Well, it’s finally here. After three plus years of waiting, Square Enix has finally released the much-anticipated re-remake of Final Fantasy VII, this time with the added bonus of multiple games and movies within the entire FF7 compilation. When it was initially announced, fans around the world, myself included, were confused about the final makeup of the game, its characters, and its monetization. Now that it’s here, we can now see what the vision is for the title, and it’s scary.
Before we get started, let me note that Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis itself is surprisingly fun to play. The gameplay is fast-paced and intuitive, and the animations are smooth and varied. The story sticks to the major beats of the original games, and the new stories are pretty well done overall. Customization is plentiful, and the options are pretty integral to the gameplay, so whether you succeed or fail is heavily tied to your build.
Square Enix Has Entered the Circle of Life
It’s a shame to see what Square Enix is trying to do with its beloved franchise. For Final Fantasy in particular, it looks like they’re falling into the same trap that Capcom did with the Resident Evil series around a decade ago. To go over it briefly, Capcom wanted to appeal to the FPS crowd, which was popular at the time, primarily thanks to the rise of Call of Duty. In order to compete, they decided to turn the upcoming Resident Evil games into a bunch of Call of Duty knockoffs, which ended up angering a lot of fans.
To tie it all back in with the topic, earlier in the lifespan of Final Fantasy VII Remake, the business suits at Square Enix thought it would be a great idea to expand the audience by introducing a “Battle Royale”-type spinoff. This spinoff, titled FFVII: The First Soldier, failed miserably and died within a year of its launch. Ironically, the game has been remade into a part of Ever Crisis, and weirdly, it’s kind of the main storyline of the game if you take into account the amount of effort it takes to complete all of the current story episodes. Needless to say, it was a pivot from the initial failure of the original battle royale incarnation.
So What About the Gacha?
Everything said thus far ties into the current mindset of how the gacha and overall monetization work. As the topic implies, the gacha in the game is pretty predatory in nature. Everything is designed to get you to invest in the product. While I do enjoy the gameplay aspect of the game, it’s painfully obvious that things were designed a certain way in order to hook you into the ecosystem and encourage you to spend more once you hit a wall.
Currently, the game has gacha shops for weapons and outfits and battle passes with various rewards, mostly pertaining to crafting. It takes one ticket, or one hundred crystals, to pull from these pools, but of course, the crystals can be substituted by a real-money-only counterpart called red crystals. Red crystals have their own exclusive gacha that guarantees five-star weapons, and once again, these can only be obtained with real money. One extra thing that they added was the stamp card, which “rewards” you with extra loot and ingredients by giving you stamps at random after you spend a certain amount of currency.
It took me a while to realize it, admittedly, but the plan became painfully obvious after I reached the final chapter of the “First Soldier” story. Everything is monetized, and I mean everything, from progress to crafting to stats on outfits as well as the weapons. It’s all over the place, and although they’re being very generous at the moment, everyone can clearly see what the future holds once the honeymoon is over. It’s not very smart to lock progress behind gambling, and Square Enix will find this out as soon as they pull back on the rewards.
I foresee that in the future, players will only come back to do events, and instead of spending money on gachas, they’ll wait for possible giveaways and milestones. Only the whales will be able to complete the hardest challenges, and players will quickly run out of things to do. The haves and have-nots will not have a problem until they realize how much time they spend keeping up with FOTM. For a game with this much potential, that would be tragic and wasteful of what looks like a genuine effort.
Let’s hope that the team sees the cracks early and makes the necessary changes quickly. The game has a lot of potential to make money, but the monetization has to be a bit more fair due to the randomization that a gacha system introduces. There could be a point where the playerbase is pulling all three and four stars, and eventually, yeah, they’ll level up the weapons, but that’s not taking into account the different strengths and weaknesses of each option. It just doesn’t work with these types of games, and the sooner someone realizes it, the better off this sub-genre will be.