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Hurdles to a Possible Final Fantasy VII Remake
Posted on Saturday, March 1 2014 @ 15:53:54 PST

In a recent post discussing Yoshinori Kitase's thoughts on possibly remaking Final Fantasy VII an interesting discussion broke out about why they would not and what might get in their way. 

First, let me be up front about my personal position and say that a proper HD remake of the game not being made appears to practically be a fat stack of cash sitting on the table with Square just looking at it in bemusement not knowing what to do. If it's feasible and they haven't already gotten started on it, then they are foolish. However, it may not be feasible. Here are some reasons... 

1 - They have failed to produce a separate product which outdid Final Fantasy 7 financially. They have still never made a better-selling game, prior to or after their merger with Enix. Given that install bases are far larger now than they were in the fifth generation, that both stands as testament to how much they achieved with 7 and how much they've struggled to recapture that lightning in a bottle. In the West, at least, JRPGs have returned to being a niche interest. They don't move units like they used to. 7 might be one of a handful of titles with a sort of 'grandfather clause' in that it was the one practically everybody liked. The genre started to fall off from its perch toward the end of the sixth generation and is now, two generations later, a niche. 

2 - The project would be massive and expensive. No matter how they approached it, a fully-fledged remake would be one of the most expensive projects they've undertaken to date. 

3 - What will the success would actually mean for them in the long run? To get a sense of how dire the situation is, a possible research project may be in the offing—counting spinoffs, remakes, ports and direct sequels, Square Enix has made dozens of games since 1997 and published many more. None of them have made more money than 7 did after running behind schedule and over budget. Some of them cost more money to make. Seventeen years' worth of chances and they still cannot get out from under its shadow.

Even if they did a remake and it was great and made them shipping tankers full of cash they would still, in some eyes, be that company which peaked in 1997 and spent more than two decades trying to reiterate that success and the closest they ever got was chasing nostalgia for that past success. The problem for them would be figuring out where to go from there. Remakes of other past Final Fantasy titles wouldn't be the guaranteed printing-press success and a number of them would be money pits. New titles? They've tried it for two decades and while they haven't lost money they haven't exactly raked in the dough, either. Perhaps the company is prisoner to its own past success. 

Finally, and this may be the biggest hurdle of all, is the archives of the original assets. The assets for Final Fantasy VII were poorly archived and documented. A straight 'rez up' would be impossible without them so new assets would have to be created from scratch. As it happens the rendering process is rather on the expensive side so a full-service three-dimensional recreation of each location would actually be more practical. This leads to a further problem—the visuals in FF7's raytraced cinematics appear antiquated by modern standards. Games are throwing more detail on screen in real time than those cinematics had pre-rendered. Hell, Final Fantasy XII's cinematics don't look as good as some real time games. Standards have reached a point where playing 'catch up' would be a thorny and expensive problem.

[The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on February 17, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan]
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