Let's face it, no one is going to wait another 6 months to a year while FFXIV gets to where SE and the customer's want it to be.
I disagree with this train of thought.
Infrastructure wise, this game is very close to where it needs to be. Yes, there will still be lots of room for making improvements, but that's the nature of MMOs.... there are always improvements happening.
All this game really needs is content, and it's not going to take six months for that to arrive. Heck, it probably won't even take two more weeks. I think the reason the servers are slowly filling up again is people are returning to the game and realizing they're on the forefront of the building wave... it's as if THIS is launch, only we have the opportunity to get a head start.
If it really took another six months for the game to be enjoyable, then yeah, I'd totally agree with this statement... but the game is already enjoyable, and it's getting more and more enjoyable with every update. At Yoshi-P's pace, we'll have 12 more updates over the next six months, and the game is already enjoyable! Still think the game won't be "playable" for most Final Fantasy fans by then?
And yeah, I'm sure some people will try out RIFT, but I stand by my earlier statement that RIFT isn't Final Fantasy. I think RIFT will be competing more for WoW players than FFXIV players, and in the end, I predict WoW players will eventually keep playing WoW, and that RIFT will go the way of Warhammer Online, Aion and all the others.
I think you sorely underestimate how long it takes to develop the kind of content XIV needs in order to salvage a place in the market. You can't count your own personal inclinations as an indicator of what it will take to turn XIV around...you're too much of a fan. You say the game is already enjoyable...the game's population flies directly in the face of that.
The bottom line is this: if XIV's active population now is all they ever get, your precious game will be gone in 6 months. If the active population doubles, your precious game will still be gone in 6 months. When you talk about how people will play it because it's Final Fantasy, you're right. Some people will. But 50000 people aren't going to keep the game afloat.
Before you go off making all these assumptions about Rift's future, you might want to actually try the game. It's easy...open beta starts next week. You fancy yourself something of a journalist, ya? So do the research before making the commentary. Inform yourself. Rift has already sidestepped the issues that led to the disappointing outcomes for WAR and Aion. And along the way you might learn the difference between a game with potential based on what's already in the game, and a game with potential based on the hopes and dreams of fans of the franchise the game borrows its name from.
XIV launched. Estimates on actual retail box sales are in the 500k range.
Very shortly after launch (within one month) XIV experienced a sharp drop in user activity due to people realizing that all the hope about what would happen between the end of open beta and launch was for nothing...nothing had changed. And since then, XIV has continued to hemorrhage players such that many servers, prior to the removal of the world population information, typically had < 1000 players logged in at any given time, and of those logged in a very substantial number were afk bazaars.
The last estimates I heard had XIV's actual, active player population in the 30-50k range.
Actually, total players, active or not, dropped below 40k in October
and we all know the numbers didn't stop falling after that. And the game remains free to play. What might those numbers look like if SE began charging monthly subs?
So somewhere out in the world, assuming the estimates are on point for current active players, there are around 450k people with an FFXIV retail box sitting somewhere in their home who could
return to the game and check things out after a patch here or an announcement there, but the true test will come when SE finally decides to start charging. I think that day is approaching faster than you might think, and I think we both know that will be another dark day in FFXIV's history. A lot of the people who left won't be coming back any time soon, if at all. Another segment might come back from time to time but they won't stick around. And of those who have already left and those who remain, charging monthly subs for the game will get a lot of people off the fence.
People expect more from an MMO than what XIV has to offer, and I think you underestimate the discrepancy between what players expect and what Yoshida can get into the game in the limited amount of time he has before the bean counters have to start making tough decisions. It's not just about what you want and what you like and what you're willing to accept as good enough. You need tens/hundreds of thousands of people who feel the same way you do to keep the game going, and XIV doesn't have the numbers right now. There are some subjective aspects to this. Some opinions, some preferences, and they all have their place. But at the end of the day, what matters is an objective assessment of the $$$, and all the loyal fans who will happily play a sub-par game just because it's Final Fantasy aren't going to be enough to pay the bills. Edited, Feb 11th 2011 8:41pm by Aurelius