Final Fantasy 14 may be in for a content drought, but it’s ‘the great community that keeps it fresh’

Husky plays the guitar while G'raha Tia and Tataru cheer him on
(Image credit: Square Enix / Husky by the Geek)

On January 16, Final Fantasy 14 dropped its last major patch of this expansion cycle. It brought in shiny new weapons, story quests, and an entirely fresh boss battle, all of which are liable to amuse players for a few weeks or so. 

However, following this major patch comes the long march towards the game’s next expansion, Dawntrail, which is currently slated for a summer release. Those in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) space call these waiting periods ‘content droughts’, in which players have to make do with existing activites without the promise of anything new immediately on the horizon. 

Husky by the Geek, a YouTube musician renowned for his covers of Final Fantasy 14 themes, stated: “It’s normal for MMOs to have this problem; people come back. Even [director and producer] Naoki Yoshida has been saying since [the game’s relaunch in 2014] that it’s OK to take a break and play other games.” 

In contrast to Husky by the Geek, Joesephyr, a variety streamer who plays Final Fantasy 14 regularly, was keen to stress that these periods can be an issue for MMO communities. “I still adore the game [but] it just feels like there’s nothing to look forward to.

“There’s a real market that’s missing in a lot of [MMORPGs] nowadays, where you have the extremes of people who are there for the story first and foremost [...] and the people that are there for the ultimate level content and don’t really care about anything else.” According to Joe, this leaves a “big gap in the middle” which can lead to the neglect of an  “important facet of the player base.”

This, in turn, produces discontent with certain parts of the playerbase. Prominent Final Fantasy 14 streamer and Twitch Ambassador ReadySetBen talks about “patch players” - those who flock to the MMORPG when new content drops only to “disappear” once “they got everything they needed.” These sorts of players give the game a much-needed injection of engagement, and six months without them looks to be a hard pill for the Final Fantasy 14 community to swallow.  

Middle management 

Thancred talks to the locals

(Image credit: Square Enix)

But while content droughts are standard fare in the MMORPG world, especially in the run-up to a new expansion, there are specific weaknesses in Final Fantasy 14’s latest updates, which make the looming dry spell look tougher than usual. Between patches 6.1 and 6.5, we’ve seen a fair few issues that make this upcoming lull especially daunting, such as a more hit-and-miss main storyline coupled with a lack of accessible and rewarding endgame content, which has led some players to feel let down.  

When speaking with Husky about this, the musician made it clear that though he “liked the 6.1 to 6.5 story,” he was also aware of a “pacing issue that other players didn’t like.” Endwalker, the most recent expansion, ended a decade-long story on a high note, but the story-based patch content since then has told a self-contained tale that has seemed underwhelming in comparison. 

While subscriber numbers have seen a consistently upward trend since the game’s launch, the mixed reception of these post-Endwalker patches has caused more than a few wobbles. In the wake of patch 6.5, Final Fantasy 14 has seen a 13% drop in active players, far greater than previous post-patch drops, which usually number below 3%.  

A lack of accessible and rewarding endgame content has led some players to feel let down

A dip of some kind is to be expected in the shadow of the upcoming Dawntrail expansion, but it’s likely that this more pronounced decline in active players comes as a result of a lack of meaningful yet accessible endgame content for subscribers.  According to Joesephyr, what they call “midcore” content has suffered “in comparison to previous expansions.” For those not in the know, ‘midcore’ refers to content that, while rewarding player commitment, can be picked up on a more ad-hoc basis without hours of planning and preparation. These sorts of activities are the bread and butter for MMO endgames, creating a sense of progression from players without being too demanding on a player’s time.

Joesephyr continues, “I only really have Stormblood and Shadowbringers to compare to, but I do think it is particularly lacking in comparison to those two, and because of it, I think a lot of players will fall off.” 

He spoke fondly of Bozja and Eureka, large, open areas from the Shadowbringers and Stormblood expansions, respectively, where players could band together in groups and take on tough world bosses and multiplayer dungeons. For Joe, these areas offered a sweet spot for players who wanted to invest in the MMORPG but who “didn’t [want] to put in weeks of research beforehand like you would with the highest level content.”

Those who play together stay together 

Final Fantasy 14

(Image credit: Square Enix)

But this time, without the likes of Bojza or Eureka to keep ‘midcore’ players busy, it certainly looks as though the Final Fantasy 14 community might be in for a tough six months. 

However, despite all this, there’s still a lot of optimism and goodwill within the community. “There’s still so much to do,” says ReadySetBen. “What keeps it fresh is the content you make for yourself. Sometimes it’s about supporting all the other people that are experiencing [the game] for the first time, and that’s something I’ve never seen in a video game before.” 

For Ben, this all happens in the context of a great community. For many, Final Fantasy 14 is more than just a source of content - it's a group of friends with shared experiences who have lived the story together. This element is vital for Husky, too, who stated, “The vast majority of the community is caring. It’s very rare for me to meet a toxic person in Final Fantasy 14; most are chill and passionate. My girlfriend and I usually don’t like overcrowded places, but at the [2024 London] Fanfest, we felt secure even with so many people. They’re just so chill.” 

What keeps it fresh is the content you make for yourself

ReadySetBen

Ben added, “Ultimately, it’s all down to the community.” As we speak, as if on cue, he notices a performance group of bards setting up near his character in one of the game’s major cities. “There [are] quite a few people just standing around and watching,” he gleefully observes.“Things like that break up the day,” he continues, “you’re not logging in to do nothing; you’re logging in to have fun regardless of whether there’s new content or no new content.”

Even though some Final Fantasy 14 players might not be eating as well as usual these days, these sorts of unique, emergent, player-driven activities don’t seem like they’re going anywhere. As important as content updates might be, the lifeblood of an MMO is its people. And as Ben puts it in a final phrase: “I loved it because of the story, but I stayed because of the community.”

Final Fantasy 14 is one of the best MMOs out there, as well as one of the best JRPGs you can play right now. 

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent. 


Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure. 


Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.