Once again, Square-Enix took to the stage of a media event and built up hopes for fans, only to sucker punch them. This time the event was the PlayStation Experience, and it was the same old, same old; they trotted out something Final Fantasy VII related, the crowd waited in hushed anticipation thinking, “Could it be? Could it finally be? Could it be the game we’ve wanted for years? A new HD re-make of FFVII?!” And, of course, it wasn’t. It was merely an announcement that the PC version was being made available on the PS4.
Since that announcement, the collective Squenix fanbase has been acting like a nerd randomly socked in the stomach; gasping, injured and bitter. They want it. They want a FFVII HD remake really, really bad. Some Internet comments have even gone so far as to say “I’d BUY a new console just for that,” but Squenix keeps refusing to make it.
The crazy thing about this whole business is that financially, it makes absolutely no sense to not to do it. The FFVII brand is legendary, even people who haven’t played the game are passingly familiar with tropes like spikey hair, giant swords, Sephiroth, and something-something-Aerith-waaaah. It’s a game that doesn’t require the same amount of time to design as a new title, since the mechanics are already well established, and it would pull in a massive, massive profit. It is a game that is one of those most rare of products, a license to print money. And Square-Enix, as a publicly traded company, is in the business of staying profitable. To make money is the basic principle of any business, yet, for some reason, despite the fact that a FFVII remake is a guaranteed money-maker, Squenix refuses to commit. What possible reason do they have, year after year, to refuse?
One random Internet commenter hilariously speculated that maybe some of the Squenix executives can’t swim, and therefore, there’s a real danger of them drowning from the flood of money FFVII would create. Others, less hilariously and more bitterly, simply think Squenix hates their fans.
The truth is probably a lot more complicated.
My own theories are that Squenix is in one of three possible states of mind about FFVII. There’s the creative approach, which is simply that the staff view themselves as artists, and see it as insulting to return to FFVII and take the “easy” way out. It’s less interesting to re-do FFVII, for example, than it is to try something new with FFXV. Then there’s the “emergency button” rationale, which is simply that Squenix knows FFVII is their 100%, guaranteed, “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, and they’re saving that project for a day when they really are backed into a corner, with no hope for recovery. After all, they can probably only do this once, so they’d better make sure they have a situation dire enough to justify using their one and only ace in the hole.
The final reason is a mix of both; perhaps they’re waiting for the right technology to finally do it. Fans, of course, got teased during the PS3 era when Squenix showed off a demo of their new graphics engine, and they used the opening of FFVII to do it. That got most fans swooning, and ever since then, no one has been able to let go of the idea that the graphic upgrade would be legendary. But Squenix has also cautioned the public on more than one occasion that it’s not as easy to do FFVII as it is something like FFX. The graphics would have to be redone from the ground up, not simply set to a higher resolution. They might also have to make drastic design changes, such as making the environments real time and polygonal, giving the player the opportunity to control the camera as they are used to in modern games. It could simply be they are waiting for a PS5 or PS6 that can sustain the kind of graphics seen in Advent Children, because the Squenix creative staff won’t settle for anything less than a visual knock out.
Obviously, Square-Enix doesn’t hate money. From a reputation perspective, their Japanese studios are in trouble as their biggest successes have come from their Western stable. Perhaps FFVII is their “super-attack” that they are working on quietly, but constantly, hoping to finally give their fans—and investors—the remake they deserve.
That, or they really do just hate their fans.