WoW Disappointment, Plus Twitch, Start Mass Exodus Into Final Fantasy XIV

WoW Disappointment, Plus Twitch, Start Mass Exodus Into Final Fantasy XIV
The virgin World of Warcraft vs the chad Final Fantasy XIV. (Screenshot: Blizzard / Square Enix / Kotaku)

Final Fantasy XIV is having its best month ever.

Yesterday, Square Enix “sold out” of digital copies of Final Fantasy XIV prompting many to ask how could something ostensibly limitless like a digital code run out? Also, new character creation was briefly banned on all North American data centres. Last week, PCGamesN noted FF14 had its highest number of concurrent players on Steam at 47,000. Earlier this week, according to steamdb, the game broke that record amassing 58,000 concurrent players — a metric that doesn’t even account for players using FF14’s native launcher or console players.

Usually when an MMO like FF14 experiences growth like this, it’s tied to the release of an expansion or a patch of new content. FF14’s latest patch, “Death Unto Dawn” was released back in April. So why the hell are my queues 100+ players deep and Limsa Lominsa a thick, impenetrable tangle of Sprouts even more so than usual?

The answer is tied up in three things: a meme, a streamer, and FF14’s biggest competitor, World of Warcraft.

Perhaps the biggest explanation for Final Fantasy XIV’s sudden boom can be traced to Twitch streamer Asmongold. Asmongold is one of WoW’s most popular streamers, or was until on July 3rd, when he traded Azeroth for Eorzea. The move triggered a wave of fans following him around in-game to the combined chagrin and delight of FF14 regulars. The vod of his adventure as a Warrior of Light has since become one of his most popular clips ever earning 2.7 million views. Asmongold said he was committed to seeing FF14 through to its endgame to figure out if it’s worth “wasting your life” on.

Another explanation for FF14’s player bump might be found in World of Warcraft’s story. Back in June, Blizzard released Chains of Domination, WoW’s latest content patch. With it came the Sanctum of Domination raid — an endgame dungeon that confronted players with one of Shadowlands’ and WoW’s overall big-time baddies, Sylvannas Windrunner. The ending cinematic for that raid was a huge let down — an incomprehensible mess of a story that ended on a cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until the next patch in the far flung future. When Blizzard released a video of the raid’s final cinematic on YouTube, the downvotes were more than three times that of the video’s upvotes.

This latest misstep seems to be a lot of players’ final straw, according to Polygon reporter and WoW expert Cass Marshall.

“Fans feel frustrated because they’re on a slow ride through a mystery town with little payoff or explanation,” they said. “The giant cosmic scope and Thanos-level villainy doesn’t help either. There’s stuff to like in Shadowlands, but it’s drowned out under the main plot.”

Though Blizzard boasted that Shadowlands is the fastest selling PC game of all time, there was a 5 million player dip in Blizzard’s monthly active users between Q1 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021. It’s not possible to determine if those were all WoW players or spread out between Blizzard’s other games like Hearthstone and Overwatch, but there does seem to be a general antipathy toward World of Warcraft that Final Fantasy is brilliantly equipped to capitalise on.

The final culprit in the Great Final Fantasy XIV Awakening is the relentless campaign to get new folks to play the game. If you’ve spent any time on social media there is a good chance you’ve come across some meme-ified version of this script:

“Did you know that this critically acclaimed MMORPG has a free trial to level 60 with unlimited playtime and includes the award-winning first expansion Heavensward?”

It is everywhere. In fact, when I asked Square Enix for comment, they didn’t provide player stats or offer reasons why they’re seeing a surge in server populations, a spokesperson merely quoted the meme back to me with a wry smiley emoji. (I also asked WoW PR if they had any comment on player dissatisfaction and they too said nothing, but offered me a code for free game time.)

Mayhaps then, the meme is doing its job.

It helps that Final Fantasy XIV is generally a damn fine MMO with a community that has a reputation for being the best MMOs have to offer. A cursory scroll through the FF14 Reddit has many threads welcoming new players, offering tips, and ex-WoW lifers gushing about the night and day difference. I myself am a reformed WoW player who’s had her entire world rocked by FF14’s engaging and effortless storytelling that doesn’t (yet) seem to rely too much on villian cosmic power creep.

For now, it seems it’s Final Fantasy’s Eorzea and we’re all just living in it. In April, Square Enix announced FF14 amassed 22 million registered players. That bonkers number is only going to grow when FF14’s newest expansion Endwalker releases on November 23.

Comments

  • The FFXIV community is far far better than the WoW community. Im playing a Paladin tank and not once in a dungeon have i been kicked or berated for being slow or not pulling enough. People have been more than willing to help if i ask, Ive even been thanked and praised ingame for knowing mechanics of dungeon bosses as a sprout tank.

    I quit WoW during BFA and the blitzchung saga and i have not looked back at all. FFXIV and its wonderful community have cemented that.

    The devs listen to the community and appreciate them, Unlike the WoW devs who ignore the players and spit on them with disdain.

    I strongly believe WoW cannot rescue itself with the current team that runs it. All the people who made WoW when it was great are long gone.

