From the FINAL FANTASY XI Development Team
Announcing a New Producer for FINAL FANTASY XI (03/22/2023)

Yoji Fujito will take over as producer of FINAL FANTASY XI for Akihiko Matsui, who has acted as producer on the game since August 1, 2012. The entering and exiting producers would like to share a few words with the players.

Greetings adventurers, Matsui here.

This past year, we celebrated the 20th Vana'versary of FINAL FANTASY XI, and I would like to thank you for helping us celebrate this important milestone. I really feel like our hard work paid off.

As we were preparing to launch the festivities, I gave a lot of thought about what I would do once it was over. I was originally prepared to stay on until retirement, but what would actually happen after that was still up in the air. It was then that Mr. Fujito mentioned his desire to succeed the role of producer. I had much to reflect on during the 20th Vana'versary year, and the fact that it was just about ten years since I took on the producer role, in addition to Mr. Fujito's proposition, felt like a sign of sorts.

You may remember that three years ago, I shared with you our three-year plan for FINAL FANTASY XI as we approached the 20th Vana'versary. I admit to being a touch concerned that some of you would interpret that to mean that we would call it a day once the celebration was over, but instead I was blessed with all the positive reactions of those who were happy to know that the game would continue on for at least three years longer. Some of you were worried whether FFXI was still profitable, and I understood that your biggest fear was the possibility of FFXI shutting down.

When I look back on my approach over the past ten years, I feel I was rather conservative and placed too much emphasis on ensuring that FFXI continues on. The person who proposed making improvements such as revamping the installer and adding the term filter was, in fact, Mr. Fujito. Based on those moments, especially his display of initiative to carry on in my stead, I am confident that no one is more suitable than Mr. Fujito to carry on Vana'diel's legacy as producer.

There are many people whom I would like to thank on this occasion, but I've had previous opportunities to extend my gratitude to everyone, so I'll try to keep things brief.

I was first appointed as producer when we were preparing for the launch of Seekers of Adoulin. It was the first time in a while that we were launching a new expansion, and our team of accomplished developers put forth a tremendous effort. Our team was then downscaled; nevertheless, we poured our heart and soul into Rhapsodies of Vana'diel, the results of which, including the development process, turned into a magnificent memory. Thank you all very much.

Then there are our members who remained with the team afterward. We handpicked the members whom we felt could best cover all aspects of the game with as few members as possible, and it wouldn't have been possible if even a single one of you was missing. We even pushed through the unexpected hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which we owe to your continual stellar performance.

I would also like to thank our former colleagues, who endeavored alongside us in development and operations or supported us through other means. Looking back at the 20th Vana'versary, I am humbled to know that our accomplishments were largely due in part to the immense legacy left behind by those who came before-including our allies from other companies who went above and beyond to assist FFXI. Thank you for all you have done to make the game what it is today, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

And last but not least, to our adventurers: thank you all for supporting FFXI for the past 20 years. The Development team is incredibly fortunate to have such strong and direct encouragement from our passionate players. My heart is filled with gratitude for all of you, the protagonists whose various journeys wove together the world of Vana'diel. Our community is the source of the magic that truly sets FFXI apart from other games. And more than anything else, I enjoy hearing from you about your adventures. I will continue to support FFXI moving forward and hope you'll keep weaving your own tales in Vana'diel.

Akihiko Matsui

Greetings adventurers, Fujito here.

I will be taking over as the new producer of FINAL FANTASY XI. Those of you who follow Freshly Picked Vana'diel may have seen this coming, while this may be a surprise for the rest of you.

Both Mr. Akihiko Matsui and his predecessor Mr. Hiromichi Tanaka were highly influential not only in FFXI, but the FINAL FANTASY franchise as a whole, so I confess to feeling a quite a lot of pressure. Nevertheless, I pledge to do my best in this role and would appreciate your support as I get my bearings.

Since Mr. Matsui has already explained the circumstances behind the switch, I would like to focus on what's to come.

First, I'd like to talk about our Development team. Most of our current Development team has served exclusively on FINAL FANTASY XI for many years. Remaining on the FFXI team full-time, however, would mean giving up certain opportunities in their careers as developers. For developers, working with new technologies and seeing the fruits of their labor take form in new products can be a huge source of motivation and an opportunity to grow. So rather than limit our developers to working exclusively with FFXI and its decades-old technology, I believe it would be better to allow them to gain experience in other development environments and bring back their learnings to FFXI. As such, I have elected to further downscale the scope of our Development team to provide more leeway for our operations to continue. The scope of our version updates will become quite compact as a result, but in exchange, we will focus on stabilizing our operations environment for the medium and long term.

I'd like to go into more detail regarding what this entails. For 2023, we are going to focus on three things in particular:
- Ambuscade updates
- Prime Weapon reforging
- Master Trials

Fortunately for us, the current FFXI Development and Operations teams will continue providing support so that you can keep enjoying all that Vana'diel has to offer in the same way you have until now.

Additionally, we are working on replacing the backend hardware which supports FINAL FANTASY XI's ongoing operations. This may cause maintenance to take longer than usual for some version updates, and I'd like to ask for your understanding as this is necessary to ensure the long-term stability of operations.

We're also looking into holding live events in the real world and releasing new merchandise. The pandemic made it difficult to even entertain such notions these past few years, but we will be proactively monitoring current events for the right timing to make those ideas a reality.

We remain committed to keeping FINAL FANTASY XI an enjoyable environment where you can join fellow adventurers and our teams in their collective enthusiasm for the game, and I look forward to having you with us on this journey.

Finally, I imagine you may still have concerns about the future of FINAL FANTASY XI, which I believe is only natural considering the change in leadership. Please feel free to pose any questions you may have on the official forums and I will address what I can in a future Freshly Picked Vana'diel broadcast, as well as the FFXI Digest for our overseas players.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my greetings as your new producer, and I hope you continue to enjoy FINAL FANTASY XI.

Yoji Fujito