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Thursday, June 20, 2024

I can’t wait to install one million gigabytes worth of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth months after everyone else gets to play it

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“Even after everything we’ve done to it, it’s still going strong,” Aerith Gainsborough muses on seeing Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth‘s open world in its debut trailer from the Summer Game Fest.

“It may look that way,” strange fire dog Red 13 cautions her, “But in reality, it’s just barely hanging on.” These two could just as easily be talking about me here, especially when it comes to the way Square Enix treats its fans on PC.

Before I get into a real lather about how annoyed this all makes me, I have to clarify I wouldn’t be so cheesed off if the games weren’t so good. Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, the second entry in the alleged trilogy-length remake of the PSone classic, looks amazing. I was wondering if the far-flung locations of Gaia could possibly match the cool factor of dieselpunk metropolis Midgar when blown up with modern rendering techniques, but these vistas are enticing. I also can’t wait to see how the remake trilogy’s NieR-like alternate continuity plays out.

And I’ll likely get to do that sometime in 2025 if I’m lucky. “AVAILABLE. EARLY 2024. On two discs. PS5,” the trailer proudly declares at the end. Like Michael Bluth opening a brown paper bag with “dead dove, do not eat!” scribbled on it, I don’t know what I expected.

The technological barriers between PC and console are lower than ever, and Squeenix isn’t owned by Sony or anything, but like clockwork, the publisher’s premium JRPGs arrive first on PlayStation, then six months to a year later on PC. Slightly stepped-on too, with a funky options menu and a shader comp stutter that never seems to go away.

And that “on two discs” line⁠—for a PS5 player, it’s a promise, a throwback to the days of Squaresoft leaving Nintendo for Sony so they could release some positively massive JRPGs on an ungodly number of CD ROMs. “Our JRPG is so yuge, it doesn’t even fit on a single disc,” Square Enix seems to be boasting. As a PC player, it sounds like a threat. I’m staring down the barrel of triple digit gigs of glistening textures getting squeezed onto my hard drive by my favorite local monopoly ISP, Comcast. I don’t get games on discs anymore, somebody decided I’m not allowed to.

And I don’t think it’s gonna get better any time soon. God knows I’ll still pay full price for the thing and, while Square Enix seems set to replace NFT-loving president Yosuke Matsuda in an upcoming shareholder’s meeting, the company’s chosen replacement, Takashi Kiryu, seems to be another crypto guy. Square, buddy, the Web3 revolution ain’t walking through that door, and you’ve got a devoted fanbase of PC players willing to debase themselves for Final Fantasy⁠ here, now—why not just let them play the games?

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