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Final Fantasy XIV – Needing to Learn Lessons of the Past

Posted Fri, Jul 19, 2013 by Dalmarus

Final Fantasy XIV - Needing to Learn Lessons from the Past

The path of Final Fantasy XIV is one fraught with more ups and downs and then even more downs than any other MMORPG I can think of, at least when we’re talking about the ones that made it out the door. The first iteration of FFXIV did make it to the public, but was so universally hated that, aside from a brief period of time in 2012, Square Enix never bothered to actually collect any subscriptions from their customers and eventually shut the servers down. Rather than scrap the entire project and create something completely new, they decided to attempt a rework and reboot the existing game.

At E3 this year, we gave FFXIV an award for best respawn, saying at the time, “While the game still retains its distinctive look and feel, nearly every aspect of the game has been rebuilt into a tighter, faster, and more cohesive overall MMO experience.” This is still true and, although I’ve never personally been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, I am excited to see a game attempt a comeback and expand the choices we have when it comes to scratching that MMORPG itch.

While we can’t talk about everything we’ve seen or the various systems in the game just yet, FFXIV’s creators, Square Enix, have given the NDA a partial drop allowing us to speak about the beta test itself. As such, I pestered my friends who had keys, and we started the magical ride of beta testing goodness… or so I had hoped.

Final Fantasy XIV - Needing to Learn Lessons from the Past

The moment I even began the process of trying to recover my Square Enix account from my Final Fantasy XI days, I was instantly reminded of how insanely painful, frustrating, and just freaking mind-shatteringly maddening their entire account set-up process is. To give a little context here, I bought FFXI after a number of expansions had already been released for it in 2006. As a result, the idea of having a smooth account creation system should not only have been within the realm of reasonable thought, it should have been a damned reality by then. It wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

Back then, I ended up having to use three different emails before I finally managed to get their system to work and recognize that yes, I had indeed actually created an account, checked all their buttons acknowledging that I had registered on the forums with said account, and registered my key. This took up nearly an hour of my time and to this day I still blame that Saturday morning for half of the grey hairs on my head. If my PC hadn’t been my baby, I would have chucked it out the window in pure frustration.

Fast forward NINE YEARS and guess what? Today was the exact same experience. Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume (and this is one hell of an assumption) that Final Fantasy XIV did reasonably well when it released the first time. I’m not even saying it had to do really well, just well enough that it wasn’t a flop. Then, I might be able to understand a developer believing their fan base was so strong they wouldn’t need to bother changing the account set-up process. You know… that thing a potential customer has to do before they even get inside your game. Even as I write this now I can’t adequately express how completely asinine, uncalled-for, and inherently stupid this is.

Final Fantasy XIV - Needing to Learn Lessons from the Past

Well guess what, Square Enix? Your game wasn’t so successful that you needn’t worry about the customer experience. Final Fantasy XIV was a complete and utter failure on a scale of which we have never seen in the industry. To say it went down more explosively than the Hindenburg would be a kindness. I’m not sure who’s calling the shots over there, but to me, a failure of that magnitude should indicate to the company that they need to do everything possible to ensure that systems such as account creation offered the smoothest and least painful experience not only compared to other MMORPGs on the market now, but out of any that would ever come in the future. If you’re trying to crawl out of a pit so deep there doesn’t appear to be any bottom, letting go of the rope before you even open the gate to the game is just baffling.

To put things in perspective, I’ve got four friends who were trying to get everything set up to play FFXIV this past weekend. Two of us were eventually able to get to the point of downloading the game. For me, getting to this stage took over an hour and forced me to create two new Gmail accounts because the system borked my first attempt... and my second. One friend gave up after two hours and multiple emails stating, “The game “can f***ing rot and die before I’m wasting any more f***ing time trying to get an account created.”

This is all before we’ve even looked at the game itself during this phase of the beta test. If I were Square Enix, I’d figure out a way to fix these issues and fix them now, or this new version of Final Fantasy XIV isn’t going to stand a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything but crashing and burning… again.


Nothing about how much better the game is, just 9 incredibly wordy paragraphs to say 1 sentences worth of complaint. "Their customer service isn't great creating an account is a pain in the ass." of course i had no problems doing this, maybe your friends just aren't very intelligent. Shit I was 15 when FFXI came out and still managed to get it up and running just fine. Perhaps the problem is not them but you.

