Still from Final Fantasy VII Remake

The World of Final Fantasy Is Experiencing a Surge of New Players

The Japanese role-playing game series is more popular than ever and, while this may be good news in most circumstances, the game's servers cannot keep up with this influx of players.
January 5, 2022
8 mins read

Final Fantasy is a role-playing game that was first released in 1987. Since then, its franchise has released 15 games and countless remakes and expansion packs. While most of the series’s games follow a strict storyline with certain options already embedded into the game for players to go through, Final Fantasy XIV deviates from this formula as an open-world MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game).

Square Enix, also known for other popular video game franchises like Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest, is a Japanese entertainment conglomerate and video game company founded in 2003. However, when Final Fantasy was first released, it was done so under the company Square (it later merged with Enix, forming the aforementioned Square Enix).

Although the franchise has not released any new games (or movies) since Final Fantasy XV in 2016, its game developers have been working on projects new and old alike. The Final Fantasy VII Remake was released in 2020 and is also one of the better-known games in the series due to its film adaptation. The film, titled “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,” was released in 2005 and has an IMDb score of 7.2. The movie follows popular characters Tifa and Cloud as they struggle to see eye to eye. Despite the film’s mixed reception, fans are still hoping to see an announcement for a sequel since the storyline for the Final Fantasy VII Remake is not quite finished, reflecting the game developers’ endless supply of work.

Another example of the endless amount of work done by Final Fantasy’s game designers can be seen in the expansions for Final Fantasy XIV. Since its release in 2010, the game has seen four major expansions: Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers and Endwalker — not including when the game was relaunched in 2013 as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. While the game is now seeing such a surge in players that the game servers are struggling to keep up, the game did not do so well on its initial release.

In 2010, Final Fantasy XIV was released as the franchise’s first open-world MMORPG and has since become available for Windows, Mac, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. The game had many issues and players had many complaints, so the game was quickly dropped. In 2013, however, the game was relaunched under new designers and all or at least most of the issues in the first release were fixed, encouraging new players to give the series a chance.

Now with the recent release of Endwalker, the fourth expansion pack, even more players have gone running to buy the open-world game. Unfortunately, the game’s servers could not handle the new wave of players.

In the summer of 2021, Final Fantasy XIV was marked 60% off on Steam for the site’s Summer Sale event. With this big of a discount, many new players couldn’t turn down the opportunity to buy the game and try it out. This sale was not the only driving factor behind the game’s increased sales. At the same time as the sale, a popular streamer by the name of Asmongold, who is known for playing World of Warcraft, also streamed his first time playing Final Fantasy to an audience of 200,000 on Twitch. Because of this, Final Fantasy is believed to have received several of its players from World of Warcraft.

Like Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft has had issues with its gameplay, albeit for much longer. The game recently released a new expansion pack that users hoped would fix the issues but it was unfortunately a letdown, unlike the former’s relaunch.

Just days after the release of Endwalker, Final Fantasy had to remove the new expansion pack from shelves due to ongoing issues with servers and the new wave of players clogging them. After the release of its newest expansion pack, the game was reported to have over 24 million users. Wait time for the game was reported to have been over 90 minutes and players who sat waiting were even kicked off if the game believed the user was no longer active.

Final Fantasy, like World of Warcraft, is a paid subscription game. Each player must set up an account with Square Enix and then pay for a set number of days, with longer subscriptions earning higher discounts. But with the long wait time to merely play the game, players were less motivated to pay for a subscription. While Square Enix is giving new users a free trial and will extend this free trial to other new users as the game servers become more usable, this does not apply to already existing accounts.

Final Fantasy XIV was put back on sale on Dec. 21, 2021, as servers were fixed. Another fix is also set to be released on Jan. 4 to further accommodate the influx of new users as the game returns to shelves.

While the most recent release has solved a lot of the issues players have had with the game, the same cannot be said about the awful in-game housing situation. Screen Rant recently reported, “According to the Final Fantasy XIV Census conducted in April 2020, the most populated American Server, Marlboro, had 114,208 characters created. Currently, there are only 17,280 apartments and 5,760 houses per server.” Players were not likely to get a hold of any land and if they did, they had to continuously log into the game every 45 days or be evicted from their household and lose all items placed in said household. Unfortunately, Endwalker hasn’t done much to fix this problem. While it was said that a new housing lottery would now be implemented to try and help solve this issue, this has been reported to be of no help at all.

As Square Enix and Final Fantasy XIV developers have been able to fix all the issues in the game so far, the housing situation is likely to get resolved — it is only a matter of when and how. Square Enix is not always working on just Final Fantasy XIV; as mentioned before, the Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 is still expected. Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier, a mobile battle royale game, was released in November 2021. Final Fantasy XVI was set to be released in early 2021 for PlayStation 5 but has been pushed back due to unforeseen problems caused by COVID-19.

Illusion Ventura, Whittier College

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Illusion Ventura

Whittier College
English and Psychology

I am an adventurous person trying to find my way in the world. I love reading and writing and try to do as much as I can in my free time.

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