Overall, the Final Fantasy series has been critically acclaimed and commercially successful, though each installment has seen different levels of success. The series has seen a steady increase in total sales; it sold over 10 million units worldwide by early 1996, 45 million by August 2003, 63 million by December 2005, and 85 million by July 2008. In June 2011, Square Enix announced that the series had sold over 100 million units, and by March 2014, it had sold over 110 million units. Its high sales numbers have ranked it as one of the best-selling video game franchises in the industry; in January 2007, the series was listed as number three, and later in July as number four. As of 2018, the series has sold over 142 million units worldwide.
The series affected Square's business on several levels. The commercial failure of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within resulted in hesitation and delays from Enix during merger discussions with Square. Square's decision to produce games exclusively for the Sony PlayStation—a move followed by Enix's decision with the Dragon Quest series—severed their relationship with Nintendo. Final Fantasy games were absent from Nintendo consoles, specifically the Nintendo 64, for seven years. Critics attribute the switch of strong third-party games like the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games to Sony's PlayStation, and away from the Nintendo 64, as one of the reasons behind PlayStation being the more successful of the two consoles. The release of the Nintendo GameCube, which used optical disc media, in 2001 caught the attention of Square. To produce games for the system, Square created the shell company The Game Designers Studio and released Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, which spawned its own metaseries within the main franchise. Final Fantasy XI's lack of an online method of subscription cancellation prompted the creation of legislation in Illinois that requires internet gaming services to provide such a method to the state's residents.