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.