Square Enix’s Naoki Yoshida has gently criticised the publisher for not stepping in earlier to avoid the train wreck of Final Fantasy XIV’s launch.
“Seeing it from, well, being on another project, you could see that they were having a very hard time,” the newly incumbent FFXIV producer told Gamasutra. “They were working very hard.
“And the company’s timing to say, ‘Okay, we can give some help to you guys from our team’ — or to put out that helping hand to the team — we realized that the timing that they offered help was probably a little too late.
“I mean, again, everyone has their own projects, and they’re worried about their own projects, but they could have helped a little earlier, possibly.”
Yoshida said the development team wasn’t transparent enough in its efforts to meet players’ demands.
“Square Enix wasn’t working close enough with their user base. They weren’t working with them. It was pretty much by themselves.
“And so this whole change [of Yoshida replacing original producer Hiromichi Tanaka] came about in order to address these issues. And the whole company would get together to work as one in a full company effort to get things back in track.
“Not that the company didn’t try hard their first time; it’s just that now they realize we have to take that next step, and we want to join hands as a company to do this. In that, I took the lead.”
The producer said community feeling had changed since his appointment, with players now cheering the team on as they wrestle the behemoth MMORPG into better shape, even to the point of approaching him in the street to offer well-wishes – a far cry from the violent abuse the game accrued in its early days.
Nevertheless, Yoshida isn’t ready to ask players to pay for the privilege of playing just yet, instead choosing to continue extending FFXIV’s bundled free subscription, which has now been in place for seven months.
“The reason we’re doing this is we’re showing the players, yes, it’s still costing us a lot of money, and we’re not getting that money back yet, but we’re serious about making these changes,” he added.
“This is one of the ways that we can show players that we are serious and we are taking it seriously.
“That’s why right now we still haven’t put out a date, because we haven’t got to that point yet where we can have a date where we’re going to say, ‘Okay, this is the point where we’re going to start taking money.’ So, it’s still out in the open.
Yoshida said the ongoing free trial was only possible with Square Enix’s full backing, as an investor-driven company would be hard pressed to justify it.