Final Fantasy 14's blacklisting functionality is getting an overdue overhaul: 'it is time we implement features to protect everyone's experience'

A female mi'qote smiling in Final Fantasy 14
(Image credit: Square Enix)

With expansion Dawntrail around the corner, there are some big changes coming to Final Fantasy 14. Some of these were outlined in a 14-hour livestream that took place over the weekend, and one in particular stood out to me: an overhaul to how blacklisting players works.

The MMO's blacklist feature is notorious for being pretty weak. Currently, all the blacklist does is prevent you from seeing any messages from the person you blocked, as well as hiding any party finders you're hosting. It does little in the way of preventing any actual stalking or harassment that can unfortunately take place—blacklisted players are still cool to enter your player housing and, if you were friends prior to the blocking, it won't actually remove you from their friend list. 

That's looking to change in Dawntrail, with director and producer Naoki Yoshida going through some of the additional measures being implemented later this year. Blacklisting is set to be looking a lot more robust, with the addition of a separate mute list continuing to serve the current blacklist's purpose.

"We have so many players now that use this game as sort of a second world," Yoshida said according to a translation over on the Final Fantasy 14 Discord. "I think it is time we implement features to protect everyone's experience."

Messages sent by the blacklisted player will still shoot off into the void, but additionally their character model will also be hidden from whoever they've been blocked by. Not only that, but any additional characters made on that person's account will also be invisible—though it's worth noting that this part only applies to any characters who are made from Dawntrail's release onward, and the blacklist will be able to distinguish between ones made pre and post-expansion.

Unfortunately, something that isn't changing is the ability to end up in a dungeon or raid with someone you've blacklisted. "We understand concerns that asked to just prevent matching with those players, but that would make the system a lot more complicated," Yoshida explained during the stream. "Sorry."

If you do somehow end up in a duty with the problem player, the game will show you their character model but their name will be displayed as "Unknown". The chat log will also notify you if they end up typing anything, and you can choose whether or not to see their messages while you're chugging through the dungeon together.

On the flip side, the new mute list will simply prevent messages from being shown, similar to the current blacklist. Player models and names will still be visible, and unlike the blacklist which will be stored server-side, the mute list is stored client-side. "So for most things you will probably use the mute list and if it gets really bad, you will use the blacklist," Yoshida explained.

It's a big step in the right direction for a game that, for its entire lifespan, has had little-to-no protection against harassment. While the current system has been fine and well for smaller issues like rude players, spammers or bots, it's been little more than wet cardboard for bigger issues like stalkers, or old friends turned enemies. Hell, one Tokyo resident was arrested last year for using the game as a key component of a larger stalking campaign against a woman. While there's still more the function could do—despite Yoshida's claims that preventing matchmaking in duties would create a lot more work, I find it work worthy of doing—it's a helluva lot better than what we have now.

A slide from a Final Fantasy 14 livestream about its enhanced blacklist.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The big thing that wasn't mentioned during the stream is whether or not the new blacklist will remove you from the other person's friend list. It's easily one of the biggest oversights of the current system, and allows persistent players to follow you across name changes and server transfers regardless of you blocking them. For me, it'll make-or-break just how worthy these changes are.

For now, I guess we'll have to wait until Dawntrail's release to see. If it's not implemented now, Yoshida's thoughts on our ever-increasing social interactions in videogames might push him to put the extra work in. "I believe a lot of a person's time and life is switching towards a virtual world and will keep going towards that direction," he mused during the livestream. "I've always been wondering and thinking about how these features will look in a virtual world. I've had a lot of philosophical thoughts about these features and personally I would hope people don't feel the need to use them, but I absolutely understand when it gets to a point where you have to."

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.