Final Fantasy XIV... so close and yet so far

11 September 2010, by Nightwrath

For the last few weeks there has been an abundance of information related to Square Enix’s new title. And it’s well deserved since the new mmo seems to be the new “monster” in town.

Some would say it is too big of a monster — the system requirements are harsh indeed. These conditions alone will drive away a large chunk of the market. I mean – Intel® Core™ i7 (2.66 GHz) or faster, NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 460 with 768 MB VRAM or equivalent – RECOMMENDED??? I really don’t want to find out what kind of rig is needed for all settings maxed out 😀

For the rest who do possess the “beasts” required… will they buy it? Play it? I mean, seriously… how many fans does the Final Fantasy IP really have? Quite a lot, apparently 🙂

One of the problem with the Final Fantasy series is that you have to at least accept the Asian art style (which many people do not) and the rather special/unusual mechanics of the gameplay. Now, if you are one of those guys, the next problem is… that every single FF game is… something else. Some may enjoy Final Fantasy VI. Heck, some think is the best thing ever. Others think something like that about the 7th title. Most of them hated FF XIII. Others adored it (and we are talking about FF fans alone in this one). And many console players… hate MMOs. They love single player games like FF XIII let’s say, but would never get close to the grinding from FF XI. It’s really hard to predict how the FF single player fan will react to a FF MMORPG.

Now, since I mentioned Final Fantasy XI, it is time to see what happened to this specific title. Until 2009 the estimated number of subs was… 500,000. Isn’t that… quite a lot? Yup, except for WOW, Lineage titles or Aion this is one of the biggest number of paying customers (I have to underline here the word “paying”). So, can this be counted as a huge success? I guess it is. For some people Final Fantasy XI is the best MMORPG out there. And you know what? Perhaps it is. But is it accessible or fun? That is… debatable. Probably WOW is more fun for the larger masses, hence the bigger subs number. It is a matter of taste, after all.

So, coming back to the present times, we have a market where most of the population of casuals are playing whatever is hyped and accessible (see the WOW part…), where there is a well established FF niche (but rather divided between the FF XI and single player games fans) and Square Enix thought it was time for a new MMORPG in the series. Is this a good move? Let’s think about one obvious risk, since it is done by the same team from the previous mmorpg… there is a danger of subs bleeding from FF XI and going towards the new one. After all the FF XIV is rather fresh and people are getting bored of the same game after so many years…

But what SE is really trying to do (or so they say) is to attract new players. And specifically – more CASUAL players. And that, without FF XIV becoming too much of a WOW clone. Will they succeed? I don’t know, but this surely is one bold move.

I, myself am a rather casual player, an ex-WOW player, not much of a fan when it comes to the Final Fantasy IP, and yet… I am quite excited about this title and even pre-ordered it. Why is that? Because… perhaps I have changed. My tastes have changed. I am more open to different options than I used to be back in the day… Perhaps something similar is happening to a significant segment in the market and Square Enix saw that opportunity… who knows?

Perhaps the game will fail or it will cater to my tastes. And yet, I am ready to give it a chance. I hope I will not be disappointed 🙂