaver M team. The rest of the team member on Final Fantasy XI R will follow suit, with some joining the team of a mystery game known as Project NGR. More on that later, as we continue to talk about what happened to Final Fantasy XI R.
The deal between Nexon and Square Enix was struck in 2015, with development officially starting in 2016. In 2018, development duties were handed to internal team Nexon One Studio. It was stated that the development direction changed drastically here. Final Fantasy XI R was scheduled to launch in late 2019, but was postponed due to massive internal re-structuring at Nexon and projects being reviewed thoroughly.
Shim Ki-hoon, a prominent developer who worked on Nexon’s other mobile MMORPG Alliance X Empire (AxE), was brought in to steady the ship of Final Fantasy XI R. Once again, the direction of the game was changed, this time having the core gameplay focused on a mix of RPG and TCG genres. Development of this version carried on for about a year until it was ended very recently. Do note that Final Fantasy XI R was still mentioned in the investor’s deck during the Q3 financial call this November.
As mentioned above, Shim Ki-hoon was then moved on to become the director of TalesWeaver M. Due to the COVID-10 pandemic, communication between Nexon in South Korea and Square Enix in Japan became even more difficult and testing. From Nexon’s point of view, enough effort was made by them, and from Square Enix’s point of view the Final Fantasy IP is still going strong on all platforms, hence there both sides decided to end the collaboration mutually with no hard feelings.
Now, Nexon’s 2 main focus are on developing TalesWeaver M and Project NGR. Project NGR is described as a “realistic medieval fantasy-based mobile MMORPG” powered by Unreal Engine 4. A key feature of the game is the seamless world system, where there is no loading needed to enter new areas. Internally, Project NGR is seen as a “triple A” title which is the most highly-anticipated after the re-evaluation of ongoing projects.