Why Kingdom Hearts 3 Took So Long Explained

Kingdom Hearts 3, the long-awaited sequel
to Square Enix’s and Disney’s wild but also brilliant series is upon us. For many fans of the series, the wait started
back in 2005 when Kingdom Hearts 2 was released. To some extent they were right, as Kingdom
Hearts 2 came to a close, the game’s director, Tetsuya Nomura approached Disney with requests
for a sequel. Years before Kingdom Hearts 3 would technically
start development, Nomura told Disney that Pixar properties would need to be part of
the next main title if there were to ever be one. It was a request that took years for Pixar
to approve. Nomura has submitted an early outline story
to Pixar along with character designs but as compared to the Disney collaboration in
Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, Pixar was much more hands on. Nomura described it as being a creator to
creator collaboration as compared to Disney feeling like a second party license in previous
Kingdom Hearts games. It was an extra level of complexity, but one
worth the wait that set the groundwork for production to start. However, through a series of spin-off titles,
project juggling and development woes, the real wait for Kingdom Hearts didn’t start
until around 2012. A full year before it’s official reveal,
Kingdom Hearts 3 gameplay tests began on unreal engine 3. A very early gameplay concept for the title
was actually on last generation hardware despite it being initially planned for the PS4 and
Xbox One. At Sony’s E3 2013 press conference, Tetsuya
Nomura surprised the audience with not only the reveal of Final Fantasy Versus XIII now
becoming Final Fantasy XV, but the holy grail for Kingdom Hearts fans, Kingdom Hearts 3. Despite being quite literally at the foundation
of the new project, Square Enix and Nomura decided to reveal the project as being in
early development and early development it was. The longtime director of the series Tetsuya
Nomura would be returning as director for the third mainline title but with a brand
new team. You see around December 2013, Square Enix
internally had a restructuring of their development teams into a new business structure. While Square Enix’s Product Development Division
1 team worked on Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, KH3 would be handled by Square Enix’s 1st Production
Department. Their repertoire of titles included Dream
Drop Distance, hd 1.5 remix and hd 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. Following in the steps of Final Fantasy XV
which was also being directed by Nomura at the time, Kingdom Hearts 3 would be using
the new luminous engine developed by Square Enix. This would technically be the first game engine
switch considering the first gameplay tests were on unreal engine 3. With a new engine at the forefront and a game
being built by a team that wasn’t part of the engine’s creation, a lot of the early
development was focused on getting familiar with the engine and creating assets for the
engine to test in. It essentially was new and unfamiliar territory
for a lot of the development team, a decision that would only elongate the release of Kingdom
Hearts 3. With development now starting to speed up
on Kingdom Hearts 3, Nomura found himself being spread thin across working as a director
for both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3. As a result in 2014, the decision was made
for Nomura to fully focus on Kingdom Hearts while Hajime Tabata took over Final Fantasy
XV. To the public, it seemed like a logical decision
but so much more was happening internally at the time. It was around the director change that the
executive heads at Square Enix decided to completely switch Kindom Hearts 3’s game
engine mid-development. The luminous engine was proving to be a tough
set up to work with as it meant resources and time were spent on getting adjusted to
the new tools at the team was also trying to test and create new gameplay elements for
Kingdom Hearts. The already long development cycle left Square
Enix uneasy and so Unreal Engine 4 became the new engine for Kingdom Hearts 3. While it would ultimately become a beneficial
change for the development team, it also introduced its own set of challenges with a time constraint. The mid-development engine change cost the
development team about a year’s worth of work, having to rewind work and essentially restart
progress that had already been made. It was a decision that was completely out
of Normura’s hands but it would ultimately make development a much smoother process once
things got back on track. Being an “all in one” engine with plenty
of industry-wide used tools, Unreal Engine 4 was much easier to use and experiment with. Even those part of the development team without
any art experience could load up gameplay programs to test without needing any assets
to be made. With development back underway, Nomura expressed
his interest in taking new approaches to the series with the possibility of online functionality
in the future. Previously Nomura had released final mix versions
of both Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. These directors cut like versions included
new gameplay sections and endings that weren’t previously in the original. With the current generation hardware, Nomura
could add that extra content as DLC or patches after the games initial release. These tools would end up being used to keep
the secret ending from the game leaking. In 2018, development finally saw the light
at the end of the tunnel. Kingdom Hearts 3 was split up into three sections
with three worlds in each and their completion rates were close to being complete. Aside from some cutscenes, music, and the
secret ending, major gameplay elements were just about done. In February 2018, Utada Hikaru’s Don’t
Think Twice or Chikai in Japanese was revealed. This would be the ending song to Kingdom Hearts
3, a song that Nomura described as not being straight forward like Simple and Clean. Rather than having a strong start, it’s
a slow song with complex composition, one that pierces you deeper the more you listen
to it. Later that same year, Square Enix revealed
that the intro song the game would be a collaboration between Utada Hikaru and Skrillex. Perhaps an odd collaboration at first impression
but one that seems meant to be now. Utada had originally requested Skrillex to
remix Don’t Think Twice since she knew he was a Kingdom Hearts fan. Skrillex instead suggested an original piece
together and the rest was history. Titled Face My Fears, the song has a feeling,
unlike the previous songs, sporting an album art drawn by Tetsuya Nomura himself. It has artist Utada Hikaru holding two keyblades,
a note that Nomura jokingly stated, it must mean she has two hearts. Everything seemed right on track for Kingdom
Hearts 3 but that would soon be shaken up for a number of different reasons. While initially scheduled to release in 2018,
Square Enix really wanted a simultaneous worldwide release for Kingdom Hearts 3. With marketing and media to consider not only
for the United States and Japan, ultimately it was decided that a late January 2019 release
would be the best option. The development team had considered pushing
the release date up but it would have also added more pressure to speed up work and perhaps
lead to errors. An extra month of development time would let
the team do some last minute refinements and let Square Enix better market the game online. That brings us to the present, with just days
left to go before Kingdom Hearts 3 releases in Japan on the 25th and North America on
the 29th, fans around the world eagerly anticipate the conclusion of the Xehanort saga. For Tetsuya Nomura, it’s a story he’s
been waiting well over 15 years to tell and is excited for everyone to see. “It does come to an end, but I’m not fully
swayed to one emotion. I’m not really happy, I’m not really sad. I’m just more relieved that I was able to
tell the full story. The story is a culmination of the past decade
and more. Of course, there are a lot of surprises….but
I think I just want to say that the last battle in the game is something I want everyone to
see as well as this new original location that I’ve really wanted to create for a
long time now. If I had to say just one though, it’d be
the last battle.”

