FFXIV probably should have been shut down. It most likely should have become free to play with your typical cash shop set up, waiting for those “whales” to drop hundreds of dollars into it. It was by far mostly regarded as a train wreck of an MMO. At the very least it seemed like a really expensive misguided project. Yet it’s still alive. Not only alive but coming back with a subscription model. FFXIV is not likely to be everyone’s cup of tea but as people of our hobby I think it’s fairly interesting seeing this game going through such a unique metamorphoses.
Sometimes my character would just stand there toe to toe with a monster after I had depleted it’s HP to zero. Only for it to collapse after awkwardly looking at me as if it forgot what it’s role was in a scene of a stage play. Beta hiccups! I told myself that many times with a myriad of other issues that came up. After a few months of playing I had given up. Nothing had really improved, this is just a bad game. A lot of FFXIV was poorly optimized. At the very least it felt like it wasn't ready to be sold. Strangely enough you can see production value in various spots of the game but then sorely lacking in others. Setting aside it’s networking issues, fairly obvious things like map design were atrocious. The best maps were the one’s with the least details because a barren landscape didn't have much way of copy and pasted landmarks. The game was so bad that SE decided to make it free to play and retooled it’s staff.
I only kept track of FFXIV’s progress off hand. All I knew is that some guy called Yoshi P was in charge now. I think it’s important to note the crazy people that stuck with the game. Dedicated players that saw something in this hot mess that others didn't. If it wasn't for them the current FFXIV may not exist the way it does now. My general understanding is that the current development team created and improved content while working on the big change, the so called FFXIV 2.0. Going as far as justifying it through lore, they tore apart the old FFXIV to recreate it. What’s cool about this is that all along the development process Yoshida and staff communicate a lot with the community. Even having one to two hour live streams taking suggestions and answering questions. It’s a little more common in the western world of video games, but what about Japanese? As far as I know not too common being this transparent or directly communicating with community. The only thing that really comes to mind are the developer commentary videos for Bayonetta. FFXIV ARR connects it’s relaunch with it’s player base. Old players, or “Legacy” players have become warriors of light. Very much in a Final Fantasy fashion players were saved by being sent into the future their bodies bearing a mark of survival. Besides keeping original characters their introduction and some NPC dialogue differs from normal players. It’s not that big of story deviation as one would like but cool nonetheless.
Yoshida wants FFXIV to be a successful pay to play MMO in a free to play world. It’s uncertain on how this will shake out, but he does have some decent points for the pay model. Thinking back on all the MMO and free to play games I’ve played I always gave up for the same reasons. Setting aside games that were just low production value and/or bad, good games were led to ruin because of how the cycle of pay items went. There aren't many DOTA 2’s around that seem to have this stuff down in a way that seems fair. After participating in the beta I can say that I want to play more of FFXIV ARR, probably every night for a while. I’m going to subscribe to this game without a problem. That said, any MMO’s true merit is shown months down the line when content starts to run dry. Will we have more things to do? If Yoshi P has his way there should be. Quite a few people want to believe so at least.
It’s nuts that FFXIV ARR exists in it's current form, or at all. A Square Enix pay to play MMO based off a failed pay to play MMO with a Japanese development team tasked to fix an expensive mistake being communicative and transparent with it’s fan base while actually showing positive results as of it’s beta. It’s kind of neat.