Come nightfall in Final Fantasy 14’s housing districts, everything changes. Idyllic residential areas become filled with bright lights and thumping music. Dancers, bards, and DJs ply their trade and bring partygoers from across Eorzea to their elaborate and extravagant venues.
Enterprising party animals have been busy converting player housing into happening clubs in one of the most fascinating and strangely wholesome trends to come out of one of the best MMO games. What’s even more curious is that, despite some parts of the world slowly opening up again after Covid lockdowns, this unlikely scene has been going from strength to strength.
Nights to remember
Anwyth Stormweaver, one of the top brass of the Crimson Hearts Free Company (Free Companies are Final Fantasy 14’s equivalent of Guilds), unexpectedly found herself in a nightclub one evening.
“It came in the aftermath of a wedding we hosted for another Free Company”, she said. “Our FC got invited to the afterparty, and so did I.” The event took place at Flashback Injection, a popular Final Fantasy 14 nightclub which made quite an impression. “The decoration was amazing” and “there was a live DJ streaming through Twitch so everyone could listen to the same track… exactly like a silent club.” The place was full of “frenetic dancers” as well as “official dancers who got their own raised stage”. Since then, Anwyth has been returning to the club most Fridays.
A “mix of factors” have contributed to the popularity of Final Fantasy clubs. “Covid made people stay at home a lot,” Anwyth says, “with discos and clubs being the first to be shut down.” On top of that, there’s also “the appeal of hanging with people you can’t go hang out with in real life, because they live in another city or in another country.”
MMOs have always helped bridge literal and figurative social divides, and it would appear that the Final Fantasy 14 nightclub scene is no different. Players of all kinds are coming away from these clubs with their social needs met; especially important in difficult times.
Final Fantasy XIV Venues is wholly dedicated to scouting out and cataloging the MMO’s digital spaces. The website is a vast directory of all sorts of different kinds of in–game spaces, each with its own flavors and aesthetics, from libraries to taverns, though the recent emphasis on the nightclub scene has caused a boom in visitors.
According to one of their Indexers, Kana Ki, the website’s traffic doubled in April 2022. On top of that, they’ve enjoyed a steady rise in weekly site traffic, up a whopping eight times since then.
What’s clear is that, despite the relaxing of Covid restrictions in some countries, Final Fantasy 14’s nightclubs have an enduring appeal. Rather than act as a mere substitute for big nights out in meatspace, they offer something unique and enduring to their attendees.
The appeal may well lie in the sheer variety of experiences on offer. Endless Nights Events, one of Final Fantasy 14’s biggest player–created events communities, offers a prime example of the range of social appetites that are catered for. Though classic nightlife is abundant, quieter venues are surprisingly popular, too. Roleplay (the act of pretending to be your character) can offer a playful, escapist twist, as well. Venues dedicated to this kind of joyful escapism are fairly common and are often encouraged by the Final Fantasy 14 community team. The attractions on offer across the game are as diverse and interesting as the players themselves.
Work hard, play hard
Every venue must be meticulously constructed through Final Fantasy 14’s housing customization system with all the aesthetic rigor one might expect. Given the sheer number of clubs and venues on offer, it is vital to offer something unique.
Owner of The Solstice Equinox, a “seasonal themed nightclub”, Jade Orchid describes herself as a “veteran club owner”.
“I can honestly say there isn’t a moment that I’m not thinking about the venue”, she says, going on to outline a weekly routine of staffing, inventory checks and booking talent” from “across Eorzea”. Fortunately for Jade, it’s clear that her work pays off. “Seeing so many having a good time is its own reward”, she says. “As long as people are having a good time, I’ve done my job right.”
Getting the right staff is key. According to Jade, when it comes to “what party goers want”, a savvy venue owner must have bards, Twitch streaming DJs, and even dancers on call. It isn’t enough to simply design an aesthetically pleasing venue, you’ve got to provide that elusive je ne sais quoi that makes or breaks any club, real or virtual: “atmosphere”.
Though some staff do charge in–game resources for their services, most are volunteers. It is, when all is said and done, about community rather than commercialism. “Most of all”, concludes Jade, it’s about having a “good time after working our butts off during our nine to fives in our real lives”. If video games have taught us one thing, it’s that a little bit of joyful escapism can go a long way.
Saturday night fever
MMOs have long provided fertile ground for emergent community projects. Final Fantasy 14 is not new in this regard, but it is clear that the bold scope and open-ended nature of its housing system has allowed something truly special to emerge. In the age of Discord, these communities enjoy extra layers of social interactivity and engagement, pushing the limits of what can be achieved within an MMO community. Rather than offering a pale imitation of a nightclub experience, these intrepid Eorzeans have created something organic and genuine, replete with all the welcoming and escapist qualities that make community–driven play truly special.
So, the next time you find yourself in Eorzea, perhaps off the back of Final Fantasy 14's free trial, why not hit up some friends, roll up to the club and dance the night away? I hear there’s a great bard playing.