FFXIV - Looking Forward to a Niche MMORPG and Its Community
With one day left to go until Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn kicks off its early access, I am downright bored. This past week has been a test in patience, and those of you who played during last weekend's Phase 4 beta and enjoyed your time with the game are likely in the same boat.
It's like getting that one thing you really want for your birthday, then being grounded from it for a week because your parents are jerks. Everything else just feels empty. Is this what the beginning of addiction feels like?
Much ado about community
This is something I feel needs to be put out there: Final Fantasy XIV is one of the best I've dealt with in years.
Here you have all these people, some burned by 1.0 and others completely new to the game, who are far more polite than what you would expect from an MMO community. The people talking in /shout are generally nice, the people who actually talk to you out in the field aren't doing so to troll you, and the fans you find on the official forums or Twitter are some pretty level-headed and polite people. It just blows my mind.
I used to believe that the TERA community mid-last year (while the game was still pay to play) was pretty nice. The global chat channel wasn't great, but the people you would actually meet on your travels tended to be very nice. FFXIV's community totally blows the old TERA community out of the water in terms of pure friendliness.
None of this is to say there are not the odd bad apples about. Uncouth teenagers and plain ol' jerks are bound to be around, but the fact that the majority (or even a large part) of the community does not fit either of these categories is comforting.
Let's be serious for a minute
It feels weird to go into Final Fantasy XIV as other promising MMORPGs are on the horizon.
Over the next six months fans are going to have to come to accept that the game isn't for everyone. The Elder Scrolls Online, WildStar, and EverQuest Next are all likely to have a larger playerbase than FFXIV, but that does not mean it is not a good game nor does it mean it won't be a success.
Square Enix's overall goal with this relaunch is to pull in a reasonable long-term playerbase, and they will easily be able to pull that off from what I've played thus far and have seen to be in the works. Final Fantasy XI is their most profitable game of all time and it has never been in direct competition with other MMORPGs -- it still maintains a small, tight-knit, and dedicated community even today. Square Enix is aiming for stability, and that is all the community can really hope for.
This all sounds a bit gloomy, but it's important to keep all of the above in mind. FFXIV is a niche title, even under the Final Fantasy moniker. Having fun with the game is what matters, not whether or not it pulls in over a million subs.
A last thought
It feels really nice to be able to play a slower MMO in this day and age, and it feels even better that so many of the people I will be playing with are looking for the same things I am. We don't exactly get the hardcore experience with FFXIV (there has to be a mid-point these days) but we do get a slower, more character and story-driven experience to share with like-minded people.
It's rare that this type of game comes around in today's market, and it is just odd that it is an MMORPG. I am by no means complaining, but in a weird way it gives me hope that people who enjoy the types of games I do haven't all migrated from gaming to do better things with their time. They are still here and they are still willing to spend money -- and that in itself brings a smile to my face.