Originally scheduled for release in mid-June, Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers’ update 5.3 is being pushed back several weeks due to issues stemming from the covid-19 crisis. In a letter to the community, game director Naoki Yoshida detailed the difficulties involved with managing MMO development during a global pandemic.
Update 5.25, which introduced new relic hunts to the massively multiplayer online game among other new features, released earlier this week, but only just barely. According to Yoshida, development of the incremental update was largely completed during the 5.2 patch cycle, so workers who were still able to work from home or come to the office safely were able to implement finishing touches and get the update out the door.
Now Japan has officially declared a state of emergency, so ongoing development is more difficult. Developers are working from home. Servers are being maintained remotely to keep the game running. Work in Japan continues, but slowly. And it’s not just about Japan. As Yoshida says in his letter, development on Final Fantasy XIV is a global effort. Lockdowns around the globe are affecting the delivery of graphical assets created in East Asia, North America, and Europe. Lockdowns in Europe are causing delays in recording new voiceover for the update. There are many moving parts involved in creating a Final Fantasy XIV patch, and all of them are being slowed by the pandemic.
Yoshida’s letter includes an apology to players for the delay. It shouldn’t, but it does.
We are terribly sorry for the disappointment this may cause our players, as we know you look forward to new patches. However, it is also important to prioritise the physical and mental health of our development team, without whom we would never be able to release the quality updates and features you expect from FFXIV, so we ask for your understanding as we adjust our schedule in accordance with the situation.
I speak for all Final Fantasy XIV players (except for the horrible ones) when I say Yoshi-P, dude, you have our understanding. Take care of yourself and your team. We can wait.