Final Fantasy 7 – Remake or not to remake?

Whenever you bring up discussions about which Final Fantasy game is the best or what kind of game in this franchise you would like to see next the topic of a FF7 remake is just around the corner. The question to me is: do we really need a FF7 remake? My short answer is no but let us explore why I believe a remake is not so good of an idea and also very unlikely.

FF7 was the game that got me hooked up not only to JRPGs but also to FF itself. I bought a new PC just so I can play it (PS1 was not available to me). I love it still today. It was back then the best RPG and a masterpiece of its time. Together with FF6 it is widely regarded as the best FF game and one of the best RPGs of all time. This is quite an achievement. Many people connect memories and emotions with this game just like me. It is natural that we hold dear to those.

The emotional issue. Almost all who played the game before have strong connections to it. With a remake we hope to relive some of those from the past. We want to explore and feel it again. This is impossible to begin with. Back then when you played it you had your first time experience with it. You cannot copy this experience or the emotions you felt. It would not be the same, ultimately a remake would feel different. You would even risk of damaging those important memories with a remake that does and cannot fulfil your expectations and related emotions.

The franchise problem. I consider FF12 to be the last truly great game. FF13 was absolutely horrible and pushed far away from the roots of the franchise. FF games always made experiments with changes, exploring new alternatives and trying to change the way of already known basics. But the moment the franchise got struck with what I call the disease of sequelitis the quality of those games gradually decreased. FF10-2 was more side mission than actual game, FF13 abandoned almost all roots of the franchise and FF13-2 was an attempt of making this good again but ultimately screwed up with an open ending and slapping a third game onto the fans. The numerous and often weak spin-offs in this franchise have further decreased  the franchises strength. What we need is a return to the roots which are what made this franchise as strong as it was to begin with. The current direction of the games is going further away from it. The once well crafted and protected Final Fantasy is becoming a cash machine. In the long run this will drive the real fans away, decreasing the revenue from the franchise and turning it into just another generic “based on sequels” franchise that lives on short revenue from quick merchandise. This franchise does not need a remake but a return to the roots to show old and new players alike why this was once the king of role-playing games. This crown is long lost now and unfortunately I see no bright future for this franchise ahead.

The investment question. Developing a remake costs still a substantial amount of money (investment). On the example of FF10 we can see it is possible. So why not for FF7? The reason is the expected return of investment. Simply handing out a remake does not make money. Timing and content must be wisely chosen. Now you can say that the remake of FF7 is often requested by fans but how many fans and those who are not would actually buy it? I actually believe 10 is a much better choice because of its content and tone of the game. The chances that this remake will be bought even by those who did not play the original but are RPG fans is quite high. Therefore I believe FF7 could not make a big enough ROI to justify the investment.

The development dilemma. Developing a remake of a game based on PS2 is technically supposed to be slightly easier compared to the PS1 architecture. Especially since you need to port it to another platform like the PS3 which got a unique architecture. This means more work and more costs.

The legal aspect. Square as it exists today is not the same as it was back when FF7 was made. Some rights over assets, names and so on are maybe no longer in clear possession of the changed company or were never protected to begin with. It would require extensive checks by the legal department to ensure everything is still save, trademarks and copyrights are okay and all assets and their recreation are protected.

The history channel effect. FF7 is one of the most important games in the series and still generates huge revenue trough merchandise. The chances for failure of such a project in either execution or content is too high. It could severally damage the reputation of FF7, its merchandise revenue and alienate the core fan base. The long time damage this could cause to the franchise (which already took a dive) and the direct IP that is FF7 as well as the company itself is too big and too high.

Combining all those factors is to me a strong indicator that it is in the best interests for the company and its fans to stay away from a remake.


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