Final Fantasy VII is one of the most iconic video games of all time, but that kind of fame came with a steep price tag, as it was one of the most expensive video games ever made when it was first produced. The graphical jump between FF6 and FF7 had the same effect as the one from Super Mario World to Super Mario 64, where it’s so impressive that there will likely never be another jump like it going forward.
The crux of FF7‘s marketing campaign was that it was packed with impressive 3D visuals, including lots of pre-rendered cutscenes. This was not only a great advert for the game, but also for the original PlayStation, as the N64’s cartridges couldn’t handle the game. It’s no wonder the launch of FF7 caused a massive rift between Square and Nintendo. FF7 didn’t arrive on a Nintendo console until the Switch, though Cloud did appear in other Nintendo games beforehand.
The content in FF7 was impressive to witness and it was clear that Square was all-in on 3D tech, but the company’s opus came with a price tag. The Final Fantasy series has always pushed the envelope when it comes to visuals, but FF7 had to take the biggest leap of all.
According to the Guinness World Record’s Gamer’s Edition 2015, FF7 cost $45 million to produce, with another $100 million spent on marketing. Those figures are especially impressive when you consider that’s in late ’90s money. That’s nearly a combined $250 million when adjusted for inflation. The marketing cost is likely due in large part to the fact that the game was promoted during prime-time TV shows, which have some of the highest ad rates in the world. FF7 was the most expensive video game ever made for a long time, though ballooning AAA budgets have pushed it down the list, with Red Dead Redemption 2 currently holding the title. Even so, it remains an impressive feat of spending.
The incredible cost of FF7 paid off in the end, as regardless of how much it originally cost to produce, it cemented the Final Fantasy name as a mainstream brand and helped JRPGs find an audience outside of Japan. In the late 1990s, this was no mean feat. It’s gone on to become (just behind Gran Turismo) the second best-selling PS1 game of all time, and FF7 is still one of the most popular entries in the series to this day, with its characters appearing in high-profile crossovers and expensive merchandise. Square’s gambit paid off and Final Fantasy VII created a legacy that far outstripped its initial cost.