In the case of FFXI which is on the brink of oblivion subscription-wise, you really don't want to make a FFXI-2 just on the historic record alone.
So, your argument is that rather than making a "sequel" to FFXI, which peaked at more than half a million regular players and still has more than a hundred thousand paying $13/month nine years later, SE was smart to do something completely different and end up with a game that has thirty thousand people playing for free six months after launch?
And, while I doubt anything this generation will ever beat WoW's 12 million, I'm not sure it's useful to say that a "sequel" pulling in more than a million subscribers very shortly after launch did worse. It's factually true, but not a meaningful comparison because Rift is still a wild, runaway success by modern standards. It's accurate that the count-on-the-fingers-of-one-hand MMO sequels have never done better than the original, but the statement "no one should make a sequel because they never do well" doesn't follow from that at all. If all game designers had gone with that logic, the folks at Trion wouldn't be dancing and singing right now, and FFXIV would still be terrible. "Be original" is clearly not a successful MMO design philosophy in the current generation of games, regardless of how three sequels in the last eight years have done.
I've said it before, but the reason Rift is a fluke is because it's chipping off a 12 million subscriber block. No other subscription-based MMO has ever pulled off the kind of numbers WoW has, and while Blizzard wouldn't be happy with a million subs for one of their sequels, just about everyone else would.
But you and I both know that for SE to make a WoW-clone would be insane. That's not a strategy that will work for them or their customers.
And while making a veritable sequel to a 12 million sub game works for Rift, it wouldn't work out so well for a 250k sub game. FFXI-2 is a guaranteed failure.
What SE has in its pocket are millions upon millions of Final Fantasy fans, many of whom have never played FFXI. These are the people who bought a PS3 just to play FF13 on. So, it's no small wonder that the clear choice for FF14's PS3 release is to appeal to the Final Fantasy crowd in general. That's where the money is. That's where the enthusiasm is. All they have to do is tap it.
Edited, Apr 24th 2011 3:52pm by ForceOfMeh