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Final Fantasy 16 Producer's Stance On Diversity Has Fans Divided

It's been nearly two years since "Final Fantasy 16" was announced, and all fans have to go off for speculation about the next entry in the longstanding series is a few story-heavy but gameplay-light trailers. As a result, fans have a pretty decent idea of the direction of the next "Final Fantasy" game, and one detail has caused a bit of a discussion in the community: the lack of non-white characters in every trailer released so far. In an interview with IGN, a group of directors and producers from Square Enix expanded some of these details and fielded questions on the lore and characters of "Final Fantasy 16" — including its apparent lack of diversity.

Producer Naoki Yoshida responded to a question on whether fans can expect the first M-rated "Final Fantasy" game to be more diverse than the trailers seem to imply. Apparently, it won't. Yoshida said this is due to the "geographical, technological, and geopolotical" constraints of the setting of Valisthea. "Ultimately, we felt that while incorporating ethnic diversity into Valisthea was important, an over-incorporation ... could end up causing a violation of those narrative boundaries we originally set for ourselves," Yoshida said. "The story we are telling is fantasy, yes, but it is also rooted in reality."

Valisthea's lack of diversity is intentional, and Final Fantasy fans aren't happy

Naoki Yoshida gave a number of reasons why the lack of diversity in "Final Fantasy 16" makes sense in the world the team is trying to create. "Our design concept from the earliest stages of development has always heavily featured medieval Europe," Yoshida said, later adding that "It can be challenging to assign distinctive ethnicities to either antagonist or protagonist without ... stoking flames of controversy." However, this choice caused quite a stir in the "Final Fantasy" community, as multitudes of fans have criticized the direction of the game in the days following the interview.

One fan said that "dragons, goblins, Ifrit and magic can all be in 'Final Fantasy' ... but black people are the unrealistic element to the narrative boundaries because the game is rooted in reality?" Being, quote, "rooted in reality" despite also being a fantasy game was one of the most heavily criticized parts of the entire interview, to the point that some thought his response worse than not saying anything at all. 

His take was described as a "cop-out and terribly disappointing" by another fan, who also said it's OK to be excited about "Final Fantasy 16" and, at the same time, criticize Yoshida's response to the question of diversity in the upcoming game. To some, Yoshida's response isn't a surprise as representation in "Final Fantasy" has long been a topic of discussion in the community.