I'm bumping this thread because there's a very interesting interview with Takashi Tokita:http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6351/years_after_the_final_fantasy_iv_.php
Finally a journalist that isn't afraid to ask difficult questions:
I'm sure you have a lot of discussions about it internally, but there was a period where Square games were the most acclaimed, and it's not as consistent anymore. What might bring that time back, in your opinion? How could you approach that sort of period again?
TT: I don't think it's just about Square; it's Japan overall, where we put an over-importance on technology and really let slide some of the important use of story and concept and, really, the collaboration and coordination between the teams. I think, if we find a way again to have teams come together and motivate them and really share their energy and their knowledge, that will really bring that back.
[Tokita pulls out two smartphones -- a Japanese device and an iPhone.]
These two smartphones really exemplify what I mean in terms of an overreliance on technology. Whereas the iPhone is really well-balanced and easy to use overall, this Japanese phone has a lot of great tech features, like a 12 megapixel camera. You don't necessarily need something that high-end. And it's waterproof, and it has a TV antenna. But it's really hard to use. They focus so much on these tech aspects that they've forgotten to create something that's user-friendly.
I like to reflect on Final Fantasy IV and, at the time, how far ahead it was. It's not to say that Square Enix doesn't make games that are on par with what's being made contemporarily, but you don't push as hard anymore.
TT: Right now, we're so influenced by everyone's opinions, and the internet, and everything you hear, and what everyone else is making. I actually think it would be better if we would shut all of that out and just made what we want to make. That would create something that would be more original.
I feel like creating things without getting too hung up on little details, and paying more attention to the importance to the concept itself, is the way to move forward.