It’s no secret that Final Fantasy XIV has seen a surge of players looking to log-in and experience all that the game has to offer. Queue times across all data centers have increased as a result, so Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida has written a letter to players to let everyone know what’s going on, and what the team is planning to do about it.
In the letter, Yoshida states that all versions of the game are seeing record users, including the locally operated Chinese and Korean versions. Most impacted by these numbers however is the NA and EU regions, with them seeing queues of 10-20 minutes, or up to 40 minutes respectively.
For NA servers, it just so happens that the data centers were recently upgraded and so they’ll be increasing the number of simultaneous logins by about 750 per world. A comparable upgrade to the EU servers is still pending, so they’ll do their best to optimize the existing servers.
The team has also decided to turn on a feature that’s usually reserved for the timing of new expansions- the game will automatically kick players that AFK for more than 30 minutes in an effort to allow other players to log in. They also plan to expand on the feature to address the expected increase in players when Endwalker launches.
It should also be noted that those playing the Final Fantasy XIV free trial, (which now lets you level up to 60 and includes the critically acclaimed expansion Heavensward) will not be placed into the login queue, as it prioritizes paying customers. Those on the free trial will only be able to login once a world’s queue has been cleared.
Of course, the big question that everyone thinks when they hear about congestion and login queues is “Why not just add more servers?” Of course, Yoshida understands this as well and explains what’s happening behind the scenes in regards to new hardware. Semiconductor shortages, in addition to travel restrictions due to COVID-19 make both obtaining, and implementing new hardware very difficult. They originally were looking at plans to have new servers or data centers for 7.0, however, they are now reevaluating their timeline to see if they can speed that process up. Yoshida states that they have looked into paying more than market value for hardware, and that some members of the team are looking into getting their COVID vaccinations so they can acquire vaccine passports in order to plan in-person visits to the data centers. (Yoshida stresses that they’re respecting each staff members opinion on the matter and are putting their safety first).
It’s rare to see Final Fantasy XIV having server issues of this scale, and for as long as I can remember, any time there have been any larger server issues, it’s because the game is more popular than they anticipated. While inconvenient from the end user’s point of view, as a game and as a community, having so many people wanting to play is, ultimately, a very good thing.