The battle between fans of the PlayStation and the Xbox has been fiercely fought online for years now, with supporters of both sides claiming that their preferred machine has the best games and the best performance. We’ve always tried to stay neutral on the matter – after all, why have one machine when you can have both, and play all the games? Nevertheless, it now seems that those who prefer the Sony machine will have one more thing to boast about as the Xbox One and PS4 near the end of their shelf lives. Final Fantasy VII will not be appearing on the Microsoft console.
After months of what have appeared to be mixed messages regarding the potential availability of the highly anticipated remake, Square Enix has finally confirmed that the game will be a PlayStation 4 exclusive. To add insult to injury, Square Enix’s statement has been worded in a way that suggests that there were never plans to release the game for any platform other than the PlayStation, ending bluntly with the line ‘we have no plans for other platforms.’
Although the original Final Fantasy VII was a PlayStation exclusive, there was no such thing as the Xbox when the game was released. Microsoft had yet to venture into creating gaming consoles, and the chief rivals to the Sony device were manufactured by Nintendo and Sega. That led some to hope that Xbox players would be able to get in on the action; a hope that was seemingly encouraged by official Xbox channels. Before E3 this year, Gamestop was listing Final Fantasy VII as ‘coming soon’ to the Xbox. The official German Xbox Facebook account also listed the title among their forthcoming games as recently as the first week in July, but have since taken the post down and apologized for what they say was an ‘error.’
The Long Wait
The release date for the revised and updated version of the classic game has now been confirmed as March 3rd, 2020, which will be almost a full five years since it was announced. The long delay has led to rumors of difficulties with the project, and prompted frustration from some gamers who had become bored with waiting. It’s unclear why Square Enix has faced such difficulty with putting together a new take on the much-loved format when they’ve proved capable of releasing brand new Final Fantasy games within that period.
Despite their insistence that they never had plans to release the game anywhere other than onto the PlayStation, there’s some evidence that there’s been a change in their intentions at some point. If we go back to their original announcement of the game – way back at E3 2015 – the party line at the time was that the game would be coming to the PlayStation’ first,’ which clearly implied it might go elsewhere later on. That, along with the fact that it found its way onto official Xbox release schedules, might indicate that the developer had difficulty making alternate versions, and decided to abandon them.
A subtle change in the way that Final Fantasy VII is being advertised on the UK Playstation store suggests that there’s been an alteration, too. Players looking to pre-order the game have noted that there is now a logo reading ‘PlayStation Exclusive’ next to the game, which was never there in the past.
Reimagining A Classic
Even with all the delay and the disappointment of Xbox and PC gamers about the game’s lack of availability on their preferred platforms, the remade Final Fantasy VII is almost sure to be a huge hit when it eventually sees the light of day. If you weren’t there in the mid-1990s when the original game was released for the PlayStation 1, it’s hard to describe how big an impact it had on players at the time. It was the boldest and most ambitious game ever released for the console; so big that it couldn’t fit onto a single CD.
Before Final Fantasy VII was released, the gaming genre it represents was thought to be the preserve of only the nerdiest of players. Gamers who used their PlayStations to play shoot ’em ups like Time Crisis or wild platform games like Crash Bandicoot were thought to have no interest with the more gentle turn-based gameplay of a Final Fantasy title. As it turned out, they did. A combination of a compelling story and (for the time) cutting edge graphics attracted millions of players, and turned what had once been a niche series of games into a major global brand.
The influence of Final Fantasy VII over other games in the fantasy genre – and even subsequent Final Fantasy games – has been immense. The success of the game led to anime and movies. You can also feel its influence at the casino, where the popular online slots games like Fluffy Favourites Slot or Wild Worlds contains a bonus feature which involves players battling monsters in a way that will be very familiar to Final Fantasy VII veterans. When the functionality of a humble video game can lead to innovations in online slots some twenty years after its release, you know it made big waves when it came out. Unlike all those online slots players, though, it doesn’t appear that Square Enix will be taking a gamble by going outside their comfort zone and letting anyone other than PlayStation players in on the fun this time around.
By the time March 2020 rolls around, it’s likely that the Sony vs. Microsoft debate will almost be at an end. With Apple Arcade and Google Stadia both slated to be released either by or very close to them, the gaming giants will be faced with new competition in a way that they haven’t had to worry about for a generation. How will they deal with it? Who will blink first by releasing their latest creation to the market in an attempt to counter the new technology – and will new consoles even hold the attention of the public in what looks like a new era of streaming games instead of owning them? We can’t say for sure, and nor can anybody else. All we can be certain of is that as we head into the 2020s, it looks like being the most significant decade of change for video gaming in the past thirty years.
To read more on topics like this, check out the gaming category.