Outside of the old guard, Final Fantasy 14 is probably the great success story in contemporary MMOs: continually updated with expansions that delight the playerbase and revitalise its world, telling shared stories that feel meaningful in a way few MMOs manage, and attracting more and more players through word-of-mouth. And this weekend, it got so popular that Square Enix somehow ran out of digital copies.
As spotted by u/Polydopamine (opens in new tab) over the weekend, Square Enix's online store had zero stock of Final Fantasy 14 (though you could join a waiting list), and wasn't allowing players to create new characters on any servers either.
This was as one would expect a temporary blip, and I've checked and the game is now available as a digital edition again, but what it does show is a massive spike in popularity at just around the same time as World of Warcraft is going through some difficulties with its playerbase.
That link between the two games isn't plucked out of thin air: Final Fantasy 14 had a bit of a moment last weekend, hitting its highest-ever all-time concurrent player count on Steam. This was largely attributed to the hugely popular World of Warcraft streamer Asmongold, who decided to try the rival MMO out for the first time while being watched by over 200,000 people (some idiots tried to ruin the fun but, largely, didn't manage it (opens in new tab)).
This is not the first time Final Fantasy 14 has had to temporarily stop taking on new players: there was a big blip during the launch of A Realm Reborn, and smaller ones around other expansions. But on those occasions we're talking about the first days of major expansions. Endwalker isn't due until 23rd November.
I asked Square Enix for comment on what happened, and was told the company can't comment at this time. The spokesperson did add that they 'shouldn't' have run out of codes, but it's still under investigation.
Massive spikes in playerbase aside, I just love that Square Enix released a trailer for a benchmarking tool (alongside a content roadmap, also viewable through that link). It's a fairly good benchmarking tool as these things go but c'mon.
Finally: if you just can't get enough Final Fantasy 14 into your life, there's a cookbook coming. I'm not joking. It'll have a foreword from the game's director and producer Naoki Yoshida, while "Gorgeous photos of finished recipes help ensure success!"
Apparently this is a Final Fantasy XIV Cookbook. Contains over 70 recipes https://t.co/PQ3Q2PHH7yhttps://t.co/7xkoajSItf pic.twitter.com/EJRb5oRaOAJuly 9, 2021
"This tome provides numerous tips on how to make the most of your ingredients," says the blurb. "Start your day with Farmer's Breakfast, a very famous and simple-yet-delightful dish; savor the Knight's Bread of Coerthas; dive into La Noscea's Rolanberry Cheesecake, and many more."
Well, PC Gamer knows one person who'll have their pre-order in (opens in new tab).