Final Fantasy 14 had quite the 2021, with record player numbers and interest culminating in the winter launch of Endwalker (opens in new tab): An expansion that proved so successful Square Enix had to take the remarkable step of removing the game from sale. In fact it's now been a month (opens in new tab) and you still can't buy it.
Producer and director Naoki Yoshida has written a new blogpost (opens in new tab) addressing what's been going on, and explaining what the developers are doing about it: The short version is, opening up a tonne of new servers across the globe. Over the next year there will be new data centers dedicated to the game opening in Europe, Japan, North America and Oceania, which Yoshida believes will "fundamentally address the problem." Some are basically ready to go, while others are scheduled for later in the year.
"Once again, I wish to apologize for the delays to server expansion caused by the global semiconductor shortage," writes Yoshida. "[...] however, we believe this server expansion is a significant step forward in providing players the best gaming experience possible in FFXIV. Work on bolstering the servers will continue well into 2023, expending a vast amount of financial resources and manpower, but we will do our utmost to ensure this endeavor has no negative impact on your ability to play, so we would appreciate your support while you continue on your adventures."
Yoshida goes on to say that players should expect some announcements at the end of February and another Letter from the Producer.
Due to the rollout of new servers, and a settling down of the congestion around Endwalker's launch period, Yoshida says that "we will be resuming digital sales starting on January 25, 2022 [...] while some may consider this decision to resume sales to be premature, we ask for your understanding in this matter." He adds that the free trial, which is also currently disabled, should also return once the game's servers are a little more stable.
Yoshida also took aim at some of the criticism he and the team had faced for the problems around Endwalker's launch: Or, more specifically, the manner in which it was expressed. During a livestream (as spotted by My Daily News Flash, via Kotaku) Yoshida talked about how criticism of the team's mistakes can often turn abusive, which he believes in turn encourages other players to be more abusive.
Yoshida's remarks were as follows, though bear in mind this is a machine translation (he was speaking Japanese on the livestream). "The abusive remarks are really what I want to stop. I think my mentality is among the strongest in Japan, but that doesn't mean it's the same for everyone."
The abuse was apparently particularly bad when Endwalker's release was delayed. "It's an analogy I often hear, but if you leave a damaged car in downtown New York, it will become more damaged: Psychologically people feel it's OK to do more damage, because it's already been damaged by others."
"If I have one request from me it's this: Before pressing enter, I'd be happy if you can imagine the face of an unknown developer beyond the screen [...] with all the staff have done so far working on FF14... I'm not asking for compliments because there are mistakes, but it would be helpful if people thought about how to convey their feelings."
There are, of course, plenty of Final Fantasy 14 fans who are taking the state of the game and the problems with the right attitude. Plenty expressed frustration with the queue times when we asked about their experiences, but felt the game and Endwalker's far-reaching new storyline was worth it in the end: Soon enough, new players should be able to find out why the game is enjoying such enormous success.