FFXIV: A Realm Reborn's Server Issues Examined

Posted Mon, Aug 26, 2013 by Xerin

Game launches have historically been an affair, ranging from the olden days of certain retailers holding copies of games to push the idea of pre-ordering (creating a false sense of short supply) all the way to server crashes and the fantastic SimCity fiasco of servers being down for a mostly single player game. With the release of FFXIV we’re once again back into that wonderful cycle of servers catching fire and staring blankly into an infinite cycle of the server trying to connect.

FFXIV’s Issue

Well, FFXIV’s issue is that it seems they expected a handful and got two. The registration system was so overloaded that preorder keys were not accepted for a long period of time right before servers came up and once the servers came up various worlds have been taken down several times for maintenance and now there are login queues. Once the queue is full it appears that you’re just flat out rejected from the game.

Then there is “emergency maintenance” that fun time where once you get into the server you find that it’s about to go down for a few hours while they improve their infrastructure to hopefully allow you into the game quicker and have fewer of these interruptions, though likely server instability follows.

Of course, this is to be expected and for many they flip a coin between “this is early access deal with it” and “Square-Enix blah blah profanity blah blah.” How do I feel myself? As a seasoned veteran of MMO launches, at this point, I could care less, but for some I can understand the frustration.

FFXIV

A screenshot of what the game looks like if you could play it.

What You Can Do

Nothing.

There is nothing you can do. There is nothing to make it better. No tweet, no forum post, no fist shaking, nothing can make it better. Actually, this is hilariously one of those things where being vocal can make it worse. Why? Well, Star Wars: The Old Republic had a huge surge of players the first week. In response, they began opening new servers up in mass and ramped their infrastructure up rapidly. The problem wasn’t enough servers though; it was that most people were piling onto servers with the funny names.

What happened though is that new players were funneled into these fresh newly opened servers, but these servers had almost no one on them after the first major rush. Why? Well, people only cash out sick / vacation time for the first little bit and then return to their routine log on whenever they have free time schedule. College students can only skip so many classes to play for 24 to 48 hours straight and the rest of the players decide the game isn’t for them and quit.

Anyway, the huge rush for a game is only at the start, for the first week, if not the first few days. After that, server issues, login queues, etc. generally resolve themselves. If the game developer ramps up the number of servers or infrastructure then they can end up with either dead servers or unused infrastructure costing them money (which that cost generally gets passed onto the consumer).

So my biggest and best advice is to wait. You’ll catch up to your friends when they have to quit playing so much due to real life and the servers will calm down by the end of the week.

Of course, I’m not a Squire-Enix fanboy desperately clutching onto a copy of the original FF7 while writing my thesis on how FF3J FF6US is the perfect mix of both drama and storytelling. I think that the beta stress tests should ring a rather long tone for how many people are going to be playing (my understanding is there were over a million beta registrations) and with the advent of the cloud, dynamically adjusting resources shouldn’t be difficult.

However, at this point and time, there is no true reason or rush to play. There is no direct benefit to being first to max level and there isn’t a compelling reason to sit anxiously by cuddling my stuffed animals waiting dearly for the server to let me in. Which, for me at least, hasn’t really been that bad. I had to spam login for maybe five minutes and then wait through an hour and half of downtime before I was instantly let back in, but I’ve read some experiences have been worse.

FF7 is on Steam if you need an immediate Final Fantasy fix, though.

FF7 Box Art

Heh, finally, I can fit the box art of FF7 into an article. Now to somehow make a Cloud Strife joke.

Historical Lessons

One thing I can say for certain is that at least we don’t have to go through the WoW type hysteria anymore. If I remember right it lasted for nearly a month and included free game time and queues nearly a thousand long, if not more, which still reemerge during patches.

One thing that I wish to tell any game developer – design for the cloud. Allow servers to expand and look into doing what WoW is doing, have different servers for community, but let them all flow into one based on availability. Pool your resources. Makes it enjoyable for everyone during high and low tide.

In the meantime, as I said, FF7 is on steam. You’ll need to excuse me while I continue writing about how FF3/FF6 is perhaps the best game of all time.

I mean… ahem.

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