Since its launch, Final Fantasy XIV has become the anomaly rather than the norm. It holds the honour of being just about the only subscription-based MMORPG launched since World of Warcraft to have any significant and lasting success. While just about every other MMO has gone F2P, FFXIV and WoW have held out. This may not be for forever though, with Final Fantasy XIV game director Naoki Yoshida admitting FFXIV could go free-to-play if it’s what enough fans want.
"That being said, if 80% or 90% of our players are demanding we go free-to-play, then we might need to look at shifting our business model," said Yoshida in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. "But we would also need to change our game design to match that business model. It all depends on what the game design should be based on what our players' needs are."
I have to say I’d be totally onboard with FFXIV going free-to-play. I love what I’ve played of it but anytime I subscribe I immediately regret it as I just don’t have the time to invest to make it worthwhile. There are just too many other games out there to play that I can’t dedicate myself to just one. Being able to dip in and out without a subscription charge, just paying for the bits I need, would be fantastic.
The danger, as ever with F2P, is that the core game suffers for it. It all comes down to the balance of how it’s implemented, although I’m a particular fan of the Elder Scrolls Online model. With ESO you just pay for the content packs you need, while moment to moment gameplay is basically unaffected. This makes it more like traditional DLC than forcing you to pay for an increased level cap of gimping your inventory.
Not that any of this is going to happen for a while. Final Fantasy is nothing less than a huge success, racking up over 10 million cumulative players since launch. By all accounts, those subscribers are a nice little earner for Square Enix, and I’d presume when Yoshida mentions the 80% of players wanting to shift to F2P, he’s talking about active FFXIV subscribers rather than those of us after a freebie.
Would you be more willing to give Final Fantasy XIV a shot if it went F2P? Or would this potentially ruin the MMO? Let us know your thoughts!