As we all know now, anxious Final Fantasy XIV fans can finally sign up for a chance to play the first closed beta version on PC. Meanwhile, in Japan, people were lining up to get their hands on copies of Final Fantasy XIII, which was rumored to contain a chance to enter the upcoming Playstation 3 beta version.
So, how did that turn out?
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It's 9:45am on December 17th, and I'm here outside of GEO, one of the largest game store chains in Japan. I have my pre-order slip all ready to go, and the store should open in about 15 minutes.
The pre-order slip was purchased back when The Four Warriors of Light: Final Fantasy Gaiden came out, which turned out to be a pretty good game. Hopefully they'll release it overseas within the next year.
As a fair number of people began to show up, the store staff began issuing numbers. These were for an "at-the-door" reservation system, so you didn't need to use it if you had already pre-ordered. The tickets were only good at that one particular store, and only until noon that day.
One pleasant surprise was that the game turned out to be "only" 7,770 yen instead of the widely reported 9,240 yen. Price didn't seem to phase many of the other patrons though, since I saw a lot of Special Edition Lightning PS3s being happily snapped up. Stacks of strategy guides were readily available at the counter as well, but did not prove to be as popular.
Guides these days are somewhat irritating though. The ones that are sold close to the game's release are only "starter guides" and contain basic information about the game and a walk-through that stops around halfway. Most of the game's secrets are still left secret. You have to wait a couple weeks to a month to see the real guides start to hit the shelves. Usually, it's best just to search for a wiki if you get stuck.
On a side note, I can't stand that plastic wrap stuff. You always have to keep picking and picking at that little part at the top trying to get your fingernail under there. And then when you manage to pull the plastic up, you only get a tiny little piece off, and that just makes it harder. People always tell me to open from the bottom, like that will do any good.
Well, whatever. I'm going to get my Campaign Code one way or another.
The back is just like we previously saw in the leaked picture. In addition to unlocking a "secret item" in Final Fantasy XIV, the Campaign Code is also used to enter a lottery for spaces in the Playstation 3 version of the beta. You need the Campaign Code for both of these purposes, so even after signing up, you will want to put this in a safe place.
The beta sign-up itself was fairly similar to the US version, with a few differences. In the Japanese one, there is a choice between PC or PS3 beta, with the latter requiring the code. One thing that would have been nice was a confirmation that you entered your code correctly -- it seems to just send along whatever you type in regardless of whether you screw up.
Like the US version, the Japanese beta form also asks if you work in the gaming industry of have any fan sites. Hopefully this will not work against an applicant since the rules state you cannot reveal any information gleaned about the development of Final Fantasy XIV when playing the beta.
There have been a several skeptics recently, myself included, that were wondering what Square Enix had planned for the beta, thinking they might be overlooking their foreign audience. Well, I have to say I am pleasantly surprised with how they have handled the initiation of their first closed beta so far.
For the time being though, it seems that Japanese players and foreign players will be somewhat segregated, although it may just be too early in development to dump everyone into the same Eorzea all at once. Not to mention, gaming systems like Playstation 3 are far more popular than PCs, so a PC-only beta in Japan would not make as much sense.
Anyway, it's great to see the fans happy again. We had a bit of the drought regarding Final Fantasy XIV info, but Square Enix has brought an early Christmas present to players around the world. Now that I'm all signed up, I might as well pop in Final Fantasy XIII and check it out.
See you in Eorzea!