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Opinion

The Final Fantasy VII Remake Might Turn Away Fans Instead of Creating New Ones

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In 1997, Square Enix, then Square Soft, released a title that would change the role-playing genre forever. Until then, the genre only found popularity within smaller, niche communities. In January of that year, Square Soft released Final Fantasy VII,a classic that would hold a special place in gamers’s hearts for years to come.

Until my early teens, I had only heard of the marvel known as Final Fantasy VII. Before that point, I had never experienced the game or seen much of its offerings. For years, I searched stores for a copy until finally locating a version that broke my juvenile bank. I had finally earned a chance to experience a game I had, until then, only known through word of mouth and, after my first few hours with it, found love.

Final Fantasy VII gave me characters to care about and a cause worth fighting for. With a protagonist as gloomy as Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII’s extended cast of misfits needed to outshine the leading man and give players a reason to care. The lovable Aerith/Aeris, adamant Tifa, and strong-headed Barret are some examples of FFVII’s supporting cast that remains iconic into modern gaming.

At E3 2015, Square Enix surprised audiences with the announcement that Final Fantasy VII would be getting a full-fledged remake. Fans would ride an emotional high for a while before the title was announced to be broken into multiple parts. A multi-part release, along with some questionable visuals and character design, was enough to shift fan excitement to worry, until both the game and conversation faded out of the limelight.

During Sony’s State of Play stream, audiences were shown new gameplay for the Remake, which featured adjusted character models and the inclusion of more beloved characters. Once again, fans were left on an emotional high after the stream until confirmation came later that the title would still be chopped up into multiple releases.

Square Enix is advertising this game as being too large for a single launch window. For reference sake, the single-player experience of Red Dead Redemption 2 launched in full in October 2018. Given how grand the narrative is for Red Dead Redemption 2, the title still needed a separate disc for installation. Nonetheless this did not encourage Rockstar to split the title into multiple launches. What Square Enix is effectively stating here, is that the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be more expansive than Red Dead Redemption 2 – a title that is already one of the largest games to date. Either the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be groundbreaking for the industry, or this is an attempt by Square Enix to capitalize on the fandom surrounding this beloved title.

As a primary curiosity, fans want to know how the game will be divided. For now, all that is known around this subject is just rumors and speculation, but that does not eliminate the need to discuss such possibilities. For example, will the game be split into two parts or will the division be more akin to the three-disc original version? This version of the split would be more faithful to the original, but then creates a new issue for fans.

The more parts Final Fantasy VII Remake finds itself in, the more expensive the overall experience will be for the players. Square Enix has not yet explained how it will charge for this remake. Given past trends within the industry, the potential for monetization comes via DLCs, expansions, or season passes. For example, Square’s previous entry into the Final Fantasy series – Final Fantasy XV – saw numerous added content post launch, including a second season pass before being cancelled. Additionally, the title received mobile spin-offs and tie-ins full of micro-transactions. In a perfect world, Square Enix would release each part at a lower price point than a full title, allowing the consumer to experience the full game at a ‘normal’ price. Fans will have to wait a little longer to get details on the pricing models, seeing as a release window for the first part is still nonexistent.

One aspect Square Enix should keep in mind, however, is player retention. As with past episodic titles, the possibility always exists for the playerbase to die off during the down time between releases. A large player-base exists that wait until the full title is released before purchasing and playing the game. Since Final Fantasy fans are not used to this kind of launch, many of them may purchase the first part out of excitement and anticipation and become turned off by the required indefinite wait afterwards.

For Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square’s decision to release the game in parts may not be as beneficial as it initially believes. Since the game is a remake, fans will have a certain expectation for the quality of its execution and development. The expectation towards the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be exceedingly high due to the fact that a Final Fantasy VII revered by many already exists. Ultimately, some fans will be disappointed by the remake depending on how faithful the content is to the original, already placing Square at a disadvantage with this beloved IP.

Despite the negativity surrounding Square’s insistence on breaking up the title, excitement for the Final Fantasy VII Remake remains high as fans are once again discussing what it may have to offer. Despite the confirmation of an episodic release, the community will not have any concrete facts until the game’s next showing later this year. Until then, all one can do is speculate based on trends within the gaming industry. I am genuinely excited to see a title loved by many re-imagined for modern technology, but the potential of it turning away die-hard fans due to business decisions leaves me worried for the worst.

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E3 2019

Ubisoft’s E3 Showing Was All Hype, No Bite

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Ubisoft E3 Conference - Gods & Monsters, Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Ubisoft’s E3 2019 press conference featured some anticipated announcements and a few surprise ones. With the odd hidden gem lost in a sea of generic announcements, the conference by Ubisoft felt like a commercial that one is forced to view between episodes of their favorite TV show. The unfortunate leaks that surfaced mere days ago left a notable stain on Ubisoft’s presentation and overall appeal. The decision to open with Watch Dogs: Legion was a smart one since everyone knew it was coming though the homeruns became few and far between after that.

