The next time you’re settled into a Shinkansen bullet train and get the urge to play Final Fantasy XIII, you can: Square Enix launched a cloud-streaming version of the game on the Japanese App Store last night. Final Fantasy XIII is free to download but includes a lump sum ¥2000 (roughly $16.65) in-app purchase to unlock the full game after a 30-minute demo.
The half-hour trial will presumably allow players to see if their connection is stable enough to support the game—Square Enix recommends 3Mbps Wi-Fi for optimal results.
This isn’t Square Enix’ first foray into streaming, even on the App Store. Last September, the company announced Shinra Technologies, a subsidiary cloud gaming service. Around the same time, Sqaure Enix also announced a mobile streaming service for iOS called DiveIn, which launched in October 2014 with three games: The Cherry Blossom Murders, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy XIII. DiveIn operated on a rental model, with different prices for three days, ten days, a month, or a year.
Unfortunately, DiveIn was removed completely from the Japanese App Store earlier this month. Here’s the kicker: DiveIn was operated by Square Enix, but the streaming tech it used was provided by Broadmedia Corporation and G-Cluster Global, two other Japanese cloud gaming companies. Turns out, Broadmedia are the ones handling the version of Final Fantasy XIII that came out yesterday.
Basically, it seems that Square Enix has decided to release standalone apps that users purchase straight up instead of trying to maintain a streaming rental platform. Other than that, Final Fantasy XIII is the same game that was available last year, right on down to the virtual button overlays.
Our own Shaun Musgrave gave this new version of Final Fantasy XIII a whirl this morning. He says that it runs pretty well, but that somewhat laggy controls and spotty visuals are an issue. That’s pretty typical of streamed games, but there’s obviously a foundation for some cool possibilities: who wouldn’t want Square Enix’ back catalogue available at a moment’s notice?
For now, though, that’s still a pipe dream for most of us: Square Enix haven’t announced any plans to bring Final Fantasy XIII or any other cloud-based games to Europe or North America. And judging by the current state of American internet infrastructure, that might not change for a while.