SE and FFXIV: A New Era of Communication?

By now, the developers of FFXIV should understand the value of speaking up.

Will we keep hearing from Hiromichi Tanaka, Nobuaki Komoto and co.?

Communication was never Square Enix's strong suit during the heyday of Final Fantasy XI -- but could Final Fantasy XIV be different?

We've been hearing from the development team quite often since the launch of Final Fantasy XIV. In addition to the "Ask the Devs" articles on the Lodestone Web site, the development team has been unusually vocal in interviews with various gaming magazines and media outlets. We've even heard directly from FFXIV Director Nobuaki Komoto about the incomplete state of the game. This is in stark contrast to Final Fantasy XI, when the development team spoke to its playerbase about as often as the Queen of England calls play-by-play at sporting events.

What gives?

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It's hard to say exactly why Square Enix is being so vocal. Are they talking to us to quell the storm surrounding FFXIV's debut? Or has the company finally wisened up to perhaps its biggest mistake in its previous MMO? I've written numerous times during the past few years that Square Enix could significantly improve its standing in the gaming community by communicating more often with its playerbase. At this point, I don't know whether Square Enix is trying to appease its players or simply following a predetermined gameplan.

Really, though, the answer is somewhat irrelevant. All that matters now is what Square Enix does from this point on. The company's ability to communicate with players has helped salvage a persistent community for Final Fantasy XIV. It would be in SE's best interest to keep on talking.

Here's what Square Enix should do as FFXIV grows:

  • Continue the "Ask the Devs" feature

Hopefully this isn't a temporary feature planned for the start of the game. As this game grows and evolves, I don't see how Ask the Devs could ever go out of style.

  • Maintain availability for interviews with gaming media sites and magazines.

Talking to the media allows players to hear real answers from developers. Even when developers stick to their talking points, their on-the-spot answers can sometimes provde more insight than a carefully worded statement on a Web site.

  • Provide fan sites with more question-and-answer opportunities.

Square Enix could have made an in-house fan site to be the hub of FFXIV's online community, but instead the company left that role to the fan sites. With that in mind, it's no surprise that most trends, issues and problems in the game tend to surface on the fan sites first. Answering questions directly from fan site administrators on a regular basis would provide immediate answers to the game's most pressing issues.

  • Continue to use the Lodestone Web site as a venue for the development team to speak directly to players.

Players have greatly appreciated Nobuaki Komoto's "state of the game" updates on the Lodestone Web site. The developers should use this tactic on a regular basis to maintain a discussion with players.

  • Allow regional community representatives to post more often in site forums.

The administrators at ZAM and other sites know that SE has community managers who read the forums on a daily basis. However, many players don't know this because the community managers rarely post in the forums. If SE's community representatives could post more often in the forums, then more players would have faith in their voices being heard.

  • Provide more clarity on issues fixed during minor patches and updates.

The development team is usually very good about previewing large version updates. However, today's average gamer is more cynical than eight years ago. Previewing and recapping as many patches as possible will help players feel better about changes to the game.

And, most importantly...

  • Continue to update the playerbase on the development team's plans for the game.

I'm not sure whether Final Fantasy XIV would still have a good chance of surviving had Square Enix not come forward with its plans for the upcoming version updates. While many players were frustrated with the game regardless of the pending updates, other players took comfort in knowing that positive changes were on the way. Being forthright may have prevented those players from becoming overly frustrated with the game. Continuing to be forthright will help keep those players happy, solidifying a dependable playerbase as FFXIV moves forward.

I would like to believe that SE has entered a new era of communicating with its players -- that perhaps the company learned a valuable lesson from both FFXI and the catastrophic launch of FFXIV.

