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Final Fantasy XIV's Naoki Yoshida dismisses Final Fantasy XVI rumors as "fake news"

Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki Yoshida has heard fan rumour and speculation that he might be directing Final Fantasy XVI - and he's had enough of it.

Asked by fans if he was the 'main director' of the sixteenth entry in the main, numbered Final Fantasy series during a Japanese FF14 broadcast, fan-favorite Yoshida expressed exasperation.

"Ah, looks like some kind of big fake news came out," Yoshida wrote in response to the question, answering through the official FF14 YouTube account in the accompanying text chat to an ongoing FF14 premiere stream. "I'll say it clearly - it's annoying." 

"I'm still going to continue being in charge of FF14 for more years to come (as long as I don't die from sickness or accident)," he wrote, "So please ignore any non-official announcements. It's so bothersome," he added.

Yoshida has maintained a role as director and producer of FF14 since its 2013 reboot, A Realm Reborn.

Yoshida's answer in the chat shoots down rumors like one recently posted to 4chan that pegged him as the director of Final Fantasy XVI, but there's been a lot of indications that Yoshida's 'Business Division' within Square Enix is working on a big-budget game beyond FF14 - and many bet on that game being FF16.

Back in November 2019, Square Enix added an update to a page aiming to recruit new staff for its Third Development Division, the studio headed by Yoshida. The text featured the concept art pictured above and the following text:

"We have laucnhed a new core project following Final Fantasy XIV, and we have begun the challenge for the next generation. This project has already completed its initial development, has completed environment development and is now moving into a full-scale large-scale development phase."

The studio has been hiring for roles that clearly indicate a larger game, plus continued support for FF14, including game system, level, enemy and event designers, social game experts, plus cinematic, concept, environment, animation and visual effects artists, among others. 

Yoshida has shot down the idea of him being the 'main director', but there's every chance his studio's new game is FF16, as there are many experienced hands within his business division who could also take on such a role with Yoshida as producer.

Some of these names, such as concept artist Kazuya Takahashi and designer Kazutoyo Maehiro, have moved to much less significant credited roles or even to special thanks in later FF14 expansions, suggesting they have moved on to a new project. Some have directorial experience, such as Hiroshi Takai, who worked on Yoshida's FF14 but directed 2008's The Last Remnant. This sort of promotion wouldn't be unusual at Square Enix, such as how FF7, 8 and 10 director Yoshinori Kitase turned producer on FF13 and FF7 Remake, handing directorial duties over to other staff who had previously worked under him.

Alternatively, Yoshida's new game could be something else entirely. Time will well, but we now know one thing for sure: when Final Fantasy XVI emerges, Naoki Yoshida will not be the game's main director.

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