A fun-filled Final Fantasy 14 Fan Festival took place amid the effects of a pandemic delaying the development team's plans. Initially scheduled for 2020, the Fan Fest was delayed to an online-only event in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Final Fantasy 14 patch was also delayed for months due to places of work adapting to COVID-19.
To update Final Fantasy 14 with Patch 5.3, the development team had to address the challenges posed by social distancing regulations and a changing office environment. Consequently, the series director Naoki Yoshida and the rest of the staff also had to adjust to this 'new normal'. Although the work conditions kept the next major patch from being released until the summer, a very important development team member was undergoing life-saving treatment.
Masayoshi Soken battled cancer while he made the music for the patch
During the closing ceremony, the series' composer revealed that he had been battling cancer for most of this year while working on music for Patch 5.3. The pandemic of Coronavirus forced the cancellation of an upcoming concert of the band The Primals, and Masayoshi Soken was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. He spent the next seven months in the hospital. He worked on the soundtrack for the 5.3 update in the hospital until he felt well enough to leave.
The only to know about Masayoshi Soken's situation was Square CEO Yosuke Matsuda and series director Naoki Yoshida. If others on Masayoshi Soken's development team knew, it would have stopped any work on the update. Yoshida broke down in tears, expressing joy that his "best friend" was back with him after the Coronavirus prevented anyone from visiting him. In Patch 5.4 onwards, Masayoshi Soken continued to play an important role, continuing the work done from his hospital.
The brave composer and beloved friend stands strong today
As he stood with his colleagues, surrounded by his coworkers and friends, he thanked the fans for their ongoing support. At this point, Masayoshi Soken was in nearly full remission. Once kept a secret, Masayoshi Sakon disclosed the secret during the closing speech leaving many fans feeling touched by his dedication. The translator, Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, struggled to stay composed as Composer Masayoshi Soken shared his reaction to 5.3's theme song, "To The Edge," one of several that helped him fight cancer.
The motivation to continue working "for the fans" led to Masayoshi Soken's remission, which was greeted with a positive response from fans of Final Fantasy 14. That led to the hashtag "#WelcomeBackSoken" trending on Twitter. Despite unexpected hardships and ill health, the development team continues to work tirelessly for FF14's fans, which provides the most support to the team. It is because of this relationship that Endwalker is such a highly anticipated expansion to Final Fantasy 14.
We at GFinity also welcome composer Masayoshi Soken back and admire his dedication to his craft and the fans. Developers like him genuinely are an inspiration in the industry, and we are humbled by having known his struggles.