Square Enix has an interesting presence on the iOS App Store and Google Play. Their bread and butter, as a simple search will tell you, is re-releasing their nearly infinite catalog of old-school role-playing games like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. In fairness, they’ve also got a handful of original RPGs like Chaos Rings and a stunning number of little games like Big Hit Baseball that you’ve never heard of. (In Japan, take that to the extreme.) The most curious thing, however, is their pricing model: any Square Enix title worth its weight in megabytes costs an unthinkable $15, if not more. You could find an original cartridge of Final Fantasy – and a NES to play it on — for little more than that. In a world where free-to-play games are becoming the new norm on mobile and even traditional platforms, Square Enix remains a big-ticket dinosaur.
It’s impossible to say that Square Enix isn’t changing its mobile strategy with Final Fantasy: Dimensions, but the title remains a bit of a head-scratcher. The mobile-exclusive entry in Square’s most vaunted franchise will launch next week in the same episodic format that we’ve seen adopted by companies like Telltale, or even Square with its own Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. The total cost for the full Final Fantasy Dimensions experience? A whopping $29. Here’s an excerpt from the official Square Enix blog, where the news was announced:
FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS is delivered as episodic content. The prologue will be free for everyone to enjoy. You can purchase the first chapter for $2.99 / £1.99 / €2.39, chapters 2-4 for $9.99 / £6.99 / €7.99 each, or the entire collection of chapters for $28.99 / £19.99 / €22.99.
In all, it’s an interesting combination of a core-focused, story-driven game with a free-to-play model — give away the first bit of content and make players pay to see the rest. It’s not an entirely new format for delivering games, but it’s bold new territory for a company in need of a Phoenix Down on the mobile market.
Final Fantasy Dimensions, developed by Matrix Software and published by Sqaure Enix, will hit iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android devices on Aug. 31.