Fans that have followed the franchise know that Final Fantasy is no stranger to odd titles. Heck, it's called Final Fantasy after all. While the upcoming Lightning Returns is effectively "Final Fantasy XIII-3," there are many reasons why Square Enix opted to avoid that title. Yoshinori Kitase, producer of the franchise, told us that one of the reasons for the unconventional title is to bolster sales numbers.
According to Square-Enix, the original Final Fantasy XIII shipped 6.6 million copies worldwide. However, its sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2, only shipped 3.2 million copies. While there are many reasons for that drop, Kitase told us that "one of the elements we think that contributed" was "the way we named the title." He said that XIII-2 "may have given the impression to players that you needed to play the first game to enjoy the second."
By breaking convention, Kitase believes they can avoid "excluding [those] who didn't play the previous installments. Our title naming reflects that."
In fact, Kitase believes that Lightning Returns has the potential to beat the original games in terms of appeal. "We're also aiming for this installment to surpass the previous two," he told us. "The core fans of Final Fantasy XIII will enjoy it, as well as new players that are jumping in for the first time."