In a recent interview with PC Gamer, Final Fantasy XIV Director Naoki Yoshida spoke at length about the MMO’s influx of players, and his mixed feelings about World of Warcraft comparisons. At the heart of it all is Yoshida’s consistent refrain that video games are just that: video games. So don’t be weird about them.
World of Warcraft has been in the midst of a major exodus incited by a slow content schedule, which hasn’t been helped by the legal turmoil at Activision Blizzard. Many of the game’s biggest influencers have picked up Final Fantasy XIV in the meantime and their audiences have followed. This massive influx has made FFXIV the most profitable game in the Final Fantasy series, even surpassing its fellow MMO, Final Fantasy XI. To some, this is an obvious win for Square Enix and many have positioned FFXIV as a giant-killer finally defeating the most famous game in the genre. Per PC Gamer’s interview, Yoshida is less than happy about this framing.
When asked about the game’s current relationship to the WoW exodus he said the following, “I’m afraid I’m not really fond of that trend of people saying, ‘Oh this person has moved over to such and such game.’” From Yoshida’s perspective, it’s totally fine to drift from game to game. In the past he has encouraged people to take a break between major updates to Final Fantasy XIV, in what may seem like an odd strategy for the Director of an MMO, but seems to work well. By encouraging his community to take breaks and follow their interests, Yoshida effectively manages audience burnout and the game is all the stronger for it.
As live service and subscription based titles have become even more popular, and even more time consuming, it’s heartening to see a studio produce a video game they’re confident people can spend time away from.
During that same interview with PC Gamer, Yoshida goes on to dissuade his audience from becoming overly committed to the game, “But I also worry about some of these people getting a little too enthusiastic to the point where they are sort of binding people down, chaining people down and going into the community and almost attacking those people who want to take a break sometimes and maybe enjoy a different game and chain them down in that way.”
Yoshida’s relaxed, generous approach is part of what makes him a fan favourite creator. Aside from totally reshaping Final Fantasy XIV from a disastrous mess to one of the greatest MMOs of all time, the man just has some truly immaculate vibes.