Given that the original announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake came on Sony’s stage way back at E3 2015, the fact that the game has ties to PlayStation platforms (just like the original) should come as little surprise. What is somewhat surprising, though, is that communication from Square Enix has been so lacking regarding FFVIIR’s ‘timed exclusive’ nature, despite several prime opportunities to set the record straight. Following Final Fantasy VII Remake’s PS4 release on April 10th, 2020, the lack of any official confirmation of the exclusivity time frame — unlike other similar deals that have sprung up since, such as Deathloop (12 months) and Forspoken (24 months) — left fans hoping to see the remake on other systems nothing to do but speculate over when, or indeed if, when the exclusivity period might end.
A little over a year later, we came as close as we have gotten to having a proper time frame laid out, with the enhanced PS5 version of FFVIIR, subtitled Intergrade and bringing both performance upgrades and new content for PS5, arriving on June 10th, 2021 alongside news that Intergrade wouldn’t appear on any other systems for “at least six months.” Sure enough, just over six months passed before the game launched on PC on December 16th — as an Epic Games Store exclusive, just in case this whole situation wasn’t already enough of a mess — but between the Epic exclusivity and the port being, by all accounts, rather poorly optimised, Remake seemed to launch on PC with a Fire rather than a Firaga. Since then, we’ve heard nothing at all about further ports, with multiple exclusivity windows both assumed and known having come and gone… so what is going on here? Well, there are several possibilities, but before we dive into them, we thought it’d be interesting to take to Twitter with a poll, and the results so far have shown a surprisingly even spread across dreamers, believers, naysayers, and more.
Let’s break down some of the possible situations here, and see just how likely we think they might be…
Final Fantasy VII Remake was never planned for Xbox
The most obvious reason why two years have passed without so much as a mention of an Xbox release for FFVIIR could just be as simple as the game having never been scheduled for an Xbox version in the first place. In such instances, though, messaging around exclusivity is usually much clearer, especially in cases where Sony has directly contributed development funding (Street Fighter V, Demon’s Souls). The fact is that we’re two years on now and still nobody has properly ruled out an Xbox release, so I feel as though it’s pretty unlikely that Final Fantasy VII Remake was ever intended to be a full PlayStation exclusive — Sony would have been shouting it from the rooftops if that were the case. Instead, I feel what is more likely is…
Other platforms were planned for Final Fantasy VII Remake, but plans changed
It’s been a tumultuous few years and with so many moving parts on the production line, gaming has been hit especially hard by the ongoing global situation. We’ve seen countless delays and revised plans, so there’s a pretty good chance that FFVIIR would already be on Xbox in an alternate timeline not wracked by a pandemic, component shortages, and conflict. Not only that, but there have been numerous developments closer to home for the industry’s major players, with huge sums of money changing hands in a number of massive deals that would naturally have knock-on effects on any other arrangements that were already in place.
It could be, for instance, that Sony initially only intended to pay for a relatively short exclusivity window, but felt its hand was forced to extend the deal in light of Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda and later Activision Blizzard. Or it could be the other way around — perhaps the exclusivity window has come and gone, but either Square Enix itself isn’t too fussed about bringing the game to Xbox late, or MS has had its hands full with those massive deals and hasn’t had time to properly court Square and get FFVIIR on Xbox. All involved parties have been playing their Triple Triad cards so close to their chests with this one that they’re practically in their lungs, so it’s impossible to know for sure what the score is, though a timed exclusivity window long enough to outlast the buzz surrounding a game will effectively turn it into a de facto exclusive if either platform holder or publisher can’t see much value in a late arrival. Given the lack of clear communication, this situation seems fairly likely to me, although even the changing gaming landscape doesn’t write off a release down the line, of course.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 has become the priority
This possibility ties into the previous one rather well, so it feels likely the natural topic to cover next. Final Fantasy VII Remake was years in the making, yet still only really covers the events of the first disc of the original three-disc PS1 game. Square Enix has made it clear it wants to retell the whole story so one or more follow-ups will be in the works, yet even with an engine and many character and enemy models done, breaking free of the walls of Midgar and into FFVII’s much wider world would be a massive undertaking even in a vacuum, let alone with the ongoing issues in the real world. It’s already going to be incredibly hard to avoid having this full saga straddle three console generations at this rate, so there’s a decent chance that Square is focusing its resources on the second game rather than ports of the first — a theory backed up somewhat by the sketchy nature of the PC release. Some believe that Square could be waiting on the next part (or even when the whole thing is done) before putting the first elsewhere, but it feels like that would be far too long to wait.
Once again, a change in priorities like this wouldn’t rule out a belated port of the original to other platforms at some point, though it would go some way towards explaining the lengthy delay. As such, I do think it’s likely that this is at very least a contributing factor to this hard-to-read situation — we’ve often heard Square Enix complain about games underperforming in their financial reports, from Tomb Raider to Avengers, so protracted development cycles aren’t going to help in that regard when the studio’s expectations seem rather lofty. On that note, I can’t see FFVIIR doing especially well on Xbox after all this time with a standard release, which might be another reason for the lack of communication — Xbox Game Pass gave Outriders a fighting chance previously, and got a lot more eyes on games like Guardians of the Galaxy, so maybe Square is just patiently waiting for MS to write it a cheque to put Remake on the service instead of potentially sending a two-year-old game out to die on new systems.
