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Final Fantasy XIV keeping subscriptions to ‘regain trust of fans’, says director

Monday, 19 November 2012 13:46 GMT By Dave Cook

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is currently in development, and while it addresses several issues from the game’s critically-panned original release, it will remain subscription-based while most MMOs are going free-to-play. Producer and director Naoki Yoshida has explained to VG247 that his team is keeping the game’s subscription model as it fulfils a promise made to fans. Find out why below.

As part of an upcoming Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn interview with Yoshida, we asked the developer why Square-Enix was keeping the game’s subscription model intact when the rest of the world seems to be embracing free-to-play.

Yoshida replied, “The main reason why we haven’t decided to take the free-to-play option is that, at the game’s original launch, it didn’t live up to expectations and it let down a lot of fans. We lost the trust of fans who had followed us across our 25-year history. We want to regain that trust and to deliver on past promises.

“One of the promises we originally stated was that we would release the game with a subscription model. Players will be able to play it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days in the year if they paid a subscription fee.

“So to regain the trust of our players we must of course fulfil this promise. Right now we believe that to be more important than any kind of business decision.”

Yoshida also stressed that the pros and cons of both models are yet to be seen, and argued that it’s hard to make a clear judgement between them both.

“The other thing is that – depending on what kind of game you have – its hard to say which model is better. Is free-to-play better? Are subscriptions better? It just really depends, and it’s hard to say which one is better.”

It’s all rather confusing, but one thing makes sense: that Square-Enix doesn’t want to be running Final Fantasy XIV out of someone else’s pocket, and this is where the need for subscription models makes sense, even if it’s unpalatable to those accustomed to free-to-play.

“The last thing is that our aim is to make an MMO,” Yoshida continued, “and a lot of companies do their development for MMOs by getting money from investors. Then the investors want their money back, so if the game doesn’t make enough money or doesn’t have enough users, then what do we do?

“We’d have to pay our investors back, and free-to-play is an option to get that money back to investors quickly. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a product that is independent to Square-Enix. All of the money’s coming from us, so we had more time to put it into what we wanted to do. We’re not in a rush to pay anyone back.”

What’s your view on the subscriptions versus free-to-play issue? Is Square shooting itself in the foot by sticking with subscriptions, or is there a volatile existence been F2P developers and investors that we’re yet to see exposed? Let us know below.

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22 Comments

  1. Unlimax

    If the PS3 version has the same subscriptions system without F2P then Square is indeed shooting itself in the foot !

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Razor

    And you’re both experts, right? ;)

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 who is?

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Razor

    Oh sorry, were you not doing the “I’m an expert” skit from GAF?

    I thought the “shooting itself in the foot” reference was a nudge to it :)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Dave Cook

    @4 Oh, no, no :)

    #5 2 years ago
  6. SplatteredHouse

    Sell the box, add pay-for aesthetics and shortcuts. That’s how I’d prefer things. They get more sales of the base title, and, over time the microtransactions amass – en-masse! Then, when it’s time for a big update, sell the expansion and support it with new content and continue to expand.

    Good point by Yoshida, though about how the game you’re making should work with the business model being used.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. FabioPal

    I don’t get his point… “One of the promises we originally stated was that we would release the game with a subscription model”, yes, and he even promised that the game would’ve been awesome…

    And then, “We’d have to pay our investors back, and free-to-play is not an option to get that money back to investors quickly.” considering that “We’re not in a rush to pay anyone back”… they have to go subscription based… my brain just exploded.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Seda

    “The last thing is that our aim is to make an MMO,” Yoshida continued, “and a lot of companies do their development for MMOs by getting money from investors. Then the investors want their money back, so if the game doesn’t make enough money or doesn’t have enough users, then what do we do?

    “We’d have to pay our investors back, and free-to-play is NOT an option to get that money back to investors quickly. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a product that is independent to Square-Enix. All of the money’s coming from us, so we had more time to put it into what we wanted to do. We’re not in a rush to pay anyone back.

    Is it possible that the NOT shouldn’t be here? First noted here:

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=44512947&postcount=19

    Yoshida might be saying that the reason why FFXIV will be subscription based is because SE does NOT have investors to pay back and thus doesn’t need to get “that money back to investors quickly”.

    Is this a mistake?

