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Fixing Final Fantasy XIV: The Yoshida Interview
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Fixing Final Fantasy XIV: The Yoshida Interview

April 1, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

The company took a fairly radical measure of suspending charging monthly fees. I was wondering if you could talk about why that was undertaken and if it's had the effect that you hoped?

NY: It was pretty much personally because I've been a player for so long. I wanted to make sure that I would only ask the player to pay for something that once I could say, "Okay, we have this planned, and we're going to do this. This is what we're going to do, so this is the point where we can actually ask you for money." Without that, I personally, as a player, wouldn't feel good about asking the player to pay money without that information.

And coming off what I said before, if we had used investors' money to do this, we probably couldn't do this. It's because Square Enix is funding this project 100 percent. That's why we can do this. Only Square Enix can do something like this.

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. 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.

Since you've come on, has the community reaction changed? How do players feel about things?

NY: Yeah, the biggest thing that we've seen is the community is really rooting for us. They seem to have accepted this change and are hoping that it's moving the project in the right direction. I'm very happy we're getting so many kind words from the users, and getting such a great response.

Just yesterday, I was walking down the street, and somebody approached me in San Francisco, and said, "Are you Naoki Yoshida? I'm playing Final Fantasy XIV," and thanked me for joining the team and told me good luck. That was very surprising to me, but I was very happy that happened. It made me feel really good.

SS: Again, we do realize that the people that are still playing now are people who are very loyal, so they're going to want to expect the best. But we do realize that there are a lot of people who play, but then quit. And so our next step is that we have to show them that, yes, we have this plan and we have this vision and we want to change this. And so that's our next step. That's also very important to us.

How far into the future are you looking? Is it primarily a process of addressing concerns? Or are you looking into things like how the game will fare down the road? Do you have a long-term vision?

NY: Pretty much, we've split it into two parts. We have our long-term plan, where I have a lot of ideas for things I want to do far in the future. But then again, of course, you have the development cost and like time of the developers. And so you have to have a short-term plan as well, and these short-term plans of maybe two to three month spans, where you have your short-term goals. And achieving these is important.

The things we have for these short two-month to three-month goals are things that we are releasing in the producer letters. Of course, we want to reveal what's in that long-term plan as well, and we're working as hard as we can to make sure that we can reveal this, get that solidified so we can reveal it as soon as possible.

I've only been on the project for three months. I'm still is learning a lot about the development team, what kind of resources we have, who the people are on the team, what their strengths and weaknesses are. So, yes, I have this really long plan, and I've divided it up into certain sectors, and then those sectors are divided up into even tinier sectors. But as I learn more about the team and what they can do and what they cannot do -- of course that's going to change.

Once I've learned enough about that. "Okay, I trust that this person's is going to be able to get this much done in this much time." I'll be able to reveal more and more things that are for the future. Right now, I'm still learning, and that's why we can only reveal something that's only a few months away.

What effect has this had on the PlayStation 3 version of the game? The state that the game is in, I guess. I'm sure you've re-evaluated those plans, whatever they were.

NY: Well, again, the controls could be a little different. The PS3 version, the PC version, it's going to be the same game. So, our top priority is making the game that is very Final Fantasy, something that we can be proud of and something that the players will come in and they will love this Eorzea. It's an Eorzea that we can be proud of and the players will enjoy. Once we can do this, that's when we'll release the PlayStation 3 version.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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Aaron Truehitt
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I'm a little skeptical of them charging a fee for things that have been free so long. Personally, I wouldn't mind paying for it if the game was improved substantially. However, wouldn't it make sense for them to keep a portion of the game free still, while the new features would cost money?

Well, maybe that would only be a problem if it was already a great game that had been free for so long.

Derek Loftis
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@Aaron I feel like you in the line of a dedicated MMO you could not have a society of players that pay and another society of players that do not pay. I say this because I feel like somewhere along the line someone would be cheated out of a fulfilling experience. Also, I believe the development would suffer because the devs would have to focus on two drastically different aspects of the game.

For the sake of progressing my ideas of how this would work, I'll ask you to brainstorm how portions of the game be free, while others are not?

I could see mule characters being free-of-charge by limiting them to be unable to leave the city they are essentially digitally birthed into, but as for any other style-of-play I feel like you would have to charge.

I think the first month being free is the kind of the golden time where you get to experiment and see if the game has to offer what you are looking for. And the only reason it has been free for this time because they are trying to fix what is apparently broken. (I say apparently because I haven't played it, but will be trying it soon).