Here is what this article should have read...

Every aspect of the game is much improved, the game flows better, gear feels meaningful, the job ability choices are impactful, you can jump (yes this is a huge deal), the levelling experience is much improved with levequests no longer being strangled to 8 every 48 hours, the addition of hunting logs, and instances, not to mention a dungeon finder where you can queue on one job, then switch and run around doing other stuff while waiting.

That would be great, assuming that a) my friends were able to get in, and b) this article was about the gameplay experience itself. Which it wasn't. So thanks for the reply ;)

Well I'm sorry your friends couldn't figure it out, judging by the number of people in the game it wasn't too tough. To address B, why wasn't it an article about the game? There are plenty of topics not under NDA which could easily fill an article.

Yeah Squeenix isn't the easiest company to work with, from their crysta system, to their customer support, it's weird and doesn't make a lot of sense. But the simple fact is, that really isn't a huge issue when you have a fun, engaging, and interesting game. 9 paragraphs about 1 facet of customer service, hell you could have expanded your article to just generally bitch about customer service. Essentially your topic wasn't deep enough for how much you wrote. D+

I kinda have to agree with the first poster. I forgot I had even signed up for the beta for this game till i got the email saying I was in the beta, had no idea what my login even was when I got the beta invite, I dont play any other SE games, but still managed to retrieve my info, get logged in, and had the game downloaded and installed in about 20 min. I am by no means a hardcore gamer and usually Im yelling at my hubby to come help if it gets too difficult.

I cant really say much for the game itself, but I wouldnt think your article is the typical experience. Im not sure why you and your friends found it so difficult either.

Odd, what phase is this article pertaining to?

I started Phase 3 and had no issue.
-Though I had made a SE Member Account months prior when Beta Access was first announced to be starting.

Only issue now is with the 'Face Lift' that _hopefully_ will be resolved

Honestly, I'm glad to hear there are folks out there that had no problems with their system accepting their information. The more people have testing for them, the better. At the same time, just because everything went well for you, does not mean it went smoothly for everyone else - and thus my article. Just because you didn't get food poisoning from McDonald's last week doesn't mean no one else did.

Hopefully, there are more people that have a smooth ride than don't but I'm not holding my breath. ^_^

"Just because you didn't get food poisoning from McDonald's last week doesn't mean no one else did."

Exactly.. Just because YOU got food poisoning from McDonalds last week doesn't mean everyone else did too. You gave an extremely long winded harsh rage fest on 1 part of a website- that isnt even about the game itself, that only a small percentage of people are experiencing and that may not even be a problem besides user error.... As I said before Im not really a fan of the actual game, and cant say much about it, but I read your article because I wanted to see some other peoples opinion about the game, only to be disappointed because its nothing more than some whine fest about you and your friends not being able to figure out how to log in.

I'm mainly worried that people are going to read this example of "journalism" and not even give the game a shot, based on something which most people didn't experience. Judging from the number of people in game, (always full) and the lack of complaints I've seen about this on other sites/forums.

Also a food poisoning example is extreme and once again flavored with your bias.

Of course it's my bias. I write what I experience. This isn't the New York Times or something where I'm trying to be a neutral party in an article I'm writing. If my experience had been pleasant the article would reflect that, but since it wasn't, it isn't. It's as simple as that.

Oh, I'm sorry I thought this was supposed to be a News site. Guess I'll have to go find one of those. Not sure what that makes this place.

We do more than news, and as you can see in the tags at the top of the article, this was an opinion piece, an editorial, not a news piece. Hope that clears up any confusion.

I spent 30mins trying to log in on the website, no matter what I did it said invalid password. No game is worth that much work just to log in and activate

I'm failing to see where anywhere in the title, or in the tagline, or even the beginning paragraph of the article did I ever say it was going to be about the game itself and not my experience with their account system? If I had said anything about a FFXIV Preview or Gameplay in the title, I'd understand, but both the title and tagline should have made it pretty clear this wasn't going to be a happy piece of work -

"Final Fantasy XIV - Needing to Learn Lessons of the Past

If Square Enix is trying to pull Final Fantasy XIV from the ashes, then how come they’re repeating past mistakes?"

At the end of the day though, everyone is more than welcome to their own opinion and I encourage anyone that wants to, to write their own articles somewhere.

