The setting of Final Fantasy VII is the fictional world of Gaia. It’s more commonly referred to in the game as just “the planet”. Some fans even call it “Midgar,” after its most prominent single location. Once upon a time, though, FFVII was set to take place on Earth. The official FFVII Remake account dropped another bit of trivia about the game’s development in a post from February 11th. The post revealed that pre-production treatments for FFVII‘s story initially established the narrative as taking place in New York City, in New York, USA.
According to the post, the story would’ve been different, as well. It doesn’t go into detail, but other features about the development and setting of Final Fantasy VII shed some light on what might have been. In Matt Leone’s 2017 interview series about FFVII‘s earliest days, Tetsuya Nomura suggested that then-producer Hironobu Sakaguchi’s first plot treatment for the game was set in New York, and that it involved a character named “Detective Joe” investigating a group out to destroy the city’s Mako Reactors. One member of the group was a prototype for the character who would eventually become Cloud Strife. This proto-Cloud was also written to be a “Berserker” character with a “sealed” left arm.
For his part, Sakaguchi said that the New York concept might have been related to another project: Parasite Eve, which did take place in New York and launched in 1998, a year after FFVII.
Additionally, this early treatment for the Final Fantasy VII setting would’ve incorporated “a battle against a witch.” This point was used to segue into a celebration of the 24th anniversary of Final Fantasy VIII. That game did end up using the fight against the powerful sorceress Edea as a major plot pivot.
Final Fantasy VII is available on the PS1, PC, and PS4. Its Remake edition is available on the PS4, PS5, and PC. Matt Leone’s interview series was compiled as a book, titled 500 Years Later: An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII, and published by Read Only Memory.