Final Fantasy VII is a game that, love it or hate it, has become one of the flagship games of Square Enix’s long-running RPG series. For many, it was the first experience with the JRPG, at the time, and it became one of the reasons for the success of the original Playstation. Fully rendered cut scenes, memorable characters and a huge world to explore lead to many joyful and fond hours remembered trying to stop Meteor from occurring and Sephiroth from destroying the world. Since its launch in 1997, it has sold over 11 million copies and has been ported to PC, Steam and iOS throughout the years. Final Fantasy VII also has a rich and deeply expanded the universe with games like the indirect sequel Dirge of Cerberus focusing on Vincent and the prequel, Crisis Core, focusing on Zack and Sephiroth. Also, throw in the full-length CGI film, Advent Children, which is more or less a true sequel to the story and Final Fantasy VII can be seen as one of the most beloved and established franchises not so much in RPGs but in gaming.
One of the biggest things on Final Fantasy VII fans’ wishlist was the remastering of the game to current generation standards. This began a massive campaign asking Square Enix for it after Sony used Final Fantasy VII as the base of a tech demo to show off the power of the Playstation 3. After multiple times being asked, then CEO of Square Enix, Yoichi Wada, said that the remake of Final Fantasy VII would not happen until they were able to surpass the quality of the title with their current generation of the Final Fantasy franchise. This seemingly solidified that a full HD remake of the game was nowhere in the plans for a long time. Then came E3 2015.
At E3 2015 during Sony’s press conference, VP of Developer Relations, Adam Boyes, made a bombshell announcement….Final Fantasy VII was being remade for the PS4.
Speculations and rumors were put to rest and the fans finally would be getting what they had wanted for years. An HD Final Fantasy VII, built for that, from the ground up. This news caused an explosion on the internet as well as loud cheers among those in the E3 audience. Unfortunately, recent news has cast a large doubt over this entire process and it brings up the time old saying “Be careful what you wish for”.
At the 2015 Playstation Experience, it was announced that the remake was not going to be one singular game but episodic in nature. Later, when asked for further clarification, Square Enix also stated that each episode would be a full sized game and would explore other areas of the universe that the original Final Fantasy VII did not. Outside of setting a 2016 launch window, not much else has been said about the game, but this is not an unusual action from Square Enix.
The news of the Final Fantasy VII remake being episodic creates some massive issues. The first of which being that the game we were sold and promised at E3 is not the game we are getting. Square Enix has for years been experimenting with the idea of episodic games such as the Final Fantasy XIII series and the fragmenting of the Kingdom Hearts‘ story across multiple handheld games. With Square Enix doing this to Final Fantasy VII, they are making the gamble that we will buy into their desired model of fewer games for more overall. Also, throw in the fact that they waited between E3 and the PS Experience to announce this and it comes across less than genuine that they want to just make the game right and this is the best way to make that happen.
Secondly, by making the games episodic, they are putting the full risk of its success on the player, thus, in the event the game does not do well, shifting the blame. Keep in mind that this is the same Square Enix that sold around 11 million units total across the launches of Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider and still claimed a loss at their 2013 shareholders meeting. By making Final Fantasy VII episodic, this is a possible scenario. Hypothetically, they could release Episode one having huge sales on a game that is not good, at all. Then, they release Episode two and, because Episode one was low quality, it only shows half the sales of the first one. Now, because of this and if they take a loss on releasing it, do we get an Episode three? What happens if this backfires? Does it become our fault that the game didn’t do well? Is it fair to say we are the ones to blame if they stop making the series halfway through?
Now, the biggest issue to take away from all of this and something to keep in mind is that the company, Squaresoft, that made the original Final Fantasy VII is not the same as Square Enix, the maker of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Square Enix, for years, has become the prime example of a bloated company unable to maintain themselves. The pricing of Final Fantasy III, IV, V, and VI are all $15.99 on Steam and these are the same price as Final Fantasy XIII. All that says is they value their older games more than they value their newest release, and shows the lack of confidence they have in the new generation of Final Fantasy.
Square Enix says they are expanding the universe and making each episode of the Final Fantasy VII Remake as big as a game. But, looking at their past, this is the same as the “games as a service” remark that EA uses to justify DLC. This is not an attempt to do justice with one of the gems of an entire genre, but them using our nostalgic love against us to try and sell us a fragmented, broken up and overall weaker experience than we played almost 20 years ago.
So guys, you planning on checking out Episode one or does the episodic format upset you too? Let us know in the comments below and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more Final Fantasy news.
From Biloxi MS, college in Hattiesburg, lover of video games, B movies and suplexing bears through tables.