Final Fantasy, certainly for the last few years, has not been the hulking titan it once was. With muted responses to releases and some exploitative free to play games, it has been in a messy state.
So messy in fact that Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata says that the franchise was actually on its last legs. After conducting a survey in Japan about the state of the IP, things didn't look great. Speaking to Game Informer (via Gamespot) he said:
The gravest situation of all was that, at the time we were starting Final Fantasy XV, we didn't see an increase in new fans of the franchise. The brand image of Final Fantasy wasn't really clear.
The reality is not that the situation is okay or in favor of us. Rather, it is more grave and serious than we had initially thought. The way we understood Final Fantasy after our analysis is that it was a dying IP that had already peaked.
Tabata did say that they are indeed trying to revive the series with XV with a combination of cutting edge technology, out-of-the-ordinary experience and challenging the status quo. Will they pull it off? I suppose we will have to wait until September to find out.