It all started when the next-gen consoles were released in 2020. Ever since the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and the PlayStation 5 were released, more and more game releases have been priced at $70 (USD). However, these prices seem to be limited to the next-gen experiences and the term "next-gen tax" was coined. For a while there, it seemed as though the "typical" $60 prices would stick around for older-generation consoles as well as PC. Unfortunately, with the recent release of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade this past week, the $70 PC games are now here.

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When the $70 price points were revealed for next-gen consoles, it became less a matter of "if" those prices would start showing up for PC releases of multiplatform titles and more a matter of "when" they would show up. It was also a bit of a crapshoot as to which of the major players in the game industry would be the first to draw the ire of PC gamers. And hey, speaking of craps, how would you like to check out some new Canadian online casinos? Get it? Because gambling? Craps? Crapshoot? Alright, moving on now.

We were given our answer as to which major publisher would be the first to push out a $70 PC release about a week ago now. It was none other than Square Enix with their release of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade for the PC exclusively for the Epic Games Store. $70 is nothing to sneeze at for the basic edition of a video game. What else could you do with $70? Well let me answer that with another question: What is the best online casino for Canada?

Fans are understandably outraged by this increase in price. There are several reasons for the outrage and all of them seem to be quite justified. First off, Final Fantasy VII Remake was first released on the PlayStation 4 back in April 2020. That means it has taken over a year and a half since its initial release before it came to the PC. Typically, when this happens, publishers will release games at a lower price on PC, not a higher one. Some regional pricing around the globe is even more egregious. For instance, in Australia, the price of the base game is $115 (AUD), which converts to just about $82 (USD).

Secondly, the fact that the game is exclusive to the Epic Games Store on PC is another big point of contention among fans. What this says to everyone is that not only did Square Enix accept an exclusivity payment from Sony to keep the game exclusive to the PlayStation for at least a year, but they also accepted more money from Epic Games to make Final Fantasy VII Remake exclusive to the Epic Games Store for an undisclosed amount of time. It may be as short as six months or as long as a year. For some people, that means they will have waited over two and a half years to play the game. This also means that Square Enix accepted money twice and are charging a premium on this release in an effort to pull in even more money.

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In addition to the previous two points, there is also a matter of the game's reportedly poor showing on PC. The PC release of Final Fantasy VII Remake is very bare bones as far as its graphical settings are concerned. The only options included are:
  • Display Mode
  • Screen resolution (Up to 2160p, and no
  • Texture resolution (Low or High)
  • Shadow resolution (Low or High)
  • Framerate (30, 60, 90, or 120 fps options only)
  • Characters displayed
  • Dynamic range
  • Brightness
There are a few additional options available should you change dynamic range to HDR, but that is pretty much it. There are no options for things like resolution scaling, motion blur, anti-aliasing, VSync, or even a variable framerate option.

The game also seems to have some severe performance woes. The PCGamingWiki says that FF7R may have issues with VRAM. The game may go from 120fps straight down to below 30fps if textures are set to High and you are running on graphics cards with less than 8GB of VRAM. The thought is that the game has poor VRAM management. Performance would also suffer greatly any time a new NPC became visible on screen, an issue that is exacerbated if multiple NPCs appear at once while running through town.

There are also several reported issues from those that specialize in technical analysis of game performance. The crew at Digital Foundry noted that there was stuttering, and poor frame times encountered just by spinning the camera around. These were experienced on high-spec PC hardware that includes the Nvidia RTX 3090 and an Intel 10900k. Furthermore, these issues with poor framerates and frame pacing were encountered at just a 1080p resolution.

If this is the sad state in which games are going to be released on PC in 2021 and beyond, it's no wonder that fans are upset at these ridiculous prices. Thus far, it has only been Square Enix that has attempted to push this "next-gen tax" on to PC gamers, but other studios may be quick to follow if they think that they can get away with it. Unfortunately, Square Enix isn't quite finished with their price hike on PC releases either. Another one of their upcoming releases, Forspoken, is already up for pre-order on Steam for, you guessed it, $70. This has not gone over well with most people, and it is only the beginning.