40 thoughts on “Why Kingdom Hearts 3 Took So Long Explained

  1. Basically, they had to switch the entire game engine from the Luminos Engine to the Unreal Engine 4. They also had 2 other projects in the works such as FFXV and the FF7 Remake.

  2. Hey everyone, thanks for checking out the video! It's not my usual content but I've been loving these documentary type videos. I like to focus on things I'm incredibly interested or passionate about so the last one was on Tetris Effect (one of my favorite games of all time) and with Kingdom Hearts 3 coming out soon, I wanted to make one for it too! I love the Kingdom Hearts series, it's my favorite video game series of all time! I thought it'd be fun and interesting to do a little deep dive into the development of the game and see just why it took so long to make. If you enjoyed the video then please consider thumbing it up and sharing, may your heart be your guiding key! <3

  3. Wow I can't believe that this long awaited game took so long to work on & now this game will finally be release this Friday the 25th the countdown is on guys.

  4. I loved how you separated parts of the video with different tracks. I can’t wait till the 29th, I’m gonna die!

  5. Hey man, seems like you don’t post all that much anymore!
    Hopefully you review both resident evil 2 and kingdom hearts 3.

  6. I've never actually played a Kingdom Hearts game before. I'm pretty hyped for the 3rd one. Will I be okay to start from the 3rd or do I have to play the previous instalments first?

  7. I am Finally getting my ps4 pro on February and then I'll play all remasters of kingdom hearts and than I'll go with kh3. Although a lot of people were complaining about the story being poorly written I'd say it was unfinished up until kh3

  8. I also heard that he didn’t want to make KH3 for a while when KH2 released back then, keep up the amazing work Luis, wouldn’t mind seeing more videos like this! 😀

  9. Amazing video Luis, I've been waiting for this game since I was in elementary school (i'm a senior in high school now!) I'm really liking this documentary style videos you're doing.

    Side note: the sound design of the video is fantastic. All the music is amazing to hear, especially love the orchestral sanctuary at the end of the video

  10. Great video. I'm not a KH fan (I grew up on Nintendo only), but it is interesting to see a little about the history. I'm happy for all the fans that finally get a conclusion to the story. I'll be jamming out to the music

  11. Lucky japan. only 4 more days for them. Maybe I should just buy it on the japanese store and when it releases again.

  12. Square Enix’s Business Division 1 worked on FFX, FFX-2, FFXIII trilogy and now FFVIIR
    – Business Division 2 worked on KH1, KH2 & FFXV
    – Business Division 3 worked on Re:CoM, BBS, DDD, the remasters and KH3

  13. Hopefully this time with KH4 it doesn't make the same mistakes 3 did. Hopefully it releases in a more timely fashion.

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