Rumors and demands for a remake of VII existed for many years, but multiple reasons were given for why the project was not being developed. Three key original staff members returned to help with Remake: original character designer Tetsuya Nomura returned to both direct and handle character redesigns, original director Yoshinori Kitase acted as producer, and Kazushige Nojima returned to write the script. The decision to release Remake in multiple parts was taken so the team did not have to cut any of the original content. They also decided to add new content and adjust the original character designs to balance between realism and stylization.
Final Fantasy VII Remake, which retells the story of the original game, follows Cloud Strife, a former Shinra soldier who joins the AVALANCHE eco-terrorist group as a mercenary to fight against the Shinra corporation, who have been draining the planet's life energy, only to become involved in something much bigger. Unlike ports of the original game released for computers and other high-definition platforms, the game is a full remake built from the ground-up, featuring full polygonal graphics as opposed to the pre-rendered environments of the original.
Footage shown at PlayStation Experience 2015 demonstrated both exploration and battle mechanics, which both take place in real-time like Final Fantasy XV. Unlike the 'Active Time Battle' system of the original, the remake appears to use a real-time battle system similar to the Kingdom Hearts series, which allows players to freely control Cloud or one of his allies as they use their respective weapons to attack enemies. Players will also be able to use magic and summons, and a Limit Break gauge allows characters to perform more powerful attacks once charged. Producer Yoshinori Kitase stated that while the game has more real-time elements, there would still be strategic elements, such as selecting weapons and magic for each character to wield.
Final Fantasy VII was developed by SquareSoft (later Square Enix) for the PlayStation home console. Beginning its development in 1994 as a Nintendo project before transferring onto the PlayStation, its main staff included producer and series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, director and co-writer Yoshinori Kitase, artist Yusuke Naora, character designer Tetsuya Nomura, and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima. Released in 1997, the game received both contemporary and lasting critical acclaim, became the best-selling title in the Final Fantasy franchise with over 11 million units sold worldwide, and established the Final Fantasy series as a major franchise. VII was later expanded upon through the multimedia project Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, headed by Kitase and Nomura. Demands for and rumors of a remake grew in the wake of both a PlayStation 3 tech demo that was shown at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo, showcasing the opening of VII with then-current technology, and the game's impending tenth anniversary in 2007. On both occasions, it was stated by Square Enix staff that no remake was in development. Despite continued demands and rumors spread by staff messages within the Compilation titles, various reasons were given for why a remake was not being developed: these reasons included wanting a contemporary title to best the sales and popularity of VII, the wish to focus on new titles, the necessity of deleting parts of the original game to make the project manageable, the difficulty of developing on hardware such as the PlayStation 3, and the required development time being overly long.
A remake was initially attempted in the early 2000s, when the company announced a remake for PlayStation 2 alongside Final Fantasy VIII and IX, but nothing further was heard of these projects. The main reason attempts had failed was because remaking VII on current hardware would be a "massive" undertaking, and if kept within a single installment would require heavy cutting of content. Another reason cited was that the staff were preoccupied with developing Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, and Remake would have been an equally large or larger project hard to undertake at the same time. Once the XIII series ended, the team were free to pursue other projects. The Remake project finally began when Final Fantasy producer Shinji Hashimoto broached the subject to Kitase, Nojima and Nomura. All three were reaching a stage of life that they defined as "that age": all felt that if they waited much longer, they might not be alive to or would be too old to develop a remake of VII, and passing the project on to a new generation did not feel right. Another reason for developing the title was that Square Enix was creating a growing library of PlayStation 4 titles, and the team hoped to increase the console's popularity. A notable absence from the original team was Nobuo Uematsu, who composed the original music for VII. By late 2015, the game had reached the stage where full development could begin.