Comments

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sigh
# Nov 30 2010 at 11:37 AM Rating: Decent
8 posts
The patch had some really good points from the very needed UI, made the game so much better with server lag way down. The auto sort is very nice, and the game it self has great potential, started off out the hole amazing.Now to get real, crafting needs to get a list in it, I mean this is not the 90s anymore, to write it down or have a web site up in background, common really, just put a list in. No story line so far that has depth in it, I mean very little, and quest lines are short, you have got to keep the clients interested SE whats going on, wheres the af1, wheres the windurst m1-1,1-2, etc you guys had a great line on ff11. HNM camping is a thing of the past, force pop is where its at, but ff11 was amazing in its day, from znm,dynam,hnm,sea,sky, so much to do, so little time. I think everyone nows what I mean. But in the modern world if you wanna make money, I don't have 12hrs a day to be on this game, so if you wanna get paid you gotta make the clients happy, i mean not bend over and take it like WoW but make it worth our time. The sp is so messed up, and even if you did grind on lowbie mobs your dura is gone, raise the dura on items, Ive been playing 2,5 months I think and not hardcore like they said they wanted, my max guy 33, what you think I wanna spend 8-9 months getting to 50 at 150sp a mob. No end game so far, ok give them some time to do it cause of the early release. Walking from point to point, I did not like WoW to much, to kiddish for me. But I have to say flight points help everyone, more people play, can do rl issues why your toon is in flight to somewhere. Summoning stones, major help in a game, not everyone has all the time in the world, let your team mates help you get there. I love the graphics in ff14, but you gotta get dif gear out there, clients pay 13.00/m for this, they wanna look dif. than everyone, its human nature.Thats one of the reasons I left 11 after 6-7 years, was everything looked the same, but there was so much to do. I have liked every ff game, from ff7 to this, and I have them all, I'm a huge fan, I want to see 14 just take the cake on mmo's. In order to do it, they gotta get the client in mind, stop thinking of how to make side money, look at wow, the game is stupid easy, same thing every week, but millions play at 15.00/m. Its the flight points, summon stone, gear change, mob variety, quest's, all things to help the working people out, so we can pay to play a game while where busy. Raptors for 15 lvls, that was wonderful whoever made that call SE. No sc's or mb's, the area's are pretty small, with nothing in them. I would love to see ff14 take the cake once again, but if they cant get some stuff added in this game, to help overall clients, its gonna die before it ever hits ps3 in march, I mean what does SE want stick to its guns and let the game fail, or get the clients in mind.
Um?
# Nov 24 2010 at 9:55 AM Rating: Decent
7 posts
Yeah, they could always do what that one incredibly popular company does and listen to their player community. I forget who--Oh! That's right, Blizzard...Something like a PTR could help, or an official community forums on their Lodestone website that their devs could keep an eye on.

I really do hope they keep in touch with their players instead of isolating themselves, that would really prove they wanted to earn respect.
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SE: A New Era of Communication?
# Nov 24 2010 at 12:47 AM Rating: Decent

Well FFXIV did not get very good reviews and I think that finally sunk into their heads that SE really needs to listen to their customers. They got away with allot of BS in FFXI for years, and that kind of hurts them in the long run.

But regardless..I am glad that are responding to their customers and doing something about these issues. I think they really don't have a choice now if they want this game to succeed.
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Uninformed article context ftl
# Nov 23 2010 at 7:07 PM Rating: Good
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Normally I'm not the type to criticize articles, but I'm not really sure why this article has that feeling like a 'what's going on here?' and/or shocked feeling. There is no surprise in the greater level of communication with the Dev team this time around. They said they were going to do so, and they've done so.

The points made on what SE should do as FFXIV grows are fairly pointless because four out of seven of them ask for SE to do things they are already doing. (continue x3, maintain x1).


However I do applaud the point of allowing community sites to have more Q&A opportunities, this being posted in such an article has that 'silence of the devs' motif going on.

Same thing with 'allowing community reps to post AT ALL' and to a lesser extent, more details on minor updates/patches. This should be an afterthought though or at least more of a completely different topic. It relates more to clarity of updates as the MMO matures and we see ninja combat adjustments, or to help the player base identify issues that were not intentional. (enfeeb nerf for ffxi)

Overall though if j00 gotta get paid at least make the article more acknowledging and not innocent 'gasp! what is all this communication all the sudden?? SE never told us they'd be communicating more!!'
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Uninformed article context ftl
# Nov 24 2010 at 6:54 AM Rating: Default
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237 posts
Probably because if SE does end up fixing everything that is wrong with FFXIV, then they'll all of a sudden stop this outreach to the community and once again become mute until another outcry crops up. SE may be a global brand but they are run by a people that live on a tiny island with limited exposure to foreign cultures and sensibilities the same way we might of their culture and sensibilities.

Most of their experiences come from what their native fanbase would tolerate and what the rest of the world would tolerate came second, hence the bishounen protagonists rampant in adventure games for example.

They are new to this whole "out-reach" thing and if they want to appeal to more than just the FF Zealots they are gonna have to maintain and improve this communication trend if they truly want to appeal to the global market outside of just naive fans who will tolerate them no matter what.
Uninformed article context ftl
# Nov 24 2010 at 10:36 AM Rating: Decent
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Tiny little Island that brought American Motor Companies to their knees.
Now SE is taking hints from their other " Tiny Little Islands" Playbook.
If having played most of SE's FF series makes me a Zealot, oh well.
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Uninformed article context ftl
# Nov 25 2010 at 12:09 AM Rating: Decent
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237 posts
functional products are a no-brainer for a hive mind. creative products are another matter.

Also I don't recall any of my comments making reference to the FF series. I own all of the numbered games except 13. I also don't recall SE being a car manufacturer for whatever point you were trying to make.

WHat would make one a Zealot is disliking negative opinions of something as underwhelming as new emotes when the game has been plagued with issues for so many years. Its hard to rationalize their inherent ineptitude and my/our tolerance for it up to this point.

Edited, Nov 25th 2010 1:18am by baltz
Uninformed article context ftl
# Dec 01 2010 at 11:04 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
functional products are a no-brainer for a hive mind. creative products are another matter.


Gogo, Captain Prejudice!
You're our only hope!

Edited, Dec 2nd 2010 12:05am by Rinsui
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