Hajime Tabata (田畑 端, Tabata Hajime?) is a video game director who worked for Square Enix. He directed Final Fantasy XV and before that mostly worked on portable titles, such as Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Final Fantasy Type-0 and The 3rd Birthday.
During the Final Fantasy XV Second Anniversary broadcasting, Square Enix announced Tabata's resignation from both Luminous Productions and Square Enix as of October 31, 2018. There was a discussion on who would take over the Final Fantasy XV project, and in the end it was decided that the future DLC would be cancelled (bar Episode Ardyn). Tabata decided to quit Square Enix because he wasn't as motivated anymore, and didn't want to hold back the development team. He has assured his quitting the company was not related to Final Fantasy XV or its DLC and has confirmed that he and Square Enix ended their relationship on good terms.
Despite having developed many games on portable platforms, Tabata has got an affinity with more traditional console fare. He has said in an interview that in Japan more and more gamers lean towards games that can be played casually, but he personally enjoys and grew up with core-centric standalone games, wants to preserve the integrity of them, and leave a legacy of these types of games.
There's a physicality to Tabata's games, as seen in the more grounded fantasy of Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy XV. Much of this is rooted in Tabata's upbringing, as his father was a history teacher and his household was filled with sources and books related to the subject, which he constantly read in his spare time.
"When we were making the transition, we sat down and I discussed with Nomura the game," he says. "I felt that I wanted to shift it more to be more realistic. For example, when you're battling a really strong boss like a behemoth, if you go at it from just the front you're going to get hit with his counter-attacks. You have to think about baiting it to attack forward, but then break its stance and attack it from the side. I wanted to make it so you're fighting a real animal, but with easy-to-manipulate controls as well as dramatic effects. My basis was to keep it grounded in reality."
Tabata's personal taste leans towards western games and open worlds.
He thinks one of the strengths of Japanese game development is a strong ethos of making a game right from start to finish, and getting everything solidly down and having a good plan, not letting any single element of the game slip. He describes being the same way, trying at every level to push the game to be the best it can be and keep striving to improve it.
Tabata mentions Yoshinori Kitase and Tetsuya Nomura as his biggest influencers at Square Enix, saying that the passion the two worked with gave him a good sense of what series' creator Hironobu Sakaguchi expected from a Final Fantasy title.
Works in the series
|Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-||2004||Director|
|Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-||2007||Director|
|Final Fantasy Type-0||2011||Director, Scenario Designer|
|Final Fantasy Agito||2014||Producer|
|Final Fantasy Type-0 HD||2015||Producer, Director, Scenario Designer|
|WITCH - Chapter 0 (cry)||2015||Producer, Director|
|Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV||2016||Producer|
|Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV||2016||Producer|
|Final Fantasy XV||2016||Director|
|Final Fantasy Dimensions II||2017||Special Thanks|
|Final Fantasy Awakening||2016||Producer|
- Tabata's favorite Final Fantasy is Final Fantasy VI.
- Tabata wasn't that passionate about the Final Fantasy series when he started working at Square Enix. He had played the first game a lot, but stopped mid-way through Final Fantasy II. Though new Final Fantasy releases drew his attention, he avoided "falling in love" with the series, as he didn't have a chance to develop a game of similar scope himself. After joining Square Enix, however, Tabata could witness the effort that went into developing Final Fantasy firsthand and came to love the series, finally being able to contribute to it himself when he was made the director of Final Fantasy XV.
- An idea of his regarding Final Fantasy is to one day create an installment with the setting backdrop as that of the American Civil War.
- Final Fantasy XV Director Explains The Reason Behind His Departure And Why DLCs Were Cancelled (Accessed: December 18, 2018) at Gearnuke
- Final Fantasy XV Hajime Tabata interview – ‘What it all comes down to is the story’ (Accessed: December 18, 2018) at Metro UK
- Hironobu Sakaguchi and Hajime Tabata Discuss Their Passion for the Series and Behind-the-Scenes Episodes from the Final Fantasy XV Reveal Event (Accessed: December 18, 2018) at Famitsu