Official COVID-19 lockdowns throughout the majority of Japan began April 7, significantly later than the rest of the world. While some regions, such as Hokkaido, began locking down earlier, most of the country closed up shop and barred their doors just three days before the official release of Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Despite this, the game sold exceptionally well in Japanese markets. Many stores delayed closing their doors for as long as possible, allowing over 700,000 copies to be sold in the first days following the game's release. Stores reported extremely high demand, with many selling out of copies of the game entirely.
Famitsu's Marketing Data Service described the release as comparable to that of Final Fantasy XV, which was released in October 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. XV sold 720,000 copies at launch, meaning that Cloud and his crew very nearly tied Noctis and the gang despite the global pandemic situation.
Also, Final Fantasy VII Remake has also positively affected the sales of the PlayStation 4, which has historically not performed well in Japan. Last week, the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro sold a combined 79,000 units in Japanese markets. (Interestingly, the Nintendo Switch, which typically out-performs the PS4, dropped to 25,000 units last week, although this has been attributed to a worldwide shortage of Switch units.)
Japanese fans are buying Final Fantasy VII Remake, but are they enjoying it? This is not quite as simple to determine. Amazon Japan reviews for the game are a mixed bag, with fans praising the game's improved graphics and greater length. In contrast, others criticize the "anime-style" appearance of the characters and the increased role of Sephiroth, the game's antagonist.
Interestingly, several Japanese fans complained that they were unaware that Remake adapted only the Midgar section of the game. This fact was repeatedly emphasized in Western trailers and press releases. Was the game marketed differently in Japan? It's a question that should be asked.
Hopefully, Final Fantasy VII Remake continues to sell well despite the tightening restrictions and lockdown policies throughout Japan. At the very least, quarantined fans who have purchased copies of the game certainly have plenty of time to dive into Cloud's all-new adventures thoroughly!