It's a very different sort of game from MMOs a lot of people are used to, just like FFXI was. So for a lot of people who might have been interested in this game, and been long time players of other MMOs, the sheer different approach the game takes on so many things might be jarring enough to make them give up quickly and get frustrated.
For one thing, you really need to use a controller, the keyboard controls are terrible, and will remain so until they unbind the arrow keys from a mandatory lock on the menu system and allow us to use them for the camera as in FFXI. There is no mouse look, so most people will freak out and get confused quickly.
I've rescued my girlfriend from another MMO (I won't be specific) and she's not at all used to playing games with a controller. That being said she's getting used to it and enjoying the game quite a bit despite being so different from other MMOs.
Big Issues for hardcore players: There's just not a lot of content, there will be more in retail, I guarantee you that, how much more I can't be sure. That being said, this is vanilla FFXIV, no patches, no expansions. Look at how much absurd amount of crap there is to do in FFXI entering year 9, and then look back at what FFXI looked like at launch. I trust SE to add a good deal of interesting content every 3 months like they did with Vana'Diel, I wouldn't expect end game until perhaps the ps3 launch, or a patch or two after that. Which I am fine with, it gives me some time to get people together, get leveled up, craft and explore the world, and wait for PS3 version so my friends without great PCs can join us. Also there's the surplus and guildleve stuff, it makes it impossible to bang out nonstop exp, I don't care about this at all, I might get annoyed once or twice, but I'm not in high school anymore, (like I was 9 years ago) and so I appreciate the fact that if I only play 2-4 hours every 1-2 days I won't be eons behind.
Big Issues for casual players: Requires an investment of 30-40$ on a controller (if you don't have one) and the actual acknowledgement that it will be better with one. SE should have bundled the game with a controller, honestly. This game does not have the trail-of-cookies (yes cookies, not breadcrumbs) approach that games like WoW are well known for. It doesn't hold your hand as well, and you don't feel like you're making as much progress because there aren't 50 different meters constantly going up as you progress.
All of those things said, the world is beautiful, the weather, the characters, the costuming, architecture and the animations. Stills don't do the game justice, it looks gorgeous in motion. The combat is fun and engaging, especially in groups. There is an amazing amount of depth to the world from what I have seen so far, and the music and cutscenes are beautiful and compelling. The writing is good so far, with a good deal of humor and wit. This game appeals to a totally different audience than games like WoW and Aion, and although there are some of us that may exist in the center of that vendiagram(sp), there aren't many, and those that are on the other side of the fence will be frustrated when they try this game out.
If they do want new customers they should try advertising the game. Like they did with 12 and 13.
That would be wise from a business standpoint. This is SE we're talking about though. They tend to do things a little backwards.
They're already going to recoup a lot of the initial investment with the pre-order and initial sales to the hardcore in all 3 regions. (If the estimated sales figures of around 500-600k+ over all 3 regions are accurate) It would actually probably be a better idea for them to hold off on major television and mainstream media advertising until the PS3 release. Not a lot of people have PCs that can handle this game, but a lot of people have a PlayStation 3, or can buy one much cheaper. Heavy advertising in mainstream would probably just result in a lot of people getting frustrated that their PC can't run the game. Also around that time the game will have more content and less issues, which is good for the casual consumer. Edited, Sep 13th 2010 2:04pm by RamseySylph