Final Fantasy 14's game director doesn't like the drama surrounding World of Warcraft's player exodus

Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker
(Image credit: Square Enix)

It's no secret that Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida is a huge fan of World of Warcraft, citing it as one of his biggest influences. While Final Fantasy 14's infamous redemption story certainly saved it from ruin, Yoshida doesn't enjoy seeing fans credit Final Fantasy 14's recently skyrocketing player counts to a supposed exodus of World of Warcraft players following Blizzard's high-profile missteps with its long running MMO.

While many high-profile WoW streamers have coincidentally made the switch, nobody is making people quit World of Warcraft to play Final Fantasy 14, Yoshida said. "[And they're not saying that] because you started Final Fantasy 14, you can never go back to WoW, you know? I'm afraid I'm not really fond of that trend of people saying, 'Oh this person has moved over to such and such game.'"

Yoshida's comments come in the wake of many high-profile WoW influencers taking a break from the MMO to play Final Fantasy 14 instead. Most notably, WoW streamer Asmongold has spent increasing amounts of time playing Final Fantasy 14, alongside other prominent YouTubers like JesseCox, BellularGaming, and husband-wife duo Taliesin and Evitel. Naturally, that would inspire their audiences to maybe try Final Fantasy 14 too.

Aside from the immense amount of work Final Fantasy 14's development team put into rebuilding the MMO, the game also benefited from a meme-worthy free trial pitch and excitement around the Endwalker expansion coming in November. But it's also hard to ignore that many are making the swap in the wake of Blizzard's multiple sexual discrimination lawsuits. And then there's complaints with World of Warcraft itself, which has sunk into one of its most arduous content droughts thanks to underwhelming updates and delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Yoshida thinks a lot of players are making too big a scandal out of it. In an interview with PC Gamer, he said he's happy people are so passionate about the games and other media they engage with, including Final Fantasy 14. What concerns him is the mentality that fans of a game have to be completely dedicated to it.

"But I also worry about some of these people getting a little too enthusiastic to the point where they are sort of binding people down, chaining people down and going into the community and almost attacking those people who want to take a break sometimes and maybe enjoy a different game and chain them down in that way," Yoshida said.

Yoshida added that leaving a game like World of Warcraft and revisiting it some time later might allow players to "re-recognize some of the items they had taken for granted." For Yoshida, this even includes Final Fantasy 14 players taking a break from his game to play New World.

"That's wonderful," Yoshida said. "I think it is important that we come in contact with new games. It's a new kind of stimulation, so it keeps us fresh."

Certainly Yoshida has reflected plenty on his time with other MMOs. He cites World of Warcraft along with Everquest, Ultima Online, and Dark Age of Camelot as some of his biggest gaming addictions.

It's not the first time Yoshida has had to graciously bat away cynical comparisons between World of Warcraft's fall from grace and Final Fantasy 14's redemption arc.

"The hard work we've been putting into Final Fantasy 14 did pay off," Yoshida said in a July 2021 livestream. "But this whole conversation about surpassing WoW is the wrong conversation to have and it's honestly irritating."

In that July 2021 interview, Yoshida later responded to the interviewer's hopes that he'd say Final Fantasy 14 is "the best" by stating, "If I was that type of guy, we'd miss our footing on the way and 14 wouldn't be loved by so many people."

Final Fantasy 14 has enjoyed no shortage of positive coverage and growing player counts. On Steam, the game hit a peak concurrent of about 47,000 players back in July, which doesn't even include the dedicated launcher or console players.  

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.