Final Fantasy VII is one of the most beloved videogame titles of all time. A game so revered and well-loved that audiences haven’t stopped asking for a remaster. So when said remaster finally appeared at E3 2015, fans lost their collective minds. Sadly though, for the second E3 in a row, the game has been absent from Sony’s showcase – leading to a feeling that they may have announced the game way to early.
Not that you can blame them too much for doing so. It was a major coup for Sony to get that game up on stage as it gave PlayStation some major fan love. In the shadow of its announcement, endless Youtuber’s, commentators and pundits worshiped the ground Sony and Square Enix walked on. Fans had been begging for a Final Fantasy VII remake since PlayStation 3’s tech demo; but here it was in the flesh. Well CG trailer, but that’s as good as it gets at E3.
But here’s the thing, that was two years ago.
Square-Enix in that time have only offered a trickle of information about the game; leaving fans to create their own speculation. Screenshots and videos have appeared, but nothing as grand as that announcement trailer. Many fans assumed that the big news was being saved for E3, the place where the game would have a stage worthy of the information. It’s absence from E3 2017 suggests that it won’t be coming in the next twelve months – meaning more waiting for eager fans. Those same pundits that couldn’t stop throwing praise at a CG trailer are awkwardly making excuses for why the game has seemingly gone MIA.
It leads to the feeling that Sony may have jumped the gun in showcasing the title so early, in particular if there’s nothing to show about the game two years later. One of the problems with hyping so far in advance is that people want updates on those games. Game development is a very closed shop; like building a car. It takes time to put the pieces together and make everything work. Fans don’t care about this, they just want to see that the game they want is coming along fine. It’s a reasonable demand when you dangle the carrot then take it away for years at a time
Sony’s conference was very much about providing updates to games we mostly knew were coming – so the lack of Final Fantasy 7 really makes me concerned. It makes me wonder if Sony and Square Enix had kept quiet about Final Fantasy 7’s remake, instead waiting until the team had something more substantial to show off.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had drips and drabs of information about VII’s combat – but E3 is the centerpiece of the annual gaming calendar. It’s where the big games get shown off. It’s where Sony and Microsoft fight for fan adulation. You’d have thought that Sony would leap at the chance to get any new information out, even if it was just another teaser to get fans going. It’s a weird situation, and it’s one that played into the feeling of underwhelming returns during the PlayStation E3 2017 Conference.
It’s not the first time Square Enix have done this either. Final Fantasy XV infamously took over a decade to arrive, while Dragon Quest fans had to endure a long wait to get any substantial news about Dragon Quest XI – the latest game in that series. Announced long ago, Square seemingly opted to not keep fans in the loop – frustrating and only serving to harm the build for their game. It’s a silly behavior that the company needs to get out – in particular if it’s going to begin playing with the episodic release model.
Square Enix were very clear that they see this game a multiple part beast – but if it takes them forever to get the episodes out, gamers won’t be too impressed. Telltale has shown how its done with their library of episodic offerings, while Hitman delivered almost monthly content. Those games impressed under the format – but if Square allow for long gaps in between each offering; the same won’t be said for Final Fantasy VII. They need to get that right; I just don’t think they will as things stand.
It smacks me as weird that both Sony and Square Enix rushed to announce a game that is nowhere near completion. It doesn’t help videogames at all; only heaping pressure on those working on it. Fans are patient – but if you don’t keep the fire alive, it goes out. Square Enix need to work on their communication – because right now they’re not inspiring me to believe they can deliver on the promised offering. And if they mess it up Final Fantasy VII’s remake, it won’t just be me that’s frustrated.