Kingdom Hearts 3 Development Was Delayed By A Year Due To Unreal Engine 4
Kingdom Hearts 3

People have been wondering exactly hwy the development for Kingdom Hearts 3 has been taking so long. It was announced back in 2013, it was revealed that it was running on the Unreal Engin4 in 2014, and we’ve only now received a tentative 2018 release date. So what’s the hold up?

According to Gamespot, at this year’s D23 Expo hosted by Disney, game director Tetsuya Nomura revealed during a group interview via translator that the entire production lost a year’s worth of time due to being forced to use the Unreal Engine 4, saying…

“There was a decision made to change to an external [engine]…Unreal Engine 4,” […] “So we switched over to that. Unfortunately there was a bit of time that needed to be rewinded and started over. So there was a bit of a setback there, but it was a decision that the company had to make, so it was inevitable.”

For those who had been paying attention to Square’s iniatives before the PS4 and Xbox One released, they were at one point aiming to utilize an internal engine called the Luminous Engine for their projects moving forward. Back in 2012 it looked like the Luminous would be to Square what the Frostbite has been for Electronic Arts. However, it was not meant to be. Due to the lack of horsepower under the hood of the PS4 and Xbox One, the Luminous was just a bit too much for the console hardware.

Later on Square scrapped the idea of using the Luminous and had internal studios switch over to the Unreal Engine 4 after they licensed a multi-game deal with Epic Games to use their game engine.

After Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced in 2013 for the PS4, it was just a year later that Square announced that they had the team switch over to the Unreal Engine 4, as reported by Game Rant.

Switching game engines is no light task, and certainly no laughing matter. As Nomura pointed out during the interview, it caused the team extensive delays, up to a year, as they had to move all the assets over, all the code over, and all the functions over. Some of the things required them to start from scratch, such as completely overhauling and redoing the special effects.

According to Nomura in a separate Gamespot article, given that Final Fantasy VII: Remake and Kingdom Hearts 3 are both running on the Unreal Engine 4, he wanted to make sure that they came up with completely original special effects and particle effects to help differentiate Kingdom Hearts 3 from all the other Unreal Engine 4-powered games.

So technically, they really didn’t hit the ground running until around 2015, where they’ve been fully underway with development. Another hurdle has been Square being stingy when it comes to providing Nomura with personnel to get the game(s) completed.

Nomura explained that he’s been putting in requests for more personnel but Square hasn’t been that willing to pull the trigger and put more people on the project…

“We had a plan of the period that it’s going to take for us to create the content at the start of the project, and we laid out, after such and such years, we would need to add more personnel resources,”


“We had submitted it to our headquarters and had it approved, but internal personnel is very limited, and there are various different projects that happen within our company, so unfortunately timing did not work out. So we had to make due with the timing that was appropriate for the company…the company makes the decisions, so unfortunately sometimes it is out of my control.”

It sounded like Square actually made Nomura’s job a lot harder for him, first by switching them over to the Unreal Engine 4 and then by gimping the allotted resources for the project. We’ll see how well Nomura was able to make due with those restrictions and roadblocks when Kingdom Hearts 3 launches in 2018 for the Xbox One and PS4.


Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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