While I am very optimistic about this game, I am becoming overly pessimistic about SE.
A great game is great, only if a competent team is running it.
And sadly, the last few weeks have shown SE is far from competent.
HOWEVER: Launch will show whether or not this game will succeed. So maybe I'm making this post 2 days too early.
Here is just a list of some major problems that have recently appeared:
1. Gay Marriage Threads Deleted / People Banned
It doesn't matter what your view on gay marriage is. When threads on a topic are getting 40+ pages a day, that's a serious issue in your game. Instead of "cleaning up the threads," SE decided to just delete all threads pertaining to gay marriage, and dish out bans to supporters (while apparently not banning people who stated things like "all you **** should just die").
As a result, a number of websites strongly criticized SE, and a change.org petition gained over 1000 signatures (http://www.change.org/petitions/square-enix-allow-same-***-marriage-in-final-fantasy-xiv-a-realm-reborn)
The most depressing part about this is that one of the mods posted that they are o.k with people civilly discussing gay marriage.
So the next day someone posted a well thought out interesting thread on it. And to no surprise the thread was deleted.
In other words, SE is -saying- one thing, while acting in an opposite way. People do notice this.
2. Error 3102 & 90000
Throughout the entire open beta, many people were unable to access the game at all.
Threads on the forum reached 1000s of pages on the issue
And the forums just shut down (I'm assuming they overloaded)
SEs solution to this? Give players 6 extra hours.... from 5am to 11 am..... on a weekday....
The hitler reacts youtube video summed this issue up pretty well...
Why is this a problem?:
Open betas are generally meant to show off the game to new players, not sure if it's worth dishing out $70 on a game. From a marketing perspective this was a disaster. If anything, the beta did the opposite, scaring people away from it.
The lack of communication basically showed that either the devs don't care, or they are just unorganized.
And in a competitive MMO world where most devs/mods respond to serious issues within 30min of the problem arising and then post hourly updates (GW2, SWTOR), this open beta basically showed that SE is not up to the task of competing.
3. Character Creation Suspension and Server Overloads
One of the major things you do in any open beta or launch is ensure your servers are working well. Most major betas in the last few years have done this surprisingly well.
After experiencing server overloads -every- other beta, you would think SE would learn from their mistakes and extend server capacity to handle larger loads.
But instead, they suspended character creation, resulting in 1000s of people unable to play with their friends.
In an era when games are trying to eradicate servers (ESO), or have overflow servers (SWTOR, GW2), SE is still doing things the old-fashioned way, and failing at them.
Again, for potential new players (basically the entire point of this game re-design), this is one of those turn-off points.
4. Pre-Order Code Server Overload
After overloading the game servers, one would think that SE would realize "hey lots of people are going to flood our servers."
If they did, it would be an indication they are learning from their sever mistakes
There are lots of options. They could get more server capacity, spread out the registrations over multiple servers, or create a system where you enter your code, it's confirmed, and you get a message saying they will e-mail you when it's processed.
However, this is not the case.
For days, people were getting Pre-order code errors, and were completely unable to register their CE.
When registration got through, the next steps weren't clear. And the 100s of questions on this forum show that quite clearly.
5. Pre-order Confusion
Rather than creating a simple "log into your account and enter this code system," SE opted for a string of confusing "go here, now here" puzzles, and even to this point, half the community doesn't seem to know if they are properly registered, or why they have 2 accounts, or what is going on.
As a 1.0 CE owner and Legacy member, even I had trouble navigating the multiple accounts and steps involved in registering my PS3 code.
When entering a code becomes more confusing than quantum mechanics, you have a problem.
6. Lack of in-house shipping or financial management
1.0 resulted in 1000s of complaints about a terrible payment-service that seemed to overcharge people and steal money.
This would generally suggest to a wise manager, that outsourcing important things like payment or product sales, is not the way to go.
Sadly SE seems to have decided not to pick up this obvious piece of wisdom.
As a result, people have had their CE orders randomly cancelled, and various other issues with digital river.
Just based on the forums, it seems like very few people like them.
7. Forum Limitations
One of the best parts of forums is finding useful guides, explanatory posts, help, etc.
SE has instead opted to ridiculous limitations, preventing any serious threads from being created.
It is very difficult to make an optimal argument in only 1000 words.
And this should have been clear on the Beta Forums, where nearly everyone edited their posts to over-take the limits.
However, SE has opted for one of the most limiting forums I have ever seen for a game.
Given their history of deleting entire threads instead of cleaning up specific offensive posts, I'm assuming this is a cost-saving method.
However, with huge limitations like this, it is hard to have any serious discussions or constructive posts on the forums.
It also makes the forums look constrictive when compared to other MMOs out there.
8. Customer Support Issues
This is no surprise.
The number of complains about SE's customer support is outrageous.
I've seen people being banned multiple times because someone necrod a thread they had already been banned for
People post about spending 3 hours in a queue only to be told to send an email because a representative isn't available
People spend 3 hours on the phone waiting to talk to someone
People being told they can't merge accounts, when the only reason they have 2 accounts is because SE made things overly complicated in betas (or laggy)
E-mails that take 2 days just to be acknowledge, and 2 more days to get a 1-sentance reply
FFXIV ARR is a game with almost no real support
I take this one a bit personally, as I run a marketing company.
This is probably one of the worst commercials I have ever seen in my life (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCAqc9J3iZc)
I have to assume they skipped the entire market testing process, because it's just -that- terrible
Rather than attract players to this game, it makes the game look like some corny children's low budget RPG.
Not the image you want for an epic redesign.
The saddest part is that FFXIV looks amazing. Within a few hours i'm betting forum-goers could throw together footage to create a more appealing and effective commercial.
When a company screws up this hard you know there will be problems (remember the windows vista Seinfeld commercials?)
Overall, SE is dropping the ball time and time again.
Now they are basically saying "btw, there will be server congestion at launch", rather than doing what every other modern MMO is doing, and creating overflow zones.
SE Still hasn't managed to get their servers in order, and there is a good chance the errors affecting people during p4 will return. If they can't fix a problem in 3 days, the likelihood is they won't fix it completely in 6 days. Especially since there are no longer 100k+ people to test things.
With a rushed game,
And massive confusion,
This game will only "succeed" financially with a lot of luck.
And that is really worrying.
If FFXIV was the only MMO I don't think I would consider these major issues.
But when you take into account who FFXIV has to compete with, they seem to fall behind in almost every area outside of the game.
I really really love this game and I'm hoping i'm dead wrong here.
But at this point, I can't see this game going further than the Niche market it already has a hold on.
What do you think?
Edited, Aug 22nd 2013 10:08pm by Azurymber