Final Fantasy 14’s Director Talks About Reasons For Its Failure And How It Was Fixed
It was a black spot on Final Fantasy’s reputation – until it was reborn.
Naoki Yoshida, director of Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, discussed where the original game went wrong, and how he and his team tried to save and rebuild the whole game from the ground up.
“…that will probably be a big mistake.”
Yoshida, emotional during the conclusion of the FF 14 launch event
Final Fantasy 14 left a bad impression after its initial release. The game gained extremely negative comments from gamers and press alike, up to the extent that it was considered one of the worst games of all time until A Realm Reborn erased it from the list. Several complaints were noted; unstable servers, almost non-existent storyline, numerous bugs and glitches, and lack of content, just to name a few.
He had feared that the game was bound to fail before its gets released. Judging from the player feedback in the beta test, even the game staff thought that the Final Fantasy 14 was not yet ready for an official release.
"When I heard that it was going to go on sale as planned, I thought, that will probably be a big mistake."
Yoshida defined three major issues why the original failed to reach the players’ expectations: excessive graphical quality which resulted to high PC resource usage, the game staff’s inexperience in the MMO industry, and the Square Enix’s mindset on the game’s development.
The initial team was “too obsessed” with graphics quality; as an example, a single flowerpot had the same polygon and shader code line count with a playable character.
To balance the extremely high detail, the original game limited the viewable characters to twenty at any given screen. While it may look great, it defeated the purpose of an MMO; the density of avatars in a virtual town would be something an MMO player would look forward to.
Yoshida then delved into the fact that the team did not consider the changes in the MMO industry since its launch. MMOs were taxing when it came to time and resources, and not many Japanese developers were keen on releasing one. This led to fewer developers and gamers actually playing the genre, leading to the staff’s lack of knowledge and experience.
Despite the problem, the company was able to make Final Fantasy 11 a success. Yoshida said that during the development of FF11, the game staff played EverQuest for at least a year, figuring out what made it work well. He added that it might have been a good if FF 14 underwent the same treatment.
Several years since the release of FF 11, the MMO world had shifted to showcase game content as one of the major aspects to include in future games. FF 14’s goal was to make something ‘different from FF 11’, and team “ended up not with much of anything”.
“They should’ve said. ‘Hey, you go play WoW for a year,’” Yoshida said, referencing World of Warcraft as one of the games that had set the standard of MMOs at that time.
The game director finally commented on Square’s mindset that anything could be solved by a patch – Square believed that they could fix the game’s problems once it goes online, despite having major design flaws from the start.