On the topic of where the game is going, I have one question:
How long will SE continue to finance FFXIV?
It's not currently being paid for entirely through subscriptions. I doubt they have made enough to cover development costs to date. I also doubt that subscriptions are even paying for server upkeep at this time. I suspect they are continuing to lose money each month.
If I had to guess, there a few wealthy Japanese FF fans begging SE to continue developing this game and subsidizing the losses to the company (I know the official company line, but suspect this is closer to the truth). Perhaps someone will attempt to spell out the math on the current population vs. past and current dev costs.
I'm afraid that Ver 2.0 will NOT herald in an era of FFXIV success. Shortly after Ver 2.0, SE will have fairly solid data with which to forecast the future finacial success (or not) of FFXIV.
Considering these factors, I fear the title of this thread is aptly named.
With regard to the initial and ongoing cost of the game, we only have vague guesses, as far as I know, and so that's what I'll attempt to provide. Of course, nothing I say is anywhere near definitive, and I invite others to supplement what I post.
That said, if we assume SE's "somewhere around 100 people working on FFXIV" is correct, and assume that each of those people makes the modest salary of about 35k per year, then upkeep and development only since release, and not counting servers and initial development,
has cost SE ~$3.5 million. With a total number of initial copies sold somewhere in the 300k range, assuming SE makes a very generous profit from each box (like, around $35 pure profit), then they have made somewhere around $10.5 million.
But, since we believe that the game had been in development for a number of years (anywhere between 3~5), then we can assume that the salaries of the team (again, ~3.5 million each year) ate up all of that and then some. The amount gained from monthly fees, assuming about 15k players, is ~150 thousand dollars thus far - a proverbial drop in the ocean.
In short: the continuing salaries of the team, plus server upkeep, and initial development costs very likely cost more than SE has earned thus far; I never factored in such things as temporary employees (e.g., voice actors, motion capture technicians), and I think that I exaggerated the net profit per box at the same time I undersold the salaries of all of SE's workers. So, in reality, SE is probably still millions away from even breaking even. And the longer they keep it up, the more they lose; even even 100 times more people were to join, it would still probably take a few months to recuperate the losses. Honestly, though, I don't think SE has lost too much by way of simple investments and salaries in this game alone
: I think the damage caused by FFXIV's poor release and ongoing reputation will ultimately cost them a much greater amount - in investors, in budgets for other games, in lower sales as customers become wary - as time goes on.