In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz yesterday, Final Fantasy XIV Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida talked about player numbers and catching up to World of Warcraft’s numbers.
When talking about the subscription business model that Final Fantasy XIV has held since it was released, he had this to say:
“That being said, if 80% or 90% of our players are demanding we go free-to-play, then we might need to look at shifting our business model, but we would also need to change our game design to match that business model. It all depends on what the game design should be based on what our players’ needs are.”
Fortunately for players, most of those currently subscribed to the game are aware that the regular updates to the game are a direct result of their subscription fees. Moving to any type of free to play model that relies on inconsistent revenue could potentially deal a huge blow to the regular patch cycle that we currently have.
Former FFXIV Producer Hiromichi Tanaka and former Online Producer Sage Sundi put it best when talking with 4Gamer in 2009 before the game’s original release:
“Sundi acknowledges that micropayment style MMORPGs are very popular at the moment. However, he says they don’t tend to last long because of how much people end up spending. Tanaka says sometimes the average is between 4000 and 5000 yen per month (roughly $40 to $50 USD) and Sundi says that also means there are people who pay even more than that. They don’t want to see FFXIV have its lifespan shortened by something like that.”
It makes sense that Yoshida-san isn’t completely closed to the idea of Final Fantasy XIV moving to a new business model, after all, this is the same man who, when asked about Final Fantasy XIV coming to the Nintendo Switch, didn’t immediately say no, even though they were about to drop support for the PlayStation 3.
Looking at Square Enix’s history with MMOs, a move to a free to play model would be quite a surprise, considering that Final Fantasy XI, now in its 15th year of operation still uses their subscription based model, with having made zero changes to the fee required of its players.
So will we see a F2P FFXIV any time soon? Probably not. The game is currently going strong and I can’t help but feel that a move to F2P, if it ever does happen, would be more likely to come towards the end of its lifespan, which we hopefully won’t see for some time.