In a refreshingly frank talk with Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada on Japanese site 4Gamer, Tabata mentions what he calls "FF byou" (FF病) or "Final Fantasy disease".
The interview is several pages long, but things get very interesting when Harada asks Tabata if there was backlash during the reorganisation that occurred when he took over.
"Oh yeah, there was," Tabata said. "It wasn't only from inside the team, but outside as well. The reason was that if my way of doing it ended up working, there are those whose circumstances will worsen." (4Gamer noted that Tabata laughed after saying this.)
According to Tabata, there's been negative feedback for Final Fantasy XV, such as, for example, folks not being happy with the character choices and whatnot. Of course, Tabata knew that Final Fantasy was a series with a lot of history, but felt it was important to make changes.
"Around that time, I realised that among fans as well, there are people who've caught FF disease," Tabata said.
4Gamer asked what exactly Final Fantasy disease was, and Tabata replied, "It refers to people within the company who can't imagine anything other than their own view of Final Fantasy. Since the root is a strong self-affirmation, one's own view of Final Fantasy takes more priority than the team's success. If that view of Final Fantasy isn't fulfilled, then they're convinced that it's bad for Final Fantasy. They think, 'Since Final Fantasy is a special team, then we are also special because we are making it. When the new Final Fantasy comes out, everybody is going to be so into it.' But that's not the reality of the situation, is it?"
Damn. Real talk from Tabata.
Continuing, he said, "Because of that, there was a time I told off the team, saying, 'We're not special. Wake up.' Yet, I realised that when Final Fantasy XV news was made public, this wasn't only inside the company. Everyone has FF disease."
Harada pointed out that, to a smaller degree, he's faced pushback when big changes are made to Tekken's game system or character line up.
The voices of those wanting to maintain the status quo, Tabata explained, are certainly the loudest. But, according to him, Final Fantasy has become stronger, bringing it back from the edge of crisis because of the changes. "At this point," Tabata said, "if the series didn't modernise, I think it could've been done for."
We'll have to wait until this spring to see if Final Fantasy XV is just what the JRPG doctor ordered.