Kingdom Hearts 3 Director Says It's Square's Fault The Game Is Taking So Long

Kingdom Hearts 3 director Tetsuya Nomura says the extended development cycle is "out of his hands". The third Kingdom Hearts is taking this long, he says, because of technology changes and decisions made by higher-ups at Square Enix.

Speaking to my good buddy Mike Rougeau over at GameSpot, Nomura blamed a switch to the third-party Unreal Engine 4 and a personnel shortage for Kingdom Hearts 3's drawn-out development. "A lot of people have been mentioning and making it sound like 'Oh, Nomura's taking too much time,'" he said. "There was a decision made to change to an external [engine]... Unreal Engine 4... So we switched over to that. Unfortunately there was a bit of time that needed to be rewinded and started over. So there was a bit of a setback there, but it was a decision that the company had to make, so it was inevitable."

Nomura added that he'd submitted a proposal detailing how many staff he needed to make Kingdom Hearts 3 and that Square Enix's bosses had approved that proposal, but other projects took priority. "We had to make due with the timing that was appropriate for the company... the company makes the decisions, so unfortunately sometimes it is out of my control," he said.

It's been a long wait for Kingdom Hearts 3, which was announced at E3 2013 for PS4 and Xbox One and had been teased for a long time before that. The last mainline entry in the series, Kingdom Hearts 2, came out for the PlayStation 2 in 2005.

This weekend, Square Enix showed off more of Kingdom Hearts 3, announcing a Toy Story world and declaring that the game would be out in 2018. We'd seen several trailers over the past few years, but this was the first time that Nomura and crew announced a release window. (It's fair to be sceptical of that one.)

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Nomura, who worked as director of Final Fantasy Versus 13 before Square rebooted it as Final Fantasy 15 in mid-2012 and placed Hajime Tabata in charge, appeared keen to clarify that Kingdom Hearts 3's lengthy development is the result of decisions made over his head.

"I wanted to emphasise that it wasn't a problem on our development teams," he told GameSpot. "It just happened that way, and there were some decisions that the company had to make, and it just didn't work out for certain timings that we were hoping to hit. It's kind of out of my hands. I mean, yes, time has passed. But it's out of my hands."


    The development hasn't really geen that protracted, especially by Square Enix standards. Yes, KH2 was 12 years ago now, but it's not like they've been working on KH3 for that entire time. 358/2 Days, Birth By Sleep, and most importantly 3D/Dream Drop Distance, which was released in 2012, have all come out since then. Following the release of 3D, Nomura was working on FF15 so the earliest he'd seriously have been looking at KH3 was after he was replaced, around the time of 3D's release. That's a six year development time, which is not too bad at all by Squenix standards, especially including a change in engine.

    I point this out because it feels to me like while this series is beloved to its fans, it often seems like the wider gaming media has a bit of prejudice against it; I've seen the plot described as byzantine and numerous articles like this that seek to make out that it's got a long and troubled development or something, none of which is true. I really think it's misleading to talk about KH2 as the measure for how long it's taken KH3 to come out.

    I'm inclined to believe him, because this is Square we are talking about, however, Nomura was also involved heavily with FF Versus, a game whose development issues are virtually the stuff of legend by this point, with large swaths of the story re-written multiple times, multiple builds of the game junked and many, many, god knows how many trailers showcasing characters and set-piece events that never made it into FF15. While I am absolutely willing to believe that Square could be responsible, Nomura might be deflecting blame from himself.

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