Final Fantasy 14 Endwalker, the online game's fourth expansion, has proven to be so popular that developer Square Enix has elected to suspend sales of the game until the ongoing server congestion issues have eased.
Director and producer Naoki Yoshida wrote a blog post on the official Final Fantasy 14 website outlining the current state of the game, including announcing the suspension of both physical and digital editions of the game. New registrations for Final Fantasy 14's notoriously generous free trial have also been suspended until further notice.
"Players are currently experiencing extremely long wait times," writes Yoshida, "due to the dense concentration of play hours which far exceed our server capacity, especially during the peak times, and so we have decided to temporarily suspend the sale and delivery of FINAL FANTASY XIV Starter Edition and Complete Edition.
"These temporary suspensions will be phased in over the next few days as we work with our retail partners. We will be coordinating with them as swiftly as possible, but please bear in mind that this will be a gradual process."
It's not all bad news, though. Square Enix is issuing an additional 14 days' worth of free game time to all players who own the full game and have an active subscription. This is in addition to the previous 7 days of free game time that was added just last week. It's a nice gesture, especially for players who are unable to play outside of peak hours and have to wait potentially a few hours in the login queue.
Finally, there's some good news in regards to the dreaded "Error 2002," which has been booting players out of the login queue, seemingly at random, when it exceeds a certain number of players. Much like Endwalker's story, the bug has roots in the original 1.0 version of the game, but Yoshida stressed that the team has identified the cause of the problem, and a fix will accompany the release of patch 6.01 on December 21, 2021.
Everything else, for better or worse, looks to be on schedule, including the high end Pandæmonium Savage raid tier dropping with patch 6.05 on January 4, 2022. Yoshida seemed well aware of the awkwardness of the patch's release period, but stressed that it was for the best, as any further delays would disrupt the long term roadmap for Endwalker, including the major patch 6.1 update that's a few months down the line.
A bold, yet classy move
Final Fantasy 14 shows no signs of slowing down in terms of its growing popularity, so it's genuinely bizarre to see Square Enix apply the brakes itself. Removing a game from sale due to its success is unheard of in the MMORPG space, even if the decision is for the best to help ease login congestion.
Plus, it's hardly the first time Square Enix has faced more sales than it knew what to do with. Prior to the release of Endwalker, Final Fantasy 14 actually ran out of digital copies. This was largely due to a great number of popular Twitch and YouTube streamers trying the game out for the first time, thus encouraging their fans to check it out, too.
Final Fantasy 14 has built up no shortage of goodwill in its player base over the years. That's largely thanks to a development team that recognizes its players as its greatest asset, and not an obstacle to be patronized, as has been the case with other similarly popular MMOs.
These latest decisions are yet another implementation of that philosophy of maintaining a strong rapport with your players. And we really do have to give credit here - Square Enix was willing to take a short term financial hit in order to aid Final Fantasy 14 in the long run. It was undoubtedly a tough decision to suspend sales of the game, but one that we can all agree on is for the best.