In perhaps one of the finest examples of corporate greed in gaming (well, outside of everything Konami has been doing,) it was just revealed that the highly-anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake will not be shipped as a whole product, but instead in bite-sized chunks, because of course the most popular title in Square’s library needed to make more money than was already anticipated. If you’ll excuse the harsh tone, from a consumer standpoint, this news is absolutely wretched. This is perhaps the final boss of disgusting business practices in gaming, carving up something that was guaranteed to make a massive profit, because let’s face it, who wasn’t going to buy the Final Fantasy VII remake, and serving it up as a ‘more digestible’ experience to players in order to shill for those sweet, sweet Season Pass dollars.

Final Fantasy VII is one of the crown jewels of gaming, a title that has stood out in the hearts of gamers for decades, the very definition of a classic RPG title. I can’t think of a single gamer in my social circles that hasn’t at least recognized how groundbreaking the game was, even if they didn’t play it themselves. It remains a hallmark of the gaming world, next to Tomb Raider, Earthbound, and the rest, and people have been clamoring for years to have the fantastic sci-fi story and compelling characters brought to modern consoles in order to play one of their favorite gaming experiences with the graphical and musical enhancements that technology has brought us. It seemed like the time for celebration was nigh these past few days, as news of a remake finally broke past Square’s lips and was revealed to the world, with first impressions appearing almost exactly as people expected them to. The hype was real, and even as I sat at my computer at the press reveal I could feel the money in my wallet slowly creeping towards my computer screen, eager to feed the creation I had waited so long for.

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Then they messed it up. They messed up bad. In one fell swoop, Square has ruined a major portion of the hype with the announcement of this long-awaited remake becoming episodic content. The reasons are clear: profit. They knew they would make a lot of money off of Final Fantasy VII being released again, hell, it was a good amount of what the internet’s been talking about for the past two decades. There was no chance for failure, no chance for the money to not be made back. But it wasn’t enough, apparently. Projected sales be damned, they need to piggyback off of both the love of fans and the curiosity of newcomers alike.

Allow me to explain. If the game was released as a true-to-life remake, the same FFVII that we all know and love but given a beautiful coat of paint on top, the majority of gamers would still probably buy it. I’m not even really a Final Fantasy fan any more, especially considering the quality of some of the more recent entries in the series, but I would still have bought the remake on release day, no questions asked. The game was a huge part of my childhood, and I would have picked it up for nostalgia value alone, along with many others for the same reasons, I’d wager. Some curious young souls who didn’t have the chance to play it in the past would probably get it as well to see what all the fuss was about, but that would be a small minority of sales made. Episodic content is in a different league altogether, however.

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Episodic content makes it easier to advertise to those who aren’t willing to fully commit to the full $60 purchase most games entail. That small minority of purchasers who bought simply out of curiosity will now balloon into a large percentage of sales the game has. It may seem an intimidating prospect to some to jump into a purchase that you might not be interested in, no matter the scores it might receive in reviews, but hey, you can give it a ‘test drive’ for sixteen dollars and just buy the rest later if you like it. This means that plenty of gamers will probably buy a portion of a game that they might not enjoy, and while it might simply be a twenty dollar loss for them, Square will be sitting back and cackling as they turn all of your wasted twenties into sheer profit. This also presents an issue to those who will buy the inevitable Season Pass outright because they’re excited for the chance to play FFVII again, giving Square a hefty amount of money (likely comparable to the price of a full game) for something that’s already been shown Square isn’t willing to put in its full effort for. The first episode could turn out to be absolute garbage, but hey, you’re guaranteed to four or five months of the same because you already wasted your money on it!

Now, you might think I’m being presumptuous. The game could very well be great, even in episodic form, but the greed exhibited by Square here is absolutely unforgivable. They’re cashing in on the hype and the good faith of the fans to make a frankly unnecessary amount of money, while able to sit back and carve up content because they know full well you’ll buy it anyways. They want the gullible ones, the naive, to think of this move as a good thing, as a way to spread the word of the game to a new audience, while in actuality they’re looking to suck up your money in the absolute laziest way possible. You’re not being clever, Square, I see right through this move of yours, and I disapprove. As much as I love Final Fantasy VII, I won’t be taking part in this remake until you’ve proven that you care more about your customers than you do about their wallets. In the past few years, Square hasn’t exactly been the poster child of good companies, with many of their games incorporating rather poor DLC practices, but this is by far the worst move they’ve made yet. You’ve shot yourselves in the foot here, mates, and you’ve lost yourself a customer.

Source: Square Enix Press Center

  • I honestly don’t see how that’s a bad thing. The game’s scale is huge and to fit that all in one game would be ridiculous. If you don’t want don’t buy it or just wait till the full package is released.

    • Morgan Lewis

      To be honest, with the size of blu ray discs, they could EASILY fit the entire title onto one disc. Yes, I’m going to wait and see and reserve my final judgment, but honestly this is going to alienate so many fans. This was a day one purchase for me. Now, I’m on the fence and am taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

  • drghettoblaster

    Brilliant (and unfortunately seemingly semi-accurate) insult/illustration below. I hope many more people see this as there is much sad & disgusting truth here with regards to our industry today compared to generations past. PLEASE pass it on.
    http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2900/1531/original.jpg

    • It’s actually sad in a funny kind of way. Definitely unfortunate, and I mentioned this on social media, about how the industry has come to DLC, microtransactions, and episodes. 🙁

    • Jake3103

      We don’t even know they plan on charging full price just for one episode of the game, and then the same prices again for further episodes. It could be that the original episode will cost less tan $60, and then further episodes will also cost less, coming to a total of $60 over the whole thing. We just don’t know, everyone is just jumping to the worst case scenario. Also, games have been $60 now for decades, and yet the price of games development has increased exponentially with inflation. The reason why we are getting DLC and microtransactions is to make up the deficit as opposed to charing more for the initial product. Why is that a bad thing?

