"Final Fantasy 14's" Reduction in Content. . .this Is a Problem
The Current Situation
Final Fantasy XIV has gone through MANY changes in the short time of eight/nine years that it was published. From the abysmal initial launch to "A Realm Reborn" and finally, the current expansion "Shadowbringers." But over time, there is something gravely amiss about the game that is not being addressed by the community. That has been the continuing decrease and "trimming" of content while expecting players to continue paying full price. This reduction of in-game content is a problem on multiple fronts, and therefore, it is important to discuss why and perhaps what steps are needed to take place to hold the Development Team accountable.
The Growing Imbalance
Paying More While Receiving Less...
As mentioned before, there is a growing imbalance of subpar gameplay mixed with the expectation of players having to pay full price for this content. A prime example of this comes from the most recent of Live Letters when the entity known as "Yoshi-P" has decreed that there will only be one dungeon per patch moving forward from the "Shadowbringers" expansion. In the past, most expansions prior to this came with at least two dungeons and a series of fulfilling quests in between those dungeons. This is the first problem: The Development Team's or rather "Yoshi-P's" lack of effort is on full display. After having completed an expansion, they expect a break from creating content in a Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG); sadly, such is not the case as MMORPGs are constantly ongoing projects. That said, it is important to provide a large number of quests and objectives to keep players interested or they lose interest quickly.
This then brings up the potential question, why pay full price for a game reducing in both content and value? The answer is no, you should not; however, "Yoshi-P" expects customers to blindly do so while continuing to offer substandard efforts. What's worse is that no one contests this; perhaps they are wary of speaking out due to having their game licenses revoked and no longer allowed to play the game. Perhaps there is a different reason. It remains uncertain. However, I would not be surprised if this growing unbalances of lackluster and lacking efforts and apathy ultimately brings all-new dungeons and means of gameplay to a grinding halt while still charging new full price. This is a problem.
Blind Complacency, Giving Way to Complicity
How we, as the Players, Allowed This, and how we are misled
We, the audience and participants of this game, are equally to blame for this sad state of events. First and foremost, we should see ourselves as the final shareholders of the game in which our enjoyment is the fuel and fire needed to continue providing quality content for all players instead of leaving a majority of content by the wayside and just drip-feeding lackluster content for the select subset of people (Hello, Raids).
This is a problem in that our complacency, meaning the belief that "they are working on something better down the road," has stunted our satisfaction for the current content provided being less and less rewarding and engaging. Worse still, we are paying full price subscriptions for content that is deliberately being held against us. Finally, the subscription model itself is questionable due to a recent Free Login Campaign they touted to sucker new/returning players into resubscribing. Here's the problem with that campaign; it proves that the need to provide a subscription is meaningless when you could provide the content at no-cost. Many defenders of the model state that the money is being used to maintain both servers but employees as well, and that the removal of such subscription models would be disastrous.
Two flaws come up with that argument; the first being the company in question: Square-Enix Holdings, Inc. This is a multi-billion dollar conglomerate with several divisions responsible for making revenue for the company. The fact that this company is not capable of providing a quality of life for their employees via a livable wage and benefits package proves that SE (Square-Enix) was and forever remains a failure of a company. Their business model was doomed from inception.
The second is server maintenance concerns. Even factoring such cost, utility, location and a crew needed to make the needed repairs and updates, that's only in the few tens of thousands of dollars; such an amount is covered by the American Sector of Players ALONE in terms of acquiring the needed funds. This now opens a new question, where are the remaining funds going? It can't be towards the employees as they would be more inclined to create better content if this was the case...in that regard, it could only have been hemorrhaged by poor management and even worse marketing tactics that fall short of deceptive.
Knowing this practice is now flawed and beyond a reasonable doubt, we as players have become complicit in our own exploitation and acceptance of lower-quality content. We allowed ourselves to believe that "Yoshi-P" has our best interests at heart when in reality, he's simply bottle-necking content while expecting us to pay out more for content that should have long been implemented, or at the very least a much deeper and richer game play experience than what was currently presented. The constant excuses are the following, of which our complicity has accepted as the gospel:
- We lack "resources." What 'resources' and why do you lack them? Why did you not plan for this? What are you doing with the money, OUR resource, that we've given to you?
- We already implemented this [questionable practice, aka pay-to-win option] in [insert Global Area]. We are asking for feedback. Why are you asking for feedback on something you already implemented, and why are you implementing something that would be more detrimental to the overall experience? (Side note: the shortcut of 'Potions' is an entirely different discussion that will be addressed at a later article)
- We are focusing on new content. At the expense of everything before it? So what's the point of playing the game if you have no interest in preserving or enriching the existing content? What is our money being used for if not to the betterment of the playing experience?
- We are streamlining quests. You're eliminating existing content? WHY? That goes against the very NATURE of a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, ROLE PLAYING GAMES IN GENERAL, and completely eliminates needed context in terms of the story itself, so why do ANY of that? Finally, as an aside, why bother doing any of that when you already implemented a questionable practice to artificially build up a community?
Just from these responses alone, the glaring problem of our complicity and complacency is the justification of sub-par, substandard efforts from a Development Team and "Leadership" that clearly see players as payers and not individuals that want to get the full experience of the world of Eorzea; but make no mistake, this is as much on us as it is on them.
Where's the Money Going?
The Heart of the Matter...
I feel this is the real question that goes into this whole discussion and article in its entirety. At the end of the day, we are paying customers, purchasing access to a game play experience each month (or set of months depending on billing choice), and we have every RIGHT and EXPECTATION to know exactly where our money, OUR INVESTMENT OF TIME AND FUNDING, is being put towards. I understand that not all of SE or the FFXIV development team is going to reveal sensitive company trading secrets. That's not what this is about. This is about knowing how our investment is being placed in regards to this game, Final Fantasy XIV Online. And here is my stance on such matters:
- The money we are spending on this game is not reflecting the quality that should be placed on a medium such as this, where our limited funding for entertainment is being squandered by the Developers and "Yoshi-P" for their own dubious purposes.
- Quality of Life and Quality of Content are on the decline, despite SE's efforts to proclaim more players are "joining the game." This proves a discrepancy in that a larger player base would mean larger funds, which means larger and more robust content; such content has not been put into place nor practice, current expansion/patches included.
- It is continuing to become more evident that dwindling content with greater cost to customers is the new direction "Yoshi-P" is seeking to achieve going forward. This must be stopped.
Sadly, this trend is not an isolated incident in this particular space of entertainment. With the overwhelming exploitation of loot boxes and microtransactions ushered in the 2010s, SE just saw the opportunity to entrap their own "whales" in their space, us, and bleed us dry of our limited funding. Enough is enough.
The End Result
Content as Wide as the Ocean, yet Shallower Than a Puddle
Just as the saying suggests, we will continue to recieve a variety of ideas that will literally go nowhere in terms of depth; Diadem, Eureka, and even Aquapolis come to mind. Even PvP, which is known to have SOME depth to it, has been homogenized and lacks any value or depth.
The current situation is dire, in that we have continued to accept whatever excuse the Development Team has concocted, and the imbalance of quality content with overpricing/microtransactions continues to run unchecked. Our complacency gave way to unwitting complicity which "Yoshi-P" has seized advantage on.
Finally, the heart of the matter is the simple fact that our money is being wasted by this company on this dwindling game is criminal in nature and deed. But what can we really do about it outside of "Speaking With Our Wallet" as they are already rich enough to not care?
Please let me know down below; or perhaps you have a similar concern from this troubling practice; I'm eager to hear from you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Michael Rivers