Thursday, February 20, 2014

Square-Enix wants to bring more Final Fantasy games to PC

Square-Enix is no stranger to releasing older games on newer consoles. Over the years, they have released many collections, digital downloads, HD remasters, as well as full remakes. When it comes to their popular games, Square-Enix is always sure to make them available to the public. As times move on, so do they, and now this trend will be slowly making its way into the PC market.

In recent years, Square has released most of their Final Fantasy games in some digital form. As of right now, on iOS devices most of the classic Final Fantasy games can be played, with some of the newer releases as well; such as the 3D version of the newer Final Fantasy IV: After Years, and on PlayStation Network you can actually play most of the series. From the first Final Fantasy, to Final Fantasy IX, to the "spin off" titles, most of the series is up for long time fans and newcomers alike to enjoy. While this is great for those who own an iOS device, or PlayStation console, or even a Wii, the rest of the world still gets the shaft.

Up until lately, Final Fantasy games have mostly been console exclusives. It is a series which was built with consoles in mind, and that is where it has mostly stayed; on consoles and other handheld devices. The series itself has rarely ventured to the PC market, and when it did, it was almost always met with a poor response. While Final Fantasy VII was released on the PC, the PC version had issues not seen in the original PlayStation release, and it also used lower quality midis (which use artificial instruments and sounds) for the soundtrack, rather than the high quality soundtrack. While the game was still just as fun as on the PlayStation, these "issues" were enough to put some fans off, and it gave them a reason to stick with their home console.

Later on, Final Fantasy XI was also released on the PC, but unlike the other games in the series, it was a MMORPG; one that continues to live on and expand even today. While a PlayStation 2 version was released as well, it was quite expensive, and required extra add ons to play due to its nature. In this case, it was easier and cheaper for most fans to just go with the PC version.

Since then, only a select few Final Fantasy games made it to the PC. Final Fantasy XIV, another MMORPG, was released on the PC shortly after the release of XIII, but the initial launch failed and was rebooted. After this reboot, the game was then put on the PS3, as well as the PS4; all of which share the same server. While some fans may have stayed on the PC, the option is there to play on consoles just as most fans are used to.

Despite dabbling in the PC market, Square-Enix has continued to push consoles and handhelds. Every Final Fantasy released on PC has been overshadowed by a console version at some point (even Final Fantasy XI received an Xbox 360 version later on to replace its PS2 release), and most fans expect it to be this way forever. However, it seems Square-Enix may have other plans.

Within the past couple of years, Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII received PC versions. While they were still the same as on the PlayStation, the prerendered backgrounds were updated, achievements were added in, cloud saves were included, and a few other minor updates were introduced as well; such as a "booster pack" to help you in the beginning of VIII. According to Square-Enix during an interview with EuroGamer, these PC releases actually sold very well, and that got them thinking about the possible future of the series.

Currently, Square-Enix uses a custom game engine for their Final Fantasy titles. It is an engine which they showed off with Final Fantasy XIII, and one of the features they really pushed about it was how it could easily convert the PC games they were creating into console games. As mentioned in the EuroGamer article, all of the Final Fantasy XIII series was actually created as a PC game, and then ported to the other consoles; it was a full working game which could have been released to the public, but the development team decided against. Even so, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen at a later date.

With Square-Enix looking into PC versions of their games, it is very possible we may soon start to see classics return. With Final Fantasy VIII doing so well, it is only natural for IX to be released as well, and it is only a matter of time before we start to see I-VI as well. Although, if Square does take this route, they might take it even farther. With Final Fantasy XV coming out for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, who says it couldn't see a PC release as well? Really, only time can tell what will happen, but it does seem that the future of the series may be brighter. At least in the sense of it reaching a larger audience.

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