Square Enix announced this week (after terrible market value news last week) that it has shipped 7 million Final Fantasy VII: Remake/Intergrade copies for PS4, PS5 and PC. The number also includes digital sales. This are hopeful news for a company that lost close to $2 billion in market value over the last few months.
FFVII: Remake’s Numbers in Context
Seven's the magic number.
— FINAL FANTASY VII (@finalfantasyvii) September 14, 2023
They are good, but not necessarily great, and a far cry from the success of the original title on the PlayStation 1. For comparison’s sake, both The Last of Us: Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima, launched within the same window as Final Fantasy VII: Remake did in 2020. In fact, FFVII: Remake launched weeks earlier than the aforementioned titles.
Despite much controversy from a loud group of gamers, The Last of Us: Part II has moved at least 10 million units as of June 2022, so that number could possibly be higher now. Equally, new IP, Ghost of Tsushima sold 9.73 million units by July 2022. Both outsold Final Fantasy VII: Remake by millions of units despite being confined to a single system (PS4) though GoT got a PS5 upgraded version in 2021.
The original Final Fantasy VII sold 10 million units within 3 years on the PS1 alone. It is the #2 greatest selling game for the system behind Gran Turismo, and Final Fantasy VIII came in at #4 with 8.6 million units sold. Clearly, at the time, Final Fantasy was one of the primordial reasons to own a PlayStation platform…the series has lost some of its influence on consumers since then.
By contrast, Final Fantasy VII: Remake did not make the PS4 top ten in sales, and its numbers are far inferior the top selling game on the system (Marvel’s Spider Man with 20 million copies sold). Consumers are likelier to buy a PlayStation 5 today for Spiderman, God of War, and The Last of Us, than they are for Final Fantasy.
The series fares better on PS5, coming at #2 behind Elden Ring, but the list on that system does not take into account cross generation games like Ragnarok, and Forbidden West. In the end, Spider-Man 2 is expected to blow the sales of every exclusive that came before it for Sony’s newest machine.
So, What Happened to Final Fantasy VII’s Market Power?
Time, Square Enix’s consistently lowering the standards of quality for the series over the last decade and a half (though I thought FFXVI was pretty good), and perhaps, FF fans just got tired of the constant milking of the “Final Fantasy VII” brand.
Final Fantasy VII: Remake might have longer legs than most might think because it is a part of an “episodic saga”. If the upcoming Rebirth is a hit, many who passed on the first game might go back to nab a copy of it to follow the story from the beginning. Still, the “episodic” nature of this “Remake” project is problematic in itself. I have read many fans claiming that they won’t dive into the game until all episodes are released.
The entire thing seemed – conceptually speaking – as a money grabbing scheme. In my mind, the following was Square Enix’s line of thinking when splitting what was once a complete story into – what I assume will be – three Episodes: Why charge our fans $59.99 once? When we can charge them $69.99 three times?
Of course, upon further reflection, and hindsight being 20/20; Final Fantasy VII: Remake is not a “Remake” per se, but a sequel. Within that context, paying for three episodes does not seem as such a bad a thing.
The New Trailer Further Distances Itself from the Original Cannon
The fact that Zack Fair presumably lives…in some weird timeline (how many timelines are we up to now? 3? 4? Infinite?) completely throws a curveball at the already changed version of the original plot featured in Remake. Square Enix has gone full Kingdom Hearts and destroyed any sense of logical reasoning within Final Fantasy VII’s plot line. So, at this point, I actually expect Aerith to live at the conclusion of Rebirth’s storyline at the City of Ancients.
However irrational Final Fantasy VII: Remake was, and Rebirth will be, this – the sequel nature of the plot – is actually not the end of the world, as jaded old FFVII lovers, such as myself, can experience a fresh completely off the rails fan fiction take on this saga in the form of a AAA video gaming experience.
The idea of Rebirth might mean that Aerith does die again, but is brought back some how, or maybe it is Zack living on another timeline who saves our damsel in distress. Who knows? Maybe Sora, Donald, and Goofy make a cameo with a timeless assist.
Still, despite all of my ramblings, I look forwards to another modern take of this world powered by Unreal 4’s visuals, and the game’s iconic, but now orchestrated soundtrack.
Can Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth Save Square Enix?
Well, that heading is a bit over dramatic. On the short term, Square Enix doesn’t need saving, but the original FFVII did not only take Squaresoft to unprecedented commercial heights back in the 1990’s, but it also brought the JRPG genre into the forefront. Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth will likely not accomplish the former, and much less the latter feat in 2024, but it can help Square Enix start 2024 with the right footing.
Judging by the trailer, FFVII:Rebirth seems to be large and a bit more “open” than Remake was, and certainly, a much more enticing experience than FFXVI’s world has been when it comes to exploration. Given Remake’s sales numbers, I would expect Rebirth to do at least as well.
If Square Enix truly wants to break that “10 million” mark, it might have to ditch ‘exclusivity’, and turn to Xbox and its ecosystem. Final Fantasy VII: Remake would have hit 9-10 million units by now if it was available on Microsoft’s machine. Perhaps, Sony’s exclusivity isn’t the best thing for the franchise’s future.
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