The Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest 2024 in Tokyo Experience
This past weekend, the third and final Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival took place in Tokyo, Japan leading up to the release of Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail. This year’s Japan Fan Fest was held in the Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team. The Tokyo Dome is a premier venue in Japan that, at a capacity of 55,000, is also used for big concerts and events. While we’re not sure if Square Enix sold quite that many tickets, it does seem like this was the biggest event the company has ever held for FFXIV.
We sent our JP event correspondents Jan and Alex, armed with their cameras, to see what the event had to offer.
Due to the space available in the venue, many of the attractions were located fairly close to the stage which sat in the middle of the dome. Our attendees were torn, with Jan saying he felt it was a distraction to the main stage, while Alex said it made the event more lively and fun. “Kind of like Limsa, but you don’t actually want to leave.”
Previous Fan Festivals around the world have taken place in other large spaces, specifically convention halls. While the Tokyo Dome offered some benefits like plentiful TV placements throughout, it was also difficult to navigate with the large crowd.
Jan told us, “If you are waiting in line for merch, food, or the dreaded bathroom, you can keep up with the main stage events as it is played live on the myriad number of TVs, and live audio is played as well. However, because the lines for the above are also in the walkways around the stadium, you are often shoulder to shoulder with other patrons. Coronavirus prevention was a major concern, and it was nice to see around 70% of the attendees wore masks, even if it was not required. Staff wore masks, as most Tokyo venue staff require them to do so.”
Alex then added, “The hallways were absolutely smashed, but the TVs were nice. It felt like you were still included in the event even if you were out of the main hall,” going on to also say, “The actual layout of Tokyo Dome was rather confusing. I much preferred when the event was held at Big Sight, since getting around was a lot more straightforward.”
The event had a variety of activities, from the Battle Challenge seen at previous events (Tokyo attendees were given stickers upon duty completion), to a gigantic dice roll that, if won, would earn participants dice from the upcoming FFXIV TTRPG game. They also had some other activities that required an additional fee in order to participate, such as a batting challenge where Alphinaud threw dragon eyes.
Jan told us “It felt like there were more stands for sponsors than actual activities. There was also a larger open space that hosted some displays of city-state dioramas as well as some very fancy plates. We also noticed some FFXIV-themed crane games, photo spots, and places for community meetups.”
He continues, “Additionally, the Fan Festival had a puzzle event that would lead you around the entire Tokyo Dome area, but unfortunately I was not too enthused to crowd surf to look