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SE Shuts Down Servers – An Opportunity?

March 18, 2011

The devastation in the wake of Japan’s earthquake/tsunami and ongoing structural issues have prompted many Japanese based companies to shift or cease operations temporarily.  Square-Enix is one of the major ones making news with their shutdowns of both of their Final Fantasy MMOs for an open-ended period of time.

While press releases from Square-Enix have indicated that both services could be back up and running as early as March 20th, these are far from solid restart dates for either game.  With electricity concerns and rolling black outs in effect for much of Japan, this time frame could be pushed back.  Now the question is, when that day comes that the power company re-stabilizes itself, should Square-Enix flip the switch back on for both games?

We all know that Final Fantasy XI is going to get turned back on as soon as it possibly can be.  Even with a considerable amount of XI’s playerbase leaving the game since last year’s FanFest and its announcement that the level cap would be increased by 24 levels.  Many players were excited by this news and many other players were dismayed and left the game.  Reports have the game’s subscription levels dropping from the 500,000 mark to around 100-125,000 currently.  While this is a significant loss over the course of a calendar year, the game is old, takes very little development dollars and the income greatly outweighs the cost.

Its baby sister however is not doing even that well.  With less than 100,000 boxes for Final Fantasy XIV sold in North America and Collector’s Edition boxes still sitting on store shelves 6 months after it’s release, FFXIV was the biggest flop in the last 5 years of video games.  The game is in its 5th Free Month.  Should SE take this as an opportunity to take the game offline for an extended period of time and do some substantial redesigning and fixing of issues?  Should SE take this as a sign and an excuse to take the game offline permanently?

I honestly do not think SE will keep XIV off longer than XI, but they should.  The game had so much potential and many former XI players and WoW players alike looked forward to the game for 2 years.  Until the day we saw the final open beta push that is.  This is the definition of opportunity.  We should see a closing of the game for at least 6 months and a relaunch.

If not, then we should see an apology and a closure.  Final Fantasy XIV had potential.  It never lived up to it.  It tried to do far too much innovation without innovating things people wanted changed.  The game was never supposed to live in the same MMO market as WoW or Rift.  It is/was a game that was meant to be different from the get go.  It just never made any of its basic game systems the “good” kind of different.

So, Square-Enix look upon this as an opportunity to fix the game and bring it down for a month or two (or six).

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