Everything’s gotta die eventually, and Square Enix heard the death knell loud and clear. Dig up an early grave because the company’s battle royale mobile game, Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier, will shut down on January 11, 2023.
Launched in November 2021, The First Soldier was Square Enix’s attempt to capitalize on the popular battle royale trend. Think Fortnite, but with swords and chocobos instead of just guns and cars. You created a character adorned with outfits worn by series faves like Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart, then skydived onto various Midgar maps with 74 other players to be the last soldier standing. I had a blast with the game despite some performance issues and its exclusivity on Android and iOS platforms. Still, it crossed one million downloads not long after it released, so there was an audience.
Square Enix announced on the game’s official website, a month before its first anniversary, that service for The First Soldier will come to an end in January. The blog post specified that the company couldn’t “deliver the experience that we were hoping to and that you all deserve,” leading to the game’s unceremonious shuttering. I’m not entirely sure a revive materia will work here, y’all. Sadly, I think this one is done-done. Permadeath got to it.
“Although there is only a little less than three months until service ends, we will continue to make updates during this time, so we hope you will continue to enjoy Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier until the very end,” Square Enix said. “We would like to thank you all for supporting us over the past year.”
The community is shooketh but not necessarily surprised by the announcement. Many in the tweet’s mentions saw the writing on the wall, particularly because The First Soldier was mobile only. One tweeter said the “game design works well together,” but the performance issues were its “killing blow.” Another simply argued that the Avalanche gang—members like Biggs and Jessie alongside Barret and Cloud—should’ve been added to Fortnite instead. Most seem to agree, though, that it might see a resurgence if it re-releases on PC.
Kotaku has reached out to Square Enix for comment.
This news bums me out, and not just as a games preservation enthusiast. In my impressions a few days after it dropped, I called The First Soldier an “intriguing mix” of Final Fantasy design and battle royale emergent gameplay that suffered for being a mobile-only release. The small phone screen does the game absolutely no favors, making it difficult to sort through all the on-screen information. Couple the puny display with the occasional performance issues—dropped frames, input delay, etc.—and you have a frustrating albeit exhilarating free-to-play battle royale action game. Maybe things would’ve been different had it launched on consoles and PC. But this is the timeline we live in, and it always sucks when a game dies, no matter the reason.