Final Fantasy XI is the most profitable in the series—so far. "The director of the reboot, Naoki Yoshida, has a reputation for being a canny designer," says USgamer senior editor Jeremy Parish. A great game could bring back some of that former glory.
Even after so many years, it's possible. "There's a boatload of competition on PC, but Final Fantasy XIV will be the first online role-playing game on PS4," says Ray Barnholt, creator of Scroll, a video-game-history magazine.
Each new iteration of the game uses new characters but the same rules. "This combination—some familiar aspects with some new ideas—makes the Final Fantasy franchise, to some extent, a license to print money," says 14-year fan Phoebe Seiders.
With a game like Final Fantasy, "the equity is in the adventure you craft for yourself and the friends you make while in these vast worlds," says Cesar Bittar, CEO of Phoenix Online Studios. As long as that's there, he says, "you could continue playing forever."
A version of this article appeared in the April 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.