PS3 will limit FFXIV likely the same way PS2 did. Trust me. It won't be as severe (initially) in terms of graphics, but let's examine the following limitations that PS3 simply can't escape:
1.) Control. Square has to design a control system that fits on a game pad. While they did an admirable job with FFXI, I think we can all agree the UI could be smoother, the ability to 'jump' wouldn't have been bad, and certainly a mouse-control system for the camera could have been a lot more fluid than using the arrow keys. However, none of this was possible, b/c they had to make it playable on a game pad.
2.) Development time. This is more of an issue with multi-platform design than an issue with the PS3 or PC specifically. Any content updates are going to require more bug testing than normal. This slows down development time and makes it more expensive to do. A single-platform MMO doesn't have the same expense, which enables faster content updates for a better cost.
3.) Textures. This touches on the amount of RAM the PS3 has available to it. Kinda laughable when someone said that it's not the amount of RAM that matters, it's how you use it. I can think of a similar situation to that ;P but the point is, PS3 is the equivalent of a 1" long "member". A modern PC is, in comparison, 6". I don't care how you use the 1", it simply can't match the texture resolution and capability of a PC's RAM. There's also space limitations. Square isn't going to let this game get over 20GB is my hunch; doing so would alienate PS3 users who didn't have the higher end HDD. If that's not the case, this last point doesn't apply; but if it is, it's going to limit, by space if nothing else, the high-res texture availability. If you doubt they get that big, check out the Cinematic Mod for Half-life 2. The latest one is a file download close to 10 GB. In textures. For a shooter with far less diverse environments than an MMO will have.
4.) Graphics in general. This won't "appear" to be a limitation when it's first released. It's not going to be an end-all of video game graphics, MMOs never are, nor should we expect them to be. But it's going to struggle to even rival Conan is my hunch. Multiple people erroneously buy into Sony's hype that the PS3 is an immensely powerful beast. This just isn't accurate, and the telling sign is the price point. Consider the following logic: add in a monitor, peripherals, all the stuff that normally comes with a PC, and a PS3 would cost, oh, $800. WELL below a top-notch gaming PC. Now let's factor in the over-used excuse that Sony is selling these units at a loss. This may well be true -- but we know it isn't a $1,000 loss per unit, or anything remotely that high. The actual amount is about $300, tops. http://www.engadget.com/2006/11/16/sony-losing-mad-loot-on-each-ps3/
for reference. So consider this system, let's be extra generous and add on another $200 for the skeptics, roughly price-equivalent to a $1200 PC. Which we know pales in comparison to a full-fledged gaming PC. The reason is that the hardware *just isn't that good*. The only reason it's capable of even doing what it has already is because it's designed to do one thing only, and that's games. But I can guarantee, by the time FFXIV is released in 2010, PCs probably will already be releasing games beyond what a PS3 can handle. By 2015, when the PS3 is well on its way following the dodo, a PC will make it look like a pocket calculator. And Square has shown no stomach for releasing expansions that are "next-gen console (in XIV's case, PS4) or PC only", which would eliminate the problem entirely and allow graphical updates in newer areas for those with better hardware.
5.) Modifications. Look at the healthy mod community WoW has; talk to almost any WoW player, and they wouldn't adventure without their favourite pack of mods. Even if it's just colouring the UI differently, or arranging it to fit your personal preference on the screen, these mods are not possible with a console release simply because Square likes "even playing fields". This is a very fair position, too, and in FFXI I've avoided even Windower, let alone botting. Yet, if this were PC only, so everyone had access to mods? How much might the game benefit? From ideas, if not polished, finished products?
As an aside, directed more at the OP: the reason I, and others I know, are worried about PS3 limitations, is not because of current capability. A PC is capable of more right now, but games will never be quite at the cutting edge, or they'd have no audience. The concern is that Square will show undying support for a dying console 5 years down the road. The PS2 for FFXI is not a limitation; it's Square's refusal to release PC and next-gen console only expansions and content. If Square had made, say, ToAU and WotG next-gen only, or even just WotG, there would be no complaints. PS2 users could still play, and most would upgrade. The concern is that Square will follow the same course in XIV as they have in XI, which would end up being a limitation 6 years from now. Guaranteed.
Edit to correct patently false statement by a previous poster:
sigh, none of you have a processor better than the cell processor. Like I said, games are limited to using only part of it. Specifically 6 of them which run around 3.2 GHz each. But if a game doesnt utilize a multi-threaded archiecture it can't take advantage of this. On top of that, most games hardly use the processor and rely heavily on the video card (at least on a PC). None of you have a computer better than a PS3. PS3s are even being linked together for super computing. So no computer destroys the cell chip today. The only reason you dont even see cell chips in your computers is because its created by IBM not Intel. Which means an entirely different archieture, and lots of reprogramming no body wants to do.
The PS3 has a *single* main core operating at 3.2GHz. The SPEs are entirely different. It's not a "6-core" processor with all of them operating at 3.2GHz; the cooling alone would be impossible. The SPEs (Synergistic Processing Elements) do much of the hard labour; the 3.2GHz core is the main element that allocates tasks to them. The reason it can be used in super computing is because the task types are different. SPEs can't do every task under the sun; the more of them able to be used, the better performance PS3 will get. But the peak performance will never be hit outside very specialized (re: non-game) situations. Edited, Jun 6th 2009 12:32am by VhailorEmp