‘Video games can really heal’: FFXIV composer opens up about secret cancer battle in emotional speech to fans

Ed Nightingale May 17, 2021
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Final Fantasy XIV

Masayoshi Soken. (YouTube)

Final Fantasy XIV composer Masayoshi Soken revealed at the weekend’s Digital Fan Festival he’s been battling cancer, but kept it secret from the development team.

Soken took to the stage towards the end of the second day of the event to share the personal news in an emotional speech.

In March 2020, just before the pandemic began, Soken was diagnosed with cancer.

For around six to seven months, Soken was in hospital and elected not to tell his colleagues about his situation. 

Instead, he decided to keep working on the game in secret. “Thinking about how to use that time, I didn’t want to sit there and do nothing,” he said, via a translator.

“And so I was working there in the hospital room very hard for all those months and finally we were able to release [patch] 5.3, release the song “To The Edge” and seeing the reactions of all of the players from around the world, it helped me conquer this cancer,” he said, holding back tears.

“That’s why I’m able to stand here today, because of all the power I’ve got from everyone,” he said, thanking members of the sound team, the HR department and Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda.

“And we can’t forget it’s you, the players, and all of your comments and all of your love. That’s what brought me back.

“And I realised through all of this that video games can really heal.

“And from here on out, I’m going to continue to give it my all to create great games for you guys.”

Producer Naoki Yoshida, his back turned to the audience, tried desperately to stop weeping in order to close out the festival. Soken then pointed out he didn’t tell anyone in the development team as he didn’t want anyone to worry about him.

He felt that being open about the situation would affect the performance of the team.

“It’s because I wasn’t treated differently, because you gave me the same amount of work, the same kind of orders that you always do that made me feel like nothing had changed. And that’s what got me through this,” he said.

Yoshida then explained it was a tough decision whether to speak about this at the event. Soken had said to him: “If I don’t have something to do, I don’t have anything to live for.”

Square Enix revealed details at the Digital Fan Festival of the forthcoming Final Fantasy XIV expansion Endwalker, including a new Reaper job, male Viera, and the expansion release date: 23 November.

You can watch the event in full in the video below. Soken’s speech begins at 10:36:39.

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