April’s game release schedule just got a whole lot more crowded, after Square Enix’s Final Fantasy 7 Remake delay pushed the game into the same release month as CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. This potential clash of highly anticipated video game releases is made more contentious by the fact that both are RPGs with cyberpunk settings, meaning comparisons will undoubtedly be drawn between the two.
Square Enix announced the Final Fantasy 7 Remake delay this morning, moving the game from its previous early-March release date to a mid-April one. Square Enix similarly delayed Marvel’s Avengers from May to September, effectively restructuring the company’s entire 2020 release schedule.
According to Square Enix, the Final Fantasy release date change was made in an effort to ensure the game is as polished as possible upon release. In changing its own release schedule, though, Square Enix also made a big impact on the 2020 calendar for game releases as a whole, shifting the balance of big-name game releases throughout the year.
The most notable element of this shift centers around Cyberpunk, as the Final Fantasy delay had an unfortunate side effect: Two of the most hyped games of 2020 now have release dates within a week of each other.
Previously, Final Fantasy would have needed to compete with Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Nioh 2, and a few other titles releasing in March. While all of these games would certainly have put up a fight, none of them are quite as big as Cyberpunk 2077, and none of them have the potential to compete with Final Fantasy 7 so directly.
RPG or JRPG?
Which game sells better will most likely be determined not only by its quality and its publisher’s marketing budget but by the tastes of today’s gaming public. Despite Final Fantasy 7′s reputation as one of the greatest JRPGs of all time, it may have been easy to dismiss if Square Enix hadn’t taken steps to modernize its combat and storytelling for the remake.
One could argue that the instant gratification-accustomed gamers of today are likely less inclined to want to spend time grinding through a lengthy, turn-based JRPG. But, as far as is possible to tell from pre-release information, the developer appears to have done just that, creating a remake that has everything fans could have asked for.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake vs. Cyberpunk 2077
Final Fantasy 7 may already be positioned for success as a remake of an already stellar game, but Cyberpunk 2077 is not to be underestimated. It’s part of a new gaming IP — set in the world of an established tabletop roleplaying game — but it has a similar amount of hype thanks to its creator’s reputation.
Since the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt Red has earned a name for itself as a pro-consumer dev, creating great post-launch support for The Witcher 3 and including a “thank you” note with every copy of the game. The game itself was one of the generation’s greatest, too, with Game Revolution’s readers naming it our Game of the Decade. All of this added up to make CD Projekt Red one of the industry’s most respected developers, and preview coverage shows Cyberpunk 2077 could be one of 2020’s best games.
Perhaps the most interesting element of this April match-up, though, is that both games still have plenty of unknown elements that could make or break their success. Several details about Cyberpunk seem, at least at face-value, primed to cause complaining among fans of The Witcher.
Cyberpunk might be shorter than The Witcher 3 and reportedly has a smaller map, which could lead to disappointment. CD Projekt Red has also had run-ins with controversy: both in-game depictions of trans people and the company’s tweets have caught criticism for being transphobic. These issues, and what some have called racist depictions of black characters in a gang called the “Animals,” have the potential to affect sales if not dealt with correctly in the final release.
The Final Fantasy 7 Remake could run into similar issues, as it will include a “modernized” version of the original game’s infamous cross-dressing scene. There’s also the fact that, despite being called simply “Final Fantasy 7 Remake,” the April 2020 release is really just “episode one” of a more drawn-out remake series, taking place entirely in the game’s Midgar-based opening section. The Final Fantasy 7 Remake box art doesn’t mention this fact, meaning some buyers may feel deceived when they discover it’s not a remake of the full 1997 original.
If none of these possible trip-ups come to fruition, then April’s biggest game is essentially a question of RPG or JRPG. With Netflix’s The Witcher recently bringing more players than ever to CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3, Cyberpunk 2077 does seem to have the potential advantage for now. Unless either game gets delayed again, we’ll be paying close attention to both at launch this April.