Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV (or FFXIV) is one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the year. The spiritual successor to the first Final Fantasy MMORPG, Final Fantasy XI Online (FFXI), FFXIV was expected to make a big splash upon its fall release. Some news about the open beta testing phase is causing gamers to second-guess the game’s late-September release date. Will Final Fantasy XIV be released on time?
FFXI has enjoyed remarkable staying power over the better part of the past decade, thanks to the Final Fantasy franchise’s rabid fan base. The game’s graphics and controls are somewhat archaic, a testament to just how long ago 2002 was in the gaming universe. She don’t look like much, but fans love FFXI anyway. The game is still being played, and continues to have additional content and expansion packs released. FFXIV’s graphics, controls, and features like the in-game crafting system are reported to be vastly improved from FFXI. By correcting the “mistakes” of the first Final Fantasy MMORPG, players expected FFXIV to boast the same long-term play as its predecessor.
FFXIV’s closed alpha and beta testing have been underway for months. Developers have been finding and fixing bugs in preparation for the game’s scheduled September release. Though some bugs have been discussed on game forums and the like, this was no cause for concern – every game has bugs before it ships. It was already known that FFXIV’s PS3 version wouldn’t be released until spring of 2011, but gamers had no reason to believe the PC game would be delayed.
Many gamers are now rethinking that position. After sending out invitations to the millions of gamers who signed up for FFXIV beta but weren’t invited to the smaller, closed version, Square Enix has announced that the open beta is indefinitely postponed. The open beta, which was scheduled to open on August 31st, is reportedly postponed due to ” a confirmation of critical bugs,” according to FFXIV’s beta sign-up page.
With the game scheduled for release on September 30th – September 22nd for players who buy the special edition – it seems difficult to believe that “critical bugs” can be repaired and tested in just a few short weeks. A brief open beta testing phase runs the risk of having crucial bugs missed before the game’s release. At its scheduled start date of August 31st, Final Fantasy XIV’s open beta was already cutting it close. With the beta postponed, it seems inevitable that either the game’s release date will also be postponed – or that gamers will wind up playing a glorified beta version of the game if it ships on time.
Since FFXIV will charge a monthly subscription fee, the fear of paying to play an unfinished game may be enough to turn some gamers away from release purchase. Many gamers have already pre-ordered the special edition version of the game, for $75 instead of the standard edition’s $50 price tag. The amazing draw to the collector’s edition was the 8-day head start offered by allowing buyers to begin play on September 22nd instead of the standard release date of September 30th. If FFXIV is still riddled with bugs upon release, those 8 days may be a total waste.
FFXIV promises to be one of the best MMORPG offerings on the horizon, but the hype surrounding the game could easily be nullified by a delayed release and a small army of angry special edition pre-order buyers. Let’s hope the Moogles work overtime and get this game released on time.
Final Fantasy XIV.
Final Fantasy XIV Beta Test Application Site.
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Mike Fahey. “Final Fantasy XIV Beta is No Go.” Kotaku.