Naoki Yoshida Discusses NA Server Relocation

At the end of the PAX East panel, Naoki Yoshida took a moment to announce that the North American data center would be relocating. This week, Yoshida-san took to the forums to talk about the move in further detail.

The current plan is to have the relocation occur in mid-May and there should only be a maximum of 48 hours downtime. They’re also looking at extending all active service accounts by one day because of this.

Read on for Yoshida’s full forum post.

Important Information Regarding North American Data Center Relocation

Greetings FINAL FANTASY XIV players. As many of you already know, we made a special announcement during the Q&A session held at PAX East regarding the relocation of our North American data center. I understand that this news came as quite a surprise for many, and so I would like to take this opportunity to explain some of the reasons behind this decision, as well as how it will affect users.

Current Facilities
During development for A Realm Reborn, we strongly felt that the establishment of a North American data center was necessary to achieve the type of game experience we wished to provide. Though faced with a tight development and preparation schedule, we were able to realize our goal in time for ARR’s launch.

However, the endeavor hasn’t been without its challenges. The FINAL FANTASY XIV NA data center was Square Enix’s first attempt at establishing game servers outside of Japan, and as such, we have spent much time quietly tackling related problems since the center’s inception four years ago.

Some of these problems have included voltage overload and a lack of physical space for additional servers, ultimately leading to an inability to efficiently optimize servers or expand the scale of data center itself.

As a result, players have been repeatedly inconvenienced with server crashes and protracted server maintenance periods.

Reasons behind the Relocation
Thanks largely in part to support from our loyal fan base, FINAL FANTASY XIV has continued to exhibit steady growth, allowing for even larger company investment into the project. As has been previously announced, with the release of our upcoming expansion Stormblood, we are planning major updates and upgrades to our server system to allow not only for increased server efficiency, but also:

  • Increased inventory capacity
  • Worldless (cross-world) party matching and friend management
  • Additional content & increased field size for new areas

All which we hope will contribute to increased playability.

To achieve these goals and, in turn, be in a position to better provide our user base an ever-improving game experience via future updates, we came to the conclusion that it would be in the project’s best interest to heavily invest in a move to a new data center equipped with more modern facilities.
One section of the new data center.

Servers in the new data center.
While we are aware that many of you are curious as to the actual physical location of the new data center, please understand that for security reasons specific to the operation of an online game, we are unable to divulge that information to the public. What we can tell you is that the servers will remain on North American soil, in an area that features an advanced Internet infrastructure.

Changes to Ping Times
In preparation for the move, we have conducted countless preliminary simulations and on-site verifications regarding ping times. However, due to the physical distance between the old and new data centers, players accessing the NA servers will most likely experience a change in their current ping times. While those who play FINAL FANTASY XIV closer to the new data center will see their ping time fall, those who are now further away from the servers may see those times increase.

FINAL FANTASY XIV was designed to be played in an environment featuring ping times of 200-220 milliseconds or less. Even if players experience an increase in ping times due to the data center relocation, as long as their times remain below 200 ms, then they may rest easy, for there should be no discernable difference in gameplay.

We expect that the players most likely to experience a significant increase in ping times will be those in Europe playing on an NA data center World. We will be working hard to minimize the anticipated increases, but there is the chance that based on their location, some players may be more severely affected by this relocation than others.

Data Center Relocation Schedule
The current plan is to conduct the relocation sometime in mid-May of 2017. Once a date has been solidified, we will make an official announcement on the Lodestone and via other channels.

In conjunction with the relocation, we expect a maximum downtime of 48 hours for those players using the NA servers. The EU and JP data centers will also experience downtime of up to 24 hours to allow for maintenance required to connect existing servers with the new NA data center. To compensate for play time lost, we are looking into extending all active account subscriptions by one day.

In Conclusion
It is rare for an online game, especially one that is currently operating with stability, to relocate data centers, even if the intention is to increase optimization and expandability while improving overall game experience. We did our best to explore options that would allow us to achieve these goals without having to move, but ultimately came to the conclusion that to ensure the continued growth of FINAL FANTASY XIV, relocation was the right choice.

In the coming months, there may be extended periods of maintenance. We humbly ask for your patience and thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we continue our work at providing our community with the best gaming environment possible.

FINAL FANTASY XIV Producer & Director, Naoki Yoshida