With both the announcement and extensive gameplay footage of Watch Dogs: Legion, Ubisoft seemed as though it was gearing up for a “headbanger” of a conference. The way the game was being presented for the first time would lead players to believe that Ubisoft had a stellar showcase to follow. After Microsoft’s slower and less hyped conference and Bethesda’s adequate attendance, I genuinely believed that Ubisoft would show them all up. Instead of a “headbanger” performance, audiences were treated to a rollercoaster of announcements.

Shortly after the conference commenced, audiences had the brakes instantly pumped on their excitement as Ubisoft took the time to advertise a new television show it is creating along with the producers of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. For the next few minutes, actor Rob McElhenney took the stage to describe the producers’ vision for a show that explores a comedic take on the politics surrounding a development studio and its egotistical creative director. Following this announcement, Ubisoft proceeded to show a trailer for the new Apple TV exclusive series. No game was announced for that duration.

Eventually, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint featured, with a surprise visitation by Jon Bernthal, who portrays the game’s villain. To promote Breakpoint, Bernthal briefly described how his past roles in the entertainment industry have influenced his character and how, as the villain, he encourages the players/Ghosts to hunt him down or die trying. Instead of following up with gameplay footage, Ubisoft announced a new addition to the Ghost Recon family, Delta Company. Not much was said about the new initiative, but it seems to be a collective forum for Breakpoint fans.

As odd as a forum announcement can be on an E3 stage, even more unsettling was the exaggerated hype from its developer, a sentiment that would sadly carry on throughout the remaining conference. Before concluding the Breakpoint showings, the developers were psyched to announce the beta on September 5. Unfortunately, since the beta is less than a month from the game’s launch, Ubisoft may be confusing the term with demo.

As a time-honored tradition at every Ubisoft E3 conference, Just Dance 2020 had an explosive presentation emphasizing the importance of Just Dance in people’s lives. With on-screen actors over-intensifying the joy of dance to everyday individuals, translating to the on-stage actors performing a symphony of limbs for everyone’s amusement, Just Dance 2020 is a reminder of how to oversell a product. Ubisoft continues to take a household party game and hype it into a hardcore intense experience year after year.

The hype-train continued on as viewers were introduced to Ubisoft’s premium PC subscription service, unsurprisingly titled Ubisoft+.  A sizzle reel followed, showcasing some of the titles that will be featured on the proprietary service. The success of Ubisoft’s subscription service remains to be seen in an age where all the cool kids are doing one. However Ubisoft’s turn at bat might strike out when considering its lineup. Almost all the titles shown in the subscription trailer are playable in another form of subscription such as Xbox Game Pass or have been free with a PlayStation Plus membership. Considering this subscription service is PC-only right now, it has the possibility of finding a foothold in the market, but Xbox Game Pass PC Games is another new contender with an established fanbase behind it.

Outside of the forced enthusiasm for new titles existed a trailer that had many considering the possibility of a Zombi sequel. Instead, audiences were treated to a surprise announcement from the Rainbow Six team with its new game: Rainbow Six Quarantine. Continuing the concept of 2018’s short-lived ‘Outbreak’ content drop for Rainbow Six Siege, Quarantine is a full-fledged title built on the foundation of that mode.

Finally, CEO Yves Guillemot insinuated a classic “one more thing” moment as a developer from Ubisoft Quebec came on stage to show a project that has been in development for four years: Gods & Monsters. This title will take advantage of player’s historical fantasies, with an emphasis on mythology being the primary storyteller. Potential aside, the announcement proved to be a poor way to abruptly end Ubisoft’s press conference as it contributed to a bait and switch for current Assassin’s Creed Odyssey fans. With the developer being from Ubisoft Quebec and mentioning historical storytelling and mythology in reference to Odyssey, many  audience members would have been anticipating an Assassin’s Creed announcement. The misguided excitement and anticipation only contribute to the continuing narrative this year that E3 2019 is lacking in content from previous years.  

Ubisoft is trying to position itself as being the publisher known for fun and variety in gaming. This mission statement is reaffirmed year after year by Guillemot, with this year being no different. Despite its desire, though, Ubisoft’s 2019 press conference contained an excessive amount of artificial hype. Instead of allowing the games to impress the audience, Ubisoft developers took upon themselves to do it instead. Before and after every trailer shown was a developer explaining to the audience how hyped they should be, rather than allowing the footage to do its job. An obvious takeaway from Ubisoft’s 2019 conference is its reinforcement of fun with others. Almost every project shown featured co-op in some way, further emphasizing Guillemot’s expression of inclusivity. Just a shame that his encouragement towards gamer empowerment and expression was contrast to extensive cringe-worthy corporate hype.  

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