Dustin Chertoff
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You can look at the hybrid model employed by Turbine for DDO/LoTRO. It works, but you will have pushback by the subscriber base when "convenience" items start popping up that are more "pay-to-win" than anything else (i.e. unique potions that do not share cooldowns with in-game crafted potions, etc.).

Not really sure how such a model would be implement in FF14 though, as I really haven't spent enough time with it.

Derek Loftis
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Wow, those hybrid models had completely slipped my mind. And I think there's a reason. Having those pay to win aspects in the game diminishes that deep rooted reward/pleasure core that get's us addicted, which I would say that if a MMO doesn't have that, then it probably shouldn't be played. But that's just based on my opinions and standards.

Just knowing that no matter how much time you invest into a game, someone can be way stronger than you and only because they spent some extra cash to get these "convenience" items can be a threat to your person. It will eventually lead to you contemplating purchasing the weapon, and based on, I guess your moral stance, you either do, or don't. And I don't want to deal with that kind of thinking while I'm trying to lose myself in the world of an MMO.

I'm very excited for FF14, and even more excited to watch it grow over the years. FF11 is still my favorite MMO experience, and if FF14 turns out to be anything like it, I will be very pleased.

Paul Orlemanski
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I think the days of a game company just releasing a game to the public and saying "this is what we made and you'll like it" is over. All video game companies, regardless of being Western or from Asia should look at what Valve does. They listen to their customer base. I understand that I may sound a little critical here but I beleive the next two game companies to get consumer backlashes will be Capcom ( from charing material withhold on their games) and Activision.

Bernardo Del Castillo
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I'm personally not sure if that is true. I believe that trying to please your audience and doing a good game are not necessarily connected. Of course when the audience does have valid concerns about the game it is wise for the creators to hear them out. However, just bending to every single demand from the players can become a hazard to the game's ultimate direction and vision. Consumers are not game designers, and although they might think they know what they want, their preferences are normally very closely rooted upon what is available at the moment. The best thing you can do as a game designer is to surprise them with something that they didn't know they wanted, but do.

After all most people who play a game like this do so because they like the universe of final fantasy. And in the history of final fantasies, we as players don't really have a say about anything in the game ( other than FF13, I'm normally quite pleased with what square-enix does with his franchise ) players enjoy it because it comes from them, and that is an assurance in style, quality and even innovation. For example, Having played a lot of RPGs, I was used to the standard levelling system: you kill monsters, gather experience and when you level up, you spend the points improving the stats of your character. I personally had never seen a problem or any need to change it. But when Final fantasy 10 introduced the sphere grid levelling system, I loved it. And I would have never thought about it before.

It seems that their approach as to appeal everyone is a bit over-ambitious. As they list themselves playstyles of different people in different places vary greatly. Its hard to think of any game that manages that fully. Final fantasy fans are clearly closer to Japanese design decisions. And they should hold on to that demographic because it is a safe group that is very loyal as they comment on the interview. I am in favour of the Westernisation, in gameplay mechanics, but I wouldn't want their original vision to be watered down in order to create mass appeal.

Having played a bit of FF14, I must say that their real problems were not the company close-mindedness. If you know a bit about interfaces, graphical feedback, streamlining the processes to make the game playable, you cannot release a game like that. Everything in the game at the start was sluggish, slow, and overly convoluted. Combat and character movement were incredibly awkward. In many ways final fantasy 14 played a lot worse than its predecessor 11, it is one of the most poorly executed titles in the franchise, and that is a major flaw. It just didn't live up to the polished standards that the audience has come to expect from a company as SquareEnix. Maybe it will recover from its early troubled state, or maybe its too late for it, I personally hope that the game does evolve into something better.

Kamruz Moslemi
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Exactly, a good designer, not just of games, but any consumer product, does not give people what they ask, but what they need. There is a famous quote by a turn of the century entrepreneur who said it best, I am sure you've all heard that one before, and a 100 years later it still holds true.

Luis Guimaraes
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If Id asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.

Henry Ford

Dustin Chertoff
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I'd really like to give FF14 another shot, since FF11 was the first MMO that I really cut my teeth on. I had played EQ before, but I never really grasped what an MMO could be until FF11. But there have just been so many changes to how MMOs operate between FF11 and now, that I'm not sure the old-school sandbox nature of FF14 can ever truly compete with newer theme-park style offerings. I'm sure there is a happy medium between sandbox and theme-park MMOs, but FF14 doesn't seem to be there just yet. Or maybe I'm just happier with theme-park Western MMOs that give me content to consume. This is very likely a cultural thing, since the majority of sandbox MMOs come out of Asia.