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Dave Cook

    @8 Yeah he’s saying that free-to-play games are usually funded by investors who expect some kind of return, but because FFXIV is independent, they don’t have investors to pay back.

    I’m not getting the issue with the ‘not’. Any chance of elaborating a little? I’ll fix it if need be, but that’s what he said via a translator :)

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Seda

    With the NOT there the argument seems contradictory, and the distinction Yoshida is making between FFXIV and other MMOs doesn’t make sense to me. It seems like he’s saying that the reason why other MMO’s often go free to play is because that is a method to get that money back to investors quickly. But because SE doesn’t need to do that, they aren’t planning on going F2P.

    To quote the person who originally noted this out (link above)

    “What he’s saying here is that other MMOs have investors, and when the game fails to make enough money or drops in userbase, they have to turn to free-to-pay to get money back for investors quickly. But there are no “investors” for FFXIV, and it’s entirely funded by S-E, so they don’t care if it takes longer to build up a userbase and get returns using a subscription model.”

    #10 2 years ago
  11. SplatteredHouse

    @8 it doesn’t seem to be. With a sub, each month they will get an amount based on subscriber total that they can pay back to investors. If they go f2p, they have to rely more on item/service sales coming in, in sufficient quantity, probably over a longer period, to pay investors back.

    Except…He points out that FFXIV is not funded by these investors, it’s all in-house at SE. The more fussy might want to see the what DO we do line alter to “what WOULD we do?”, maybe, but it’s a foreign translation.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Seda

    @11 Let’s assume the NOT being there is indeed correct. It is confusing to me why he would make the distinction:

    Other MMOs use investor money –> Possibly go F2P

    FFXIV doesn’t use investor money –> stay subscription

    If F2P was not a way to get money back quickly, then why would MMOs that use investor money do it?

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Dave Cook

    @12 Yeah that does make sense. At any rate it’s been edited out. That’s how it was said on the recording, although it was a translated chat, and in this context it’s wrong.

    Lets get back to the issue at hand though: Should this go free – will it after a few months even? – or should it star sub-based?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. SplatteredHouse

    @12 “if the game doesn’t make enough money or doesn’t have enough users” then the sub model cannot support the requirement to repay investors, so they would go f2p (hoping for a bump to appeal in the process) to enable them to continue to repay investors, albeit over an extended term. Because FFXIV is not reliant on outside investment, that allows them the option to stay sub.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Dave Cook

    @14 Maybe that will happen after launch? I think it would cause a few red faces if they had to then go free-to-play after such an investment. But the MMO market can be a fickle place. Will be interesting to see how the new changes are received.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. SplatteredHouse

    @14, 15 Yoshida is not talking about his game there, but in broader terms of an mmo. see: ” a lot of companies…”

    One thing that’s made this extra fun to decipher/discuss is that your commentary, and Yoshida’s quotes could perhaps be more clearly separated. Despite the paragraphs, the article resembles a bit of a text block. There are open quotations without close, and unless I’m mistaken, open quotations that lead unresolved from Yoshida’s words into Dave’s! :o
    Is it “correct” to re-open quotes following a line-break, if you’re continuing what that same speaker said?

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Rident

    When appointed Yoshida made a series of promises regarding the game one of which was keeping FFXIV a subscription based MMO. They are very strictly addressing these promises made to the fans and players and are ensuring these fans are satisfied (like myself).

    I don’t think they will move to a F2P model. This would upset fans like myself who have supported game through subscriptions and become Legacy members. Also if you take a look at the FFXI model which is still running with a fair number of subscribers using the existing model. I am a subscriber to both of these services and do feel with the level and quality of updates made to the game, it can justify charging a monthly fee. FFXI is 10 years old I believe and is due a new expansion early next year so the subscription numbers must be satisfactory to continue to support the game, and supports their decision to keep FFXIV a subscription based MMO.

    As far as I’m aware, F2P is a very Western style model where as FFXIV and FFXI are very Japanese operated large scale MMOs adopting a model they feel is appropriate. If subscriber numbers were issued and categorised by region, I’m sure the majority would be Japanese or from other Eastern territories judging by the language used in a lot of the in game chat and shouts.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Rident

    “Players will be able to play it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days in the year if they paid a subscription fee”

    Not sure if they can fulfill this promise though with previous known server downtime for server maintenance and updates.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Dave Cook

    @18 was that a big issue previously dude?

