Nearly two years after the disastrous launch of Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix has unveiled the game’s next evolution. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is due for both PlayStation 3 and PC, though no specific dates have been identified. According to Square Enix, the game has been “rebuilt from the ground up” and, appropriately enough, “centers on the core concept of rebirth.” A trailer (above) has been released to celebrate the announcement.
When it first launched in September of 2010, Final Fantasy XIV was a mess. Mere months after it appeared on PC, Square Enix determined that the only way forward was to restructure the development team responsible for the game, and indefinitely delay Final Fantasy XIV’s appearance on PlayStation 3 — a delay that has lasted to this day. When Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada famously admitted that, “The Final Fantasy brand has been greatly damaged,” he was speaking specifically of Final Fantasy XIV.
Nevertheless, Wada and company never lost faith in the game. The restructured development team, headed up by Producer/Director Naoki Yoshida, has worked diligently over the intervening months to make the existent PC game better and better in advance of the title’s full relaunch, previously referred to as Final Fantasy XIV 2.0. Based on the remarks accompanying A Realm Reborn’s announcement, Yoshida is eager to share his new game with the world.
“Since announcing our plans for the future of the title last October, we have been working tirelessly to include all of the elements that we have promised in FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn. This new title not only becomes a symbol of a completely new FINAL FANTASY XIV, but also marks the beginning of a new stage as the latest title in the FINAL FANTASY series. I hope you’re looking forward to it!”
No doubt he does. After all, Final Fantasy XI — Square’s last attempt at a Final Fantasy MMO, released ten years ago and still a going concern — is the most profitable game in the series’ history, and a new expansion (Seekers of Adoulin) is due next year. Unfortunately for Square Enix, the MMO market is not what it used to be, and competition is fiercer than ever.
World of Warcraft, still the 800-pound gorilla of the genre, has managed to retain most of its subscribers, and its next expansion, Mists of Panderia (which is due in September) should help keep subscription numbers strong. But WoW is the exception, not the rule. Nearly every other MMO of note has had to transition to the free-to-play model (Everquest and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes are only the most recent examples), while Star Wars: The Old Republic — once believed to be a genuine contender to WoW — has seen its average server population dwindle to just 344 players. Needless to say, Electronic Arts is now exploring free-to-play options for The Old Republic.
Will Square Enix do the same for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn? The company charges a monthly subscription fee for the current version of Final Fantasy XIV (though the game was free for more than a year), and the plan for Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 was to charge a base rate of $13 per month. But if Star Wars: The Old Republic is having trouble surviving as a subscription-based MMO — and it is — what chance does A Realm Reborn stand? What do you think?
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is “coming soon” to PC and PS3.
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