  • Might have to get back into FFXIV at some point, I really didn’t get too far. I’m kind of waiting until they open the Aus servers though.

  • I’ve been hearing from mates who have been playing this since launch that dungeons/raids have gone to shit lately. Maybe they don’t want all that wow crowd?

  • One can only hope this lights a fire under Blizzard’s ass to make some drastic changes.

    Unfortunately, it probably wont even put a meaningful dent in their bottom line so they likely wont change a fuckin’ thing.

    • Maybe if it was JUST Blizz. But Activations control of them is probably the real issue. And the new Blizz CEO is from them…

    • Not likely, Blizzard promised with BFA short comings to have learnt lessons about designing game elements and improving content pipelines to remove bloat and roll out content and hotfixes quicker…

      … then Shadowlands was not forward progress, it was one huge step backwards, with more issues and delays stacked on slow production line.

      • Yeah, I honestly commented even having sat through all the shit myself. It’s unfortunately more wishful thinking than anything.

        Every expansion I’ve been there at launch with a few friends, we’ve all been around since the start of vanilla… And with each expansion the moment we all stop playing again just comes sooner and sooner.

  • The biggest thing for me is going to be the local servers. I’ve disliked the combat/ARR storyline (OH MY GOD IT IS TAKING SO GOD DAMN LONG TO FINISH AND GET TO HEAVENSWARD MINFILIA I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU OR THE OTHER SCIONS), but it’s something I have to slog through to increase my crafting and gathering which appears to have capped out at 50. 🙁

    But yeah, I resubbed a few months ago and it’s been pretty enjoyable (apart from all the focus on being a disciple of war/magic). I’ve been getting by on being a healer, which allows short queues for mandatory group activities to advance the story, and allows me to be out of most AoEs, but man it’s frustrating when you only see a boss telegraph their attack only to discover, after moving out of it, that the server thinks the attack landed about 0.25 seconds after you got to see it.

    • Doing the several days worth of repetitive fetch quests and boring dialogue at the end of ARR to unlock Heavensward ranks as one of my worst experiences in a game. It was sooooo long and boring. I finished them and got to Heavensward but by that time I was completely pissed off and burned out that I stopped playing it. I’ve heard that they’ve trimmed that shit down a little but it’s probably still too much.

    • I think that’s second biggest barrier to FFXIV. I’ve replayed their tighten ARR main quest on a trial account and honestly it’s still a slow crawl

      as for the server issue… yea sadly there’s no way around that until we get Oceanic servers in 2022

  • I’ve actually started playing WoW again while I wait for the aus servers for FF14 to hit. Once that happens I’ll just back into it big time.

  • There is a brilliant YouTube video by Jesse Cox that compares his experiences with both games, and why they are different, and that those differences are fuel for why people are trying FF14 and why some are staying.

    Worth a watch.

  • I was subbed to both but I can totally see why some WoW players left after 9.1 came out. the new 9.1 content is… not exciting, heck if you hated the Mechagon zone you’ll likely hate spending time in Korthia. once you exclude Korthia, well the only thing left is the raid and mega dungeon which isn’t a lot of content left

    • WoW is a themepark MMO that only has 3 rides. Raids, Mythic+ and PvP. One of those rides has the wheels fall of repeatedly, PvP.

      All 3 rides are completely instanced content. The “World” in World of Warcraft is garbage.

      • that’s true, at the end of the day, the open world content exist to help you get into one of those pillars of content

        there’s no sustainability to collecting transmorg or pet battles

  • Perhaps articles like this should be written by someone who’s a bit more informed about the state of WoW? The story is hardly the main issue with retail WoW.

    It’s the game design. Not only are their ideas terrible, but so is their implementation. Ion Hazzicostas and his team repeat the same mistakes over and over whilst simultaneously ignoring any and all feedback. When they do respond to feedback they either “disagree and fuck you” or they make changes begrudgingly, often only going halfway.

    World of Warcraft has been skirting by on doing the absolute bare minimum. Whilst constantly ignoring their player base.

    Hopefully this is a wake up call. But probably not.

    • I don’t think the article really claims it to be the main issue, but I can see it being an issue that finally cracked some people.

      2021 is not proving to be a better year then 2020 and with some people chomping for story beats only to get… whatever this cliffhanger is, probably led them to just go “fk it”. I highly doubt Blizzard will release 9.2 by year end so there’ll be no resolution till at least Q1 2022

      as for FFXIV surge being a wake up call… yea I doubt it, Blizzard isn’t the Blizzard of old anymore

    • Story was uninteresting enough that I didn’t even get to level 60 or whatever the cap is. Jailer is very boring, conceptually and in execution. Maybe he got more interesting at level cap, I don’t know.

  • Ive never been one to say that people must be fired and kicked to the curb, but the something needs to be done about the current Dev and Cdev teams, On gameplay side of things the some of the devs have just been going out and making changes just to spite the playerbase, its like if the player base hates a quest and finds away to deal with it through other legal means ( ie flying) that dev takes kit a an affront to their lives.

    And on the Cdev side of things, well just look at who site the storyline had been since the very end of legion when the this current team took over. it doesnt help that current Lead of Cdev found GoT season 8 to best writting ever

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