Wednesday, July 24, 2013

FFXIV Version 1 - What went wrong?

After starting to play A Realm Reborn, I was really wondering why FFXIV Version 1 failed so badly. I mean - I never played Version 1, but I have heard that there were a lot of issues with the game. So I started digging in the world wide web, seeking for answers. And here is what I found:

Imagine you would release a game even though you know that it's not ready. Even though you know that at the current state, the game will fail. That's what happened with FFXIV Version 1.
When the FFXIV Beta came up, players already experienced the first disappointment. People could barely stay online for more than the intro movie because of huge server instabilities and many things ingame were bugged. But it was just a beta, so there was still hope for the release. The game received a lot of criticism and negative feedback during the beta tests, but the developers didn't really listen.

Sure, there were some good aspects of course. The music was nicely done, the graphics were lovely and beautiful. The character creation also offered a wide variety of options (not as much as for example Aion or Perfect World, but at least you could customize more than just the hair style).
However, Square Enix released the game in September 2010, knowing that it had huge issues that haven't been fixed yet. It wasn't only incomplete, it was almost unplayable and buggy. Server problems occured quite often. The communication with the players was simply non existant. Customers lost trust in Square Enix, and that was basically the worst thing that could happen. Another major negative aspect was that they actually planned to release the game for the PS3 as well, but that never happened. They made a promise but never kept it.

Youichi Wada, president of Square Enix, had to make a public apology to all the disappointed players in the world. The name of Square Enix got damaged badly because of FFXIV Version 1.

The old producer and director of FFXIV was Hiromichi Tanaka, who was in charge of FFXI before he got promoted to become the producer of XIV. He blamed the full development team for the fail launch of the game, even though it was in his hands to release it. However, only three months after release he got replaced by Naoki Yoshida, who is now in charge of A Realm Reborn. It was not only him though, Square Enix replaced the full FFXIV staff with new people.
Naoki Yoshida, also called Yoshi-P, knew that the game could only get fixed if they would completely revamp it. While still working to improve the old version of FFXIV for those who still enjoyed playing, the team also worked on a completely new version of the game.

The old version even went free to play for some months, because Square Enix didn't dare to charge the last of their players a monthly fee until it was at least playable. Overall they improved Version 1 a lot. However, not all major issues could be fixed, and the new FFXIV staff knew that. On November 11, 2013 the old version got shut down with a huge epic event for the veteran players, giving the introduction to A Realm Reborn (Version 2). Almost one year later, on August 27, 2013, the game will get released once again. 

Yoshi-P and his new team did many things different. The most important point is that they always kept the community up to date with what was going on. It wasn't only the new staff, but also the community that helped Yoshi-P and his crew to create a new game. They build A Realm Reborn from the feedback they got in the official forums, made polls and communicated with their fans. However, the new staff had to work with huge time pressure. They were given about two years to create a new FFXIV.

Anyway, Yoshi-P really did a great job so far and he really cares for the players: "To be honest, sales are secondary to me. My drive here is to regain the trust gamers had for us. I have confidence we'll succeed, or else I wouldn't have taken on this project in the first place."

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