Final Fantasy VII Remake may still come to Xbox eventually
It’s been one hell of a waiting game already, but there’s nothing stopping Final Fantasy VII Remake from still coming to Xbox… though you do have to imagine it’d need to be sooner rather than later at this point in order to be viable. A surprise Game Pass arrival seems like the most likely way for this to happen now, and there’s clear precedent there — just about every major Final Fantasy game has come through the service at this point, while Square has previously arranged day-one drops (Outriders, Dragon Quest XI S) as well as plenty of latecomers to raise awareness (Hitman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Nier Automata, and more, not to mention the entire FF back catalogue) so there’s clearly a strong relationship there. As such, I would think it somewhat unlikely that Square would do a regular release of FFVIIR so long after the Highwind has sailed, but can certainly see it coming as a surprise Game Pass addition being somewhat likely if it ever does get the chance to break free of its weird exclusivity.
But what of other platforms? Well, the Kingdom Hearts games have been exclusive to the Epic Games Store for a year at this point, with a similar lack of communication as with FFVIIR about the possibility of other launchers such as Steam — it does feel like there’s some kind of deal in place there to have Square’s big games only on Epic’s store on PC, especially with the House of Unreal seemingly being no stranger to shelling out to keep games off Valve’s launcher. And Switch? Well, obviously FFVII Remake would be too much of a beast to run natively on Nintendo’s console, but with the rise of cloud streaming versions of games that would be beyond the technological capabilities of the system (including, once again, Square’s own Kingdom Hearts series), it’d certainly be possible to put the remake out that way should Square be interested in making it a full multiformat release. Or Square could make each chapter an exclusive on a different system to really set the Cait Sith among the chocobos, but that doesn’t sound particularly sensible or realistic…
Could Final Fantasy’s 35th anniversary hold the answer?
The Final Fantasy series is set to celebrate its 35th anniversary in December, with Square Enix launching an anniversary site last month to help keep fans up to speed with planned and ongoing celebrations. It boasts that this year, the team “will be bringing you many exciting
new ways to enjoy the worlds of Final Fantasy,” leading to some speculation that the second part of FFVII Remake will get its reveal some time this year, and Square using Kingdom Hearts’ 20th anniversary to announce Kingdom Hearts 4 adding fuel to that fire. The timing feels right for a first look at the second chapter, and what better way to get the hype train rolling out of Midgar than by getting even more eyes on the first part by finally bringing it to other platforms?
Frustratingly, though, this likely won’t be the last time we do this dance with Square Enix. The freshly-announced Kingdom Hearts 4 hasn’t even been given target platforms yet, so we’ve got another wait on our hands just to find out where the Gummi Ship will be landing in the first place. Forspoken seems a little bit easier, given that the small print in promo material already mentions a two-year PS exclusivity period, though we’ll most likely end up where we are now with FFVIIR when that expires. Then there’s the next mainline FF, Final Fantasy XVI. A confusing reveal didn’t do us many favours in deciphering where it would be launching, with later clarifications leading us to believe it will be a full PS5 exclusive for six months, then a console exclusive for another six months (akin to Intergrade, strongly suggesting the PC release that the original trailer mentioned by mistake), so it could in theory come to Xbox and other systems after its first year, although we fully expect to be kept guessing.
Even if Final Fantasy VII Remake doesn’t come to Xbox, you’re not missing much
As a huge Final Fantasy fan and someone who was introduced to what would become one of their favourite series by the original FFVII, it pains me to say this, but I don’t think Final Fantasy VII Remake is a particularly good game. Like many others, I was giddy with excitement to see a gorgeous HD Midgar at that insane E3 show back in 2015, and the reveals that followed were even more impressive. But when I finally got my hands on the game, something about it just felt off. There’s spectacle to the combat, sure, but the system feels confused — a weird hybrid of action and turn-based with few of the benefits of either pure system, and with both sides outperformed by other games in the series previously. For all its faults, particularly early on, FFXV felt like a much more accomplished action game, with FFVII Remake seemingly too afraid to fully leave behind its original systems, apparently oblivious to the fact that even the slightest deviation from the classic combat would already be a step too far for those who just wanted to play a shiny new version of a childhood favourite. That’s not what I wanted, for what it’s worth — I’m not convinced of the value of a full ground-up remake that plays exactly the same as it did 25 years ago — but it just ended up as a halfway house that would have benefitted greatly from committing to the bit, one way or the other.
While there’s a certain novelty to seeing parts of Midgar we never saw in the original (or other media that followed), it rapidly wears off as it becomes clear there’s a reason we didn’t get to see it in the first place. Much of the game ends up a drab stroll through generic corridors as Square looks to pad out one disc’s worth of content (as well as a fair bit of new stuff, in fairness, what with the weird extra twists and turns the story decides to take) to feel like a full game. In doing so, the pacing feels incredibly awkward a lot of the time and much of the intensity of the crisis in Midgar is lost as a result. It’s the gaming equivalent of the Hobbit movie trilogy — source material torn into three pieces for financial rather than artistic reasons, and with the end product suffering as a result. I still need to go back and try Intergrade to see whether the turn-based mode that was added feels any better for me (although it’s only available on Normal, which was already way too easy). But in its basic form, as undeniably pretty as it was in places, FFVII Remake stands as one of my biggest gaming disappointments in recent years, and you’re unlikely to find many folks who stan the series harder than I. Still, I’d love to see it eventually come to Xbox so those of you who haven’t had the chance can finally make up your own minds… all I’m saying is that I’d recommend tempering expectations, as I genuinely don’t see the masterpiece that others apparently do when looking at it.
With all that out of the way, as a fun little experiment, let’s run that same poll we’ve got going on Twitter here, so we can see how opinions differ on the subject between site and socials. We’d love to hear your thoughts and reasoning down in the comments, but let’s try to keep things civil and avoid childish console war chatter that adds nothing to the conversation, yeah? Cheers, kupo!
No, not any more.
No, and it never was.
We’ve had 94 responses.