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Overview

PlayOnline is the online service provided by Square Enix which is the gateway for users to play any of Square Enix's currently available online titles.

Currently, the only title still supported through this service is FINAL FANTASY XI.

PlayOnline History

PlayOnline.com

PlayOnline was originally launched in 2000 as a website of Square Co., and PlayOnline.com was Square Japan's main games portal, while an in-depth online Final Fantasy IX strategy guide was all that was linked with PlayOnline in North America and Europe at the time. 

In 2003, Square (Now Square Enix) moved all their non-PlayOnline game pages to their square-enix.com homepage, and devoted PlayOnline.com to games linked with the PlayOnline service. As FINAL FANTASY XI launched in North America and Europe, PlayOnline.com pages were made devoted to news and information specific to each region.

Current day PlayOnline Viewer

PlayOnline Viewer

In 2002, with the Japanese launch of FINAL FANTASY XI on the PlayStation 2, the PlayOnline Viewer was introduced.  This program offered users e-mail, chat, manga, strategy guides, account management tools, and additional content for PlayOnline games and non-PlayOnline games.  Some of this included:
  • The Vana'diel Tribune - A monthly feature which provided additional back story to characters, areas, and more found in FINAL FANTASY XI.
  • Tetra Master mini-games - Fortune Cards and a personality test are available to have their fortune read using Tetra Master cards, and to see which Final Fantasy IX character best matched their personality.
  • Special Extras pages - On the Japanese PlayOnline Viewer, special sections were added to help promote upcoming Square Enix products. Some of these included Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Everquest II.

In 2004, the PlayOnline Viewer interface went through two redesigns to try to improve usability, and a "Shortcut" function was added to allow users the ability to go directly to a game's launch page within the Viewer.

All the while, the user base of PlayOnline's games have voiced much displeasure over the PlayOnline Viewer. Many complain that is is slow and clunky, and wish for there to just be a direct launch to the game, avoiding the Viewer altogether.  Square Enix has said that the Viewer has helped with their billing and services cycle, and do not intend on removing the PlayOnline Viewer functionality from current titles.

It was announced at the 2008 Final Fantasy XI Premier Site Summit that PlayOnline will not be used for FINAL FANTASY XIV. Current PlayOnline users though, will be able to carry over their PlayOnline friend list, and be able to send messages to players using PlayOnline services.  As of April 2011, this service as not yet been implemented.

Starting in Spring 2009, the PlayOnline Viewer began offering downloads of additional content packs for FINAL FANTASY XI.

Square Enix Account

Introduced in April 2009, the Square Enix Account system is being viewed as a replacement for PlayOnline for Square Enix online releases, such as Final Fantasy XIV Online.  PlayOnline users can also make use of the Square Enix Account system, which will also allow them to increase their user security using a Square Enix Security Token.

Square Enix Security Token
Much like the Blizzard Authenticator for World of WarCraft players, the Square Enix Security Token gives account holders extra security by offering randomized, 6-digit passwords, to access linked accounts by pushing the red button.  These passwords are only applicable for 60 seconds, and if not entered, the password becomes invalid, and a new number must be generated.

The tokens are available for purchase through the PlayOnline Viewer, and through the SQUARE ENIX Account Management service for US$9.99 / €9.99 / £7.99. This price includes tax and shipping. 

Previously Supported PlayOnline Games

  • Fantasy Earth: The Ring of Dominion (February 23, 2006 - October 31, 2006)
  • Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- (January 26, 2006 - September 29, 2006)
  • Everquest II (June 16, 2005 - July 1, 2006)
  • Front Mission Online (May 12, 2005 - May 31, 2008)
  • Tetra Master (May 16, 2002 - December 31, 2010)
  • JangHoLow - (October 7, 2002 - December 31, 2010)

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