Not an article I enjoyed. Read like a multi-paragraph rant.

The crux of the matter is, I had a total of 6 people (including me) entering ARR beta test, here's how it went:

1) I had an account from XI and XIV 1.0 -which I never played-, remembered what password I had, and registered the beta key instantly.

2) A friend who also had an account from XI and XIV 1.0 recovered his password through a security question and registered the beta key instantly.

3) Four other friends who didn't have an SE account at all, were able to register an account and immediately after that add the beta key on it and proceed to the Beta forums where they could download the client.

Yes, FF XI era was completely horrendous, but right now the account management system seems much better, at least technically speaking, its UI leaves a lot to be desired yet.

Thus, I don't "get" all that frustration, and based on both personal experience, friends experience, and 3 forums I regularly read, nothing happened regarding access to the beta.

Maybe you were just unlucky or tried to register at a time of the day when they were maintaining the system?

I had some issues getting things started but was able to overcome them. That said, the game itself is more of the same. I guess you could class it as 'good' or 'polished', other words that spring to mind are 'uninspired' and 'boring'.

I was probably in the worst possible scenario with my square enix account before the Realm Reborn beta started. I had a hardware security key associated with my account that broke over the past year, so I was completely unable to log in. Within a few days after contacting Square Enix support I got my account access back and was able to download the test client and was in game. Along with others here I can't really understand where all your frustration came from. Regardless, to post an article about the new FFXIV beta and to not actually say one thing about the game itself, just moan about the the account management system is a waste of space at best.

The work Square Enix put into raising FFXIV from the ashes deserves recognition. I may be biased as I was one of the few who enjoyed the original FFXIV... putting up with the painful UI and oft repetetive environments to enjoy the truly unique gathering & crafting systems, beautiful artwork, and PvE hunting parties deep in desolate territories. The change to the environments in ARR is staggering. They originally reused a lot of elements, but now the environments are almost completely comprised of unique components giving every part of every area very characterisitic appearance. The UI is now super responsive, sleek and very efficient. New features like integrated gear set switching makes class changes a breeze.

I'm not here to say that everything is perfect. In the quest to make a more accessible MMO, Square Enix removed some of the elements that gave FFXIV some of it's charm and magic. Instant travel via airships killed one of the most memorable elements of FFXIV for me. I remember waiting in Thanalan for the ferry to come and then actually traveling in the boat for 15 minutes across the ocean to Limsa with the rest of the passengers. People could fish off the side, do crafting on deck or just socialize amongst themselves. In the new era of MMOs, a large number of players seem to want instant gratification and everything clearly spelled out for them. A lot can be said for an air of mystique in a world (think of how awesome Dark Souls was the first time you played it), and I think by catering to the masses Square Enix has lost one of the most compelling elements of it's offering. Where I used to feel *very* grounded in the world, instanced dungeons with queues that automatically place you there when a group is formed and all the instant travel have made me feel almost estranged from the world... it doesn't seem as real as it used to.

All that aside, I am really looking forward to beta phase 4 and the new features that will come on release. I am still quite excited to try out the new job system and new classes. If anything Square Enix has shown their dedication to FFXIV by destroying the world and rebuilding it from the ground up to address the shortcomings of the original. Addition of PvP elements which has always been something the FFXI community shunned really shows the devs are willing to go out of their comfort zone to give the community the freedom to play how they want. I for one am really looking forward to seeing what will come from a team this artistic and dedicated. One thing for sure, they deserve far more than what you have given them in this article.

OPINION. PIECE. And I'll say no more on the subject other than I'm happy for those that had no issues - genuinely.

It's my opinion that maybe you should write about the game next time.

Opinion piece, we get it, but you have to understand, being a writer for a major online gaming website that some people will give your words weight. Perhaps if you'd ranted for 4 paragraphs about how outdated and clunky their registration system is, and then elaborated a little a bit about how at least SOME positive changes have been made to the game, it wouldn't have been so bad to read, but the fact of the matter is you spent 9 paragraphs beating a dead horse. SE's User management system has always been terrible. I'm sure you remember back in FFXI where you had to buy content ID's, which were separate from all other numbers you had to have on hand, including your POL ID and password. We get it. Try changing the title of your article perhaps to "FFXIV: SE's User Management System still FUBAR" so people won't think your article is actually about the game it's self, because it's not.

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