Square Enix’s new game in their signature series, Final Fantasy just released for the second time just over 1 week ago and it’s been very well received. So well received in fact that their server capacity was extremely congested and they received more purchases than they wanted, having to actually shut down digital purchases until they increase server size. Final Fantasy XIV Online: Realm Reborn is the second adaptation of the Final Fantasy MMO that Square Enix released after their first MMO, Final Fantasy XI in May of 2002. The game has been re-worked, changed, updated and is now released as the successor to its 10 year old predecessor. Final Fantasy XI reached up to 2 million active characters in April 2009, recording five expansion packs and six addon scenarios, each adding their own important piece of the story to FFXI 1.0 and pushing the game further along.
With FFXIV: RR reaching almost 2 million purchases so far including preorders in the previous months of closed beta, and the week after release, there have been severe restrictions on server logins and promises to fix them. Square Enix’s team has reported they are implementing a 10 hour maintenance tonight at 5PM PST to adjust the server populations and create more servers, which should help with the infamous Error 1017: World server is full. Many players have been outraged at the fact that they are unable to log in, and there are plenty of people speaking of canceling their orders and getting refunds just because of these problems, simply put, the population is not happy.
It’s nothing new for an MMO to experience server capacity issues here and there, quite often it’s just one server or “shard” having some issues excluding a small part of the population of the game while it comes back online, sometimes too many people try to log in at once and it crashes, or a giant world boss spawns and blows the server up. In this case, Square Enix reports that they “Didn’t expect the amount of players that they received, and have to implement restrictions on how many can log in at a time.” Square Enix was extremely underprepared for the amount of activity they would receive on their game which might be due to the fact that they only peaked anywhere between 100 to 200 thousand people logging into FFXI daily. But how could they be so blind to a re-release of a game, promising new and exciting changes to the MMORPG market and player, riding in on a loyalty that has been spread across almost two decades to a vast amount of gamers?
Many people have resorted to not even logging out at all, just to maintain their spot in the game so they don’t waste 3 hours a day just trying to log in to the game that they paid $30 for. That’s right, Square has been so kind as to not even implement an AFK (Away-From-Keyboard) kicker, meaning you can be logged in for days at a time and have no consequences. No being brought back to the log in screen, nothing at all. Players that got in during the first few days of the release have yet to log out as they fear the infamous Error 1017. Combine that with the fact that Square has even shut down character creation on their servers until they fix the issues, FFXIV might be a game with great potential to entertain its customers, and the potential will all be lost on something as simple as an oversight on server population.
How long will these issues last?
Of course Square immediately responded to the issues, planning a maintenance just to address the server issues and profusely apologizing for their mistakes. But will it be enough? As if the paying population of the game aren’t already pissed off enough that nearly half of them can’t even log in, or have to stay up until 3 AM just to play for 20 minutes until they get disconnected, what about the people that can’t even buy the game due to the purchases being cut off? Square has shut down all digital purchases of their game until these issues are resolved, many players are eagerly awaiting to play the game and sitting in anticipation until they can spend their hard earned money, all because of an oversight on server population. If that wasn’t bad enough, the people that have had the chance to play are all getting kicked off tonight for a ten hour maintenance just so they can fix an issue that should have already been addressed at launch.
You see, the problem in this scenario was not entirely that they underestimated the success of the game, it’s that they kept the game under lock and key until 8 hours AFTER the game was released. Screenshots were allowed to be shown, but game sound and video was heavily protected under NDA until seemingly, the day after release. Even people with early access for preordering the game couldn’t show off their accomplishments on sites like Twitch.TV or Youtube because Square Enix was afraid of what the public would think of their game. No stress tests for the servers, at all. There was only a closed beta offered to those that were invited and a few hundred others, usually it’s custom for an MMO to have a closed beta right up until they are ready to start stress testing the servers to prepare for release, but there are no reports of Square Enix doing that at all with FFXIV. Hell, even wildstar is stress testing their servers and game and they don’t release for another year.
With the public extremely pissed off and even some loyal fans being turned away from the series due to the extreme fear that potential customers might not buy the game if they see game footage, Square Enix has alienated a large majority of those potential customers. All because they refused to lift NDA and enter open beta, they refused to look at their past Final Fantasy games and see how well received they have always been in North America, instead they decided to focus on the Japanese servers anticipating they would be more cluttered. I’ve had to install an autohotkey program just so I don’t have to spend five hours clicking and spamming on my keyboard just to be met with the same infuriating error each time, all because of an oversight.
Do you think FFXIV:RR will last? Do you think that Square Enix has pushed away potential customers by refusing to allow the public access to their game even when it should have been in open beta? Leave your thoughts Below or on the forums for discussion.