We've known for a long time that Final Fantasy XVI would be the first mainline franchise entry to be rated M (Mature). The first hint was provided by the European board PEGI, which slapped the September 2020 debut trailer with an 18 provisional rating.
The rating was later confirmed closer to launch by various rating boards in Brazil, the United States, and most other countries. Gamers always assumed this had to do with the developers' explicit goal to tell a more mature storyline inspired by the likes of Game of Thrones.
However, speaking to Game Informer, Producer Naoki Yoshida revealed that making a more violent game was not at all a goal, and the rating went up largely because the regulations are stricter than they were in the past.
We actually get this question a lot – people ask us if the rating went up because we wanted to make a more violent game, and the answer to that is no. On the outside, it doesn’t appear the rating system has changed. You still have your E, you still have your Teen, and you still have your Mature. The problem is that over the years, as more games have come out and as we move forward, the regulations within those have actually changed a lot. We’re finding ourselves not able to do as much to get the same rating we did before.
Game Director Hiroshi Takai added that this is mostly due to the far greater visual realism enabled by current hardware.
With the new generations of hardware and the visuals becoming more and more realistic, if you want to tell a story that feels real, it also needs to look real. By showing realistic visuals, it’s hard to keep that within the realms of a lower rating because it becomes so visceral, and I think you can see this trend since the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 when graphics became a bit more realistic.
By moving up to a higher rating, it allows us to tell the story we want to tell without having to fake it. If you’re trying to tell a story about war, but you can’t show blood, it’s not going to be realistic.
Final Fantasy XVI is set to launch exclusively on PlayStation 5 on June 22nd. A PC version will be worked on after this console launch and will likely manifest at some point in 2024.