Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Can Final Fantasy XIV Handle The Influx?

At a time when games like World of Warcraft and EVE Online are losing players, one game is experiencing an insane increase in business. Square Enix even had to suspend sales of Final Fantasy XIV in North America over the weekend. While composing this post, none of the European servers was allowing the creation of new characters.

Server status for Europe at 1930UTC on 13 July 2021

Square Enix has done a lot to promote the game. On 14 May, the Endwalker expansion was announced at Fanfest. On 25 May, the Playstation 5 version of FFXIV launched. The game is cross-platform, which means an increase of console players also affects the login queues of PC players. That news coincided with a 60% off sale on both Shadowbringers and the Complete Edition from 25 May to 9 June. Square Enix repeated the 60% off sale during the Steam Summer Sale held from 24 June to 8 July. 

A big jump on Steam

One of the notable factors funneling players from WoW to FFXIV are the WoW streamer refugees. Asmongold, the top WoW Twitch streamer, gets credit for a lot of the interest, but he was following the trend, not creating it. In addition to the WoW refugees, Square Enix tied a mount promotion to subscribing to established FFXIV Twitch streamers. By purchasing 4 subscriptions from one or more of a list of 59 streamers, players can receive the Fat Black Chocobo mount. Apparently higher ranking on Twitch translates to higher interest in a game.

The tipping point seems to be the current free login campaign running from 9 July to 23 August. The campaign allows former players to return to the game and play for two weeks. Gee, Square Enix opens a promotion for returning players, and the first weekend of the promotion the servers are full. Coincidence?

For right now, new players may need to create their characters in off-hours. Not only to play with their friends, but just to play at all. Not an ideal situation for Square Enix. The game of the hour is FFXIV, and new players can't play. We'll have to see what Square comes up with for a solution.

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