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Rident

    I think maybe the thing about regions in my previous comment is a bit irrelevant as there seems there was consideration for F2P

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Rident

    I never found it an issue, annoying sometimes but quickly got over it after updates. They were not too regular either unless there was a new expansion needing patches

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Jagged85

    @Rident:

    “As far as I’m aware, F2P is a very Western style model where as FFXIV and FFXI are very Japanese operated large scale MMOs adopting a model they feel is appropriate. If subscriber numbers were issued and categorised by region, I’m sure the majority would be Japanese or from other Eastern territories judging by the language used in a lot of the in game chat and shouts.”

    Actually, it’s the opposite: The Free-To-Play (F2P) model is a more Eastern-style model, whereas the subscription model is a more Western-style model. The largest markets for F2P games by far, accounting for a majority of the world’s F2P market, are Korea (where it largely originated from in its current ‘virtual goods’ form) and especially China (by virtue of its huge population). The large Japanese social & mobile gaming markets have also been dominated by the F2P model for a long time now. It’s only in recent years that many Western developers (mainly in the social & mobile spaces) have started adopting the F2P model. Among Eastern developers, Square Enix’s subscription model is the exception rather than the norm.

    #22 2 years ago

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    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]

  • Watch Hideo Kojima answer lots of your burning Phantom Pain questions

    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]

  • Watch PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from GDC 2015

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new gameplay video available that shows a bit of action from the PC version. The video below was captured from Nvidia’s GDC conference live-stream. Developer CD Projekt RED was on hand to show off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s graphical prowess running on a PC. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • Dying Light: Hard Mode and Ultimate Survivor Bundle out March 10

    Dying Light’s second DLC drop, the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, and the free Hard Mode, have been given a solid release date alongside a new trailer. Dying Light developer Techland has confirmed that the Ultimate Survivor Bundle, the game’s second DLC drop, will release March 10. The DLC is part of the season pass, but will […]

  • Exploration puzzler Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4

    Ether One, the first-person exploration game that puts you in the minds of other people to help change events of their past is coming to PlayStation 4 this year. Ether One is coming to PlayStation 4 this year, developer White Paper Games announced at GDC 2015. A retail version will also be available alongside the […]

  • Larian “murdered” Divinity: Dragon Commander to focus on Original Sin

    Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian talked very candidly about the business side of development and the many unfortunate events that took place for the game to come out as it did. Larian Studios founder Swen Vincke gave a post-mortem on the troubled development of Divinity: Original Sin, and how it managed to overcome all of […]

  • Firewatch probably has the most natural dialogue of any game to date

    Firewatch developer Campo Santo has revealed the first ever gameplay footage of the upcoming exploration game. Firewatch is the first game from super indie studio Campo Santo. The game is set in the Wyoming forests where the player will be exploring the environment and act as a fire lookout. The game features extensive voice-acting as […]

  • White Night launch trailer is a noir thriller trip

    White Night is here, not long after it was revealed and with a mysterious launch trailer. White Night, the black-and-white survival horror set in 1930s Boston, has revealed its launch trailer. White Night is mix of old-school horror, exploration and puzzling solving in an eerie, noir setting. The game’s main mechanic is light. any object […]

  • Free-to-play is “a significant part” of PlayStation’s digital future

    Free-to-play games on PlayStation 4 have seen enough growth that Sony is now considering the model a major part of its future digital business. Sarah Thompson, senior account executive for PlayStation’s free-to-play business said at a GDC panel that Sony has witnessed impressive growth in the free-to-play sector. “We’re really looking at this as a […]

  • Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter documentary releasing free on YouTube

    Broken Age making of documentary Double Fine Adventure will be made available to all. When Double Fine turned to crowdfunding, changing the industry forever, it promised to give an unprecedented look behind the scenes with a professional documentary of the whole development process of Broken Age. That documentary was initially restricted to Kickstarter backers, but […]

  • Gone Home console ports cancelled following Midnight City difficulties

    Gone Home won’t be made available to the console masses after all. Indie hit Gone Home was announced for console release almost exactly one year ago, and we’ve heard absolutely nothing since then. Turns out, that’s because it’s not happening: developer the Fullbright Company confirmed to Eurogamer that the ports have been cancelled. “Our publishing […]