      • Hi Jake! First of all, thanks for stopping by Gamer Professionals to submit a comment! Hope to see you more often. While I get your point with rising development costs, DLC and microtransactions are bloating the industry and it’s allowing developers to rush their production and put out a title quickly, with the mentality of “we’ll fix it later.” It doesn’t sit right with me, or a lot of people on the staff here.

        • Jake3103

          Hi Brandon, I absolutely agree that companies are taking advantage of customers with DLC and microtransactions, but I also realise that the price of games has remained the same for the longest time and should probably be increased. Honestly, paying $60 for a game is already quite hard to justify for a lot of people, which is probably why they have left it as it is, but they still need to be able to make profit in order to justify making video games. The answer to their problems, thus far, has been DLC, and as much as I dislike microtransactions generally, they are not ALWAYS bad – It is how they implemented that makes them bad. How it was put into Metal Gear Solid V was bad because it affected the game, but micro transactions for purely cosmetic items seems to me to be an entirely harmless and clever way of getting money without having to charge everyone an extortionate upfront cost. I think it’s the same with DLC – a lot of people don’t care for the DLC and will leave it, but it’s there for those people who do want the extra stuff after the game. I think the issue arrives when games are released incomplete, as you said, and then charge extra for things which should have been in the game to begin with (such as the launch DLC for Mass Effect 3, off the top of my head). I’m not convinced that releasing a game episodic is necessarily a bad thing either, I mean we have no idea how they will be pricing it, or what the content will be like when it is released. I just feel like everyone is jumping to the “worst case scenario” simply because its Final Fantasy VII and everyone wants it, and also because this is not how we are used to having games delivered.

          I’m also not convinced by the line: “They’re cashing in on the hype and the good faith of the fans to make a frankly unnecessary amount of money”. First of all, yes, of course they are cashing in on the hype, that’s the whole point of the remake, we all want it, and Square want to make money, it’s a pretty healthy relationship in that regard! And second, since when is any amount of money that a company makes “unnecessary”? The whole point of companies is to make as much money as they can, and we wouldn’t even be getting this remake if it wasn’t both what the fans wanted, and for how much money it will make. I mean, we could use the same argument to bash charging $60 for Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed every year too. When you know up front that 10-25 million copies are going to be sold of your game then surely you don’t NEED to charge $60 for them either? But we’re okay with $60 because that’s the norm. It’s all perception, and there’s no unnecessary amount of money to be made by Square or anyone else; it’s a free market, and if they charge a certain amount and it sells then the customers are saying that they value that product at that price.

          Anyway I’m not trying to have a go, I really like the article generally, and I am thoroughly enjoying the site, so thank you for your welcome 🙂

      • Sebastian Fisher

        Thanks for reading through the article, Jake! I love having things like this talked about, because while I think a lot of decisions companies in the games industry make are poorly made, at least in the last few years, I like hearing what other people have to say on the topic.

        I’ll likely touch on the topic on microtransactions more in-depth in another editorial down the line, so for right now I’ll address your claim of trying to avoid thinking in terms of the “worst-case scenario.” My logic behind my anger is that the gaming industry has hardly ever made the consumer friendly choice, leaving many circumstances where something I perceived in an optimistic fashion blew up in my face and ended up being something worthy of outrage. My current outlook on announcements like this is to perceive things rather pessimistically until I see evidence otherwise, as I would rather announce my criticisms about a decision and be pleasantly surprised when proven wrong instead of look on the bright side all the time and have things turn out worse than I thought.

        With that in mind, I’ll happily make a follow-up article if Square pulls through with making this “multi-part” business work. If each portion of the remake is fairly priced and of greater than average length and quality, I will still be upset about the game not being sold as a finished product (as it should be,) but will look past it because of the quality. For now, the details they’ve revealed about the whole thing make them out to be rather shady, and whenever a developer isn’t crystal clear about things people will be sure to go up in arms about, it’s only fair to assume that they’re using their time to cover their tracks, in this case. I wouldn’t be surprised if the initial announcement of the episodic remake was simply testing the waters to see if there would be outrage at their original plan, and then changing the content of the episodes to counter the anger against them.

        Thanks for commenting here, by the way! It makes me tingly inside knowing people devote enough attention to my content on this site to give me their thoughts on my work. Hope to see you around the site more often!

  • Oh, no, I really do welcome the discussion, trust me. They’re fun, and they’re healthy ways to talk about things. Much better than dead silence. 😀 It’s definitely a deal of implementation, and when I see shit like Payday 2 how it essentially becomes pay to win, it’s a whole different beast.

    And heh, the episodic thing is just driving me nuts. I’m just not fond of the concept, especially with Final Fantasy VII where I (personally) was hoping for a complete collection at launch, as it should be. And yep, the $60 thing is just insane, coupled with season passes (prime example Star Wars Battlefront) and it’s just ridiculous at this point. Yet… people will gobble this up anyways, because that’s the way the cookie crumbles. 🙁

    Keep going, hehe! We’ve plenty to offer, and we’ll be ramping up in 2016 as we become more well-known, that’s a promise.

    • Jake3103

      Yes I agree, as soon as micro transactions affect the balance of the game, they have been incorrectly implemented. And the problem with Star Wars Battlefront is that the base game is so limited that it doesn’t feel like a full game, so the DLC feels like a cash grab. And I absolutely see your point about Final Fantasy VII being episodic; honestly, it’s not how I want it to be either, but I guess out of sheer love and hope, plus a little side of simple delight that it’s being made AT ALL, I am willing to wait and see what happens, because it may just end up being fantastic, and it’s still early days. 🙂