Square Enix's Mobile Game Problem Has Me Worried For Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

A preservation problem.

Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia
Square Enix

It seems like every week heralds the announcement of another live service or mobile game shutting down. This time, the victim is Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, marking a new entry in a string of mobile titles shut down by developer Square Enix. The last two years saw the close of Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier, Kingdom Hearts Union χ Dark Road, and Echoes of Mana. This closure is particularly striking, however, as Opera Omnia has a dedicated fanbase and a story filled with fun interactions between characters from across the series. It raises a larger question about what happens to these stories when games are no longer supported, which is especially important in light of how Square Enix connects the mobile game Ever Crisis with Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.

Video game preservation has become increasingly essential as the industry ages, consoles stop working, and digital marketplaces go offline. With mobile games in particular, which often rely heavily on online features, there’s no system in place to preserve these experiences, meaning they often get reduced to old footage and YouTube videos.

That’s distressing for any game, and every experience deserves to be preserved for history and posterity. But it becomes even more worrisome when these titles narratively weave into larger experiences. This is where my concern starts to seep in for Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis, a mobile (and soon PC) game that seeks to recreate the original game's plot while adding new narrative elements.

Ever Crisis holds a lot of interesting narrative details that, while not necessary, help flesh out Final Fantasy 7’s world and characters.

Square Enix

Chief among these new elements is the game’s “First Soldier” story, which stars a group of early SOLDIER candidates years before the events of Final Fantasy 7 and, for the first time, introduces a young Sephiroth. While this story may not be “essential” to understanding Rebirth, it does have a lot of extra context that helps flesh out both the Shinra Company and Sephiroth’s origins. On top of that, there’s a strong fan theory that Glenn, the main character of The First Soldier, appears in one of the trailers for Rebirth. This indicates that Ever Crisis could have a larger impact on Rebirth than it already does. Years down the road, we’ll still have discs and backups of Rebirth. But will we have any way to experience Ever Crisis, which feeds directly into that?

At the very least, the stories present in Ever Crisis now, and one planned for the future, help expand and flesh out the world of Final Fantasy 7. But if the game shuts down, which, considering Square Enix’s track record, seems possible, what happens to those stories? Are they lost for eternity with no way to play them?

Square Enix offered a temporary solution in Kingdom Hearts Union χ, which has an offline version still available, allowing players to see the main story of the game as well as Dark Road, a sub-game within Union χ that tells the story of a young Xehanort. However, you’re not actually playing these stories, instead accessing a menu of cutscenes that were interspersed between gameplay missions. While it’s great the narrative is still accessible, it’s truly a shame the whole thing can’t be experienced in its original form. What’s there now is less a game and more a movie.

Kingdom Hearts Dark Road’s story can still be experienced, but that’s still not the way the development team originally envisioned it.

Square Enix

This is a growing problem for mobile games in general, as every week sees the release of dozens of new titles on the App Store and Google Play Store. At the same time, we’re constantly seeing these mobile games shutting down or being taken offline. Mobile storefronts are hemorrhaging content, with nothing in place to ensure these experiences aren’t forgotten. Preservation is a big enough issue with console and AAA games, but it’s seemingly nonexistent for the scores of mobile games.

Dissidia: Opera Omnia was a fun little experience that leans into Final Fantasy nostalgia in inventive ways, but soon enough that could be lost. Developers like Square Enix must find ways to keep these experiences intact, especially when they build into something else like Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.

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