Now, I do honestly see an exception to this: staying close to friends. If that is your reasoning, say no more; I absolutely understand.
Good points made, and My experience was the same as yours in XI. I started at NA PS2 release, and in no way did I feel handicapped.
The quote above hits the nail on the head for a lot of the frustration, honestly. With FFXIV being the "spiritual successor" to FFXI, a LOT of existing LSes are (or were) planning to head to the new game together. Considering we have several hundred thousand players playing XI right now, the staggered release can potentially affect the plans of a Lot of SE subscribers.
We also have a sizable contingent of former players that had planned on joining back with friends at XIV's release. Remember, we didn't see XI's numbers significantly deline until the E3 09 reveal of XIV, so it stands to reason at least Part of the exodus is from people deciding to take a break until XIV drops. I kind of fit in this group. My wife and I left XI several years ago in anticipation of the birth of our daughter. Knowing that XIV (then codenamed "Rapture") would be coming down the road, we planned on getting back with our old pals then. Once XIV was officially announced, we started putting the plan in motion. A year later, we have nearly 20 people (from XI in most cases) anxious to join up... except a little over half were going to use PS3s. I don't know how many will, or even can, get the necessary hardware together, but I've already heard from a couple that won't. Words can't describe the frustration I feel at that.
Then, there's the evolving nature of the MMO community. Nowadays, people anticipate these games for years ahead of time. They frequent forums such as this one. They make friends while going over every minutiae of news and eventually, they make plans. There isn't a single fansite unaffected by this new segregation of the player base. There are several major fansites with whole forums devoted to LS/Company recruitment. Many of those "groups in waiting" have formed websites, elected officers, formed bonds
. Few of those will go unaffected by the recent news.
In your post you said this was a reason you could easily understand, so I'm not taking you to task or anything.... you nailed it. But XIV is an MMO that people were planning mass migrations toward at a level we don't commonly see. I believe people are thinking of this as a rare case. I'm betting there's a lot more people affected by this (poor) decision than most give credit for. It may be more of the rule, than the exception, for this MMO.
By the way, while I don't generally think of it as a primary reason for most, I also understand the desire people have to step into a new game without everything detailed, without high levels running around, without experienced party members detailing strategies beforehand, and without job/gear predjudices firmly in place. Its FUN to be a part of an MMO on day one and assist in the discovery of its secrets. Losing that ability, when they had been assured for so long they'd have that option, is definitely a valid reason for frustration.