Hiromichi Tanaka will return to the indie scene once he recovers.
If you like Japanese RPGs, there's a good chance that you've played a game that Hiromichi Tanaka worked on at some point. In addition to taking on designer roles in a number of Final Fantasy games, he also produced and worked on battle systems for Chrono Cross and Xenogears. However, Tanaka's days at Square Enix will soon be behind him. Citing health reasons, the prolific producer has decided to step away from the storied company and focus on his recovery. If and when he returns to the industry, it will be as an indie developer.
Although Tanaka has not revealed exactly which illness he is facing, he describes it as a serious one. Whatever it is, it either requires a great deal of time for treatment, or would render him unable to cope with the everyday responsibilities of game design at a major company. While Tanaka hopes he will recover and return to the videogame scene in a smaller capacity, his days of mega-hits and their associated stresses are most likely behind him for good.
Tanaka is perhaps best known as the producer of popular MMO Final Fantasy XI, which Square Enix recently revealed as its most profitable Final Fantasy game. We wish Tanaka the best during his recovery, but even if he finds himself unable to return to the world of gaming, making the top-grossing game in one of the medium's most iconic series is a pretty impressive achievement on which to rest.