When will MMORPG developers learn? – Never, under any circumstances skimp on servers at launch. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is just the latest in a long line of titles to outstrip its own expectations, and then crumble in the face of server shortage.
Square Enix‘s ill-fated attempt at online domination has already endured (and inflicted) plenty of needless suffering throughout its 3-year lifespan. Originally released on September 10th 2010 for the PC, the title struggled to find much of an audience, eventually prompting the developer to remove and retool the project across a 10-month period.
As Game Rant reported earlier this week, the title’s bold new direction now appears to have backfired in spectacular – as the game’s 5,000-player servers struggle to keep pace with the demands of hundreds of thousands of people.
Having taken down the network for an emergency 10-hour clean up operation, Square announced yesterday that three all-new servers had been added to the service; one for each of the game’s major player bases, in Japan, North America, and Europe. Unfortunately, for players who enjoy the wackier side of avatar design, the game’s creation suite and ‘Duty Finder’ party mechanics have also been pared down, in an attempt to further reduce login issues. Add to that, suspensions of the game’s digital sales, and the random user lockouts still plaguing gamers, and Square Enix still has plenty of reason to apologize.
The Japanese company began by offering a 7-day extension to the game’s initial month long trial period, an expected move that was somewhat overshadowed by Sony’s ‘unrelated’ attempts to placate PS3 owners of the game. The PlayStation-maker announced it would refund British, Australian and New Zealand-based gamers for the full price of their purchase, if the title had been bought digitally on either the 27th or 28th of August. Not only that, but as Game Informer reported earlier today, players would also be free to reactivate the title at a later date, absolutely free of charge. There’s no word on whether this spirit of generosity will extend to North American gamers, however.
Finally, FFXIV director Naoki Yoshida has apologized personally to fans for his part in the botched launch. Writing on the game’s official forums, the designer stated:
“I would like to take the time to personally apologize once again to all those players who have been affected by the extended World login and character creation restrictions which have been in place for the past several days. […][FFXIV's recent issues] are a direct result of my inaccurate sales and login estimates, and as producer, I must accept complete responsibility for this misstep. Each and every player who has been affected has my deepest apologies.”
Despite the game’s increasing stability, it may already be too late to save Final Fantasy XIV from ruin. While it’s certainly refreshing to find a figurehead willing to take the blame for an incident like this, it doesn’t change the fact the title squandered its second change at success. If anyone had cause to be overly cautious in this instance, it was Square Enix. Having taken the time to rebuild the game, it’s unfortunate that more money wasn’t spent on servers, on the off chance that their big money endeavor actually became a success.
How has this latest scandal affected your view of Final Fantasy XIV? Have your say in the comments below.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is now available for PC & PlayStation 3.
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