If a new player took an hour to familiarize themselves with the game, maybe reading a newbie sticky in XI forums or something, they could knock out level 12 in one sitting. Assuming they stuck to EP-DC mobs they could probably do that in an hour. A new player could unlock subjob, get their license and unlock the quests to start getting abyssea stones on day 1 if they were committed to it. It doesn't take nearly as long as you think.
I just brought a new player into my shell (self-described "casual") and by day 2 he had started stones accumulating.
The game is way more new player friendly than ever before... the linking of AHs means that there is plenty of gear for most jobs up and affordable - and you need less gear to get to the higher levels anyway.
Sorry, but XI is better than it ever was before, anyone who thinks otherwise is wearing rose-coloured nostalgia glasses.
It may not be pulling in hordes of new players - but it has a very healthy playerbase with a lot of returning players coming back to it. Given that it was a niche game to begin with, and is almost 10 years old... It is really hard to imagine it being in a better position than it is.
It would be great if they dropped PS2 support and issued a new expansion and (optional/purchasable) graphical update along with a big "return to Vanadiel" campaign with an aggressive advertising strategy - but to be honest, the game is in transition right now - we just got another level cap raise today - and we will be on our way to 99 by early next year from the looks of it.
Once we've got a steady level cap, that is when I expect the devs to start looking at options in terms of revitalizing the landscape and adding new areas. Edited, Sep 19th 2011 12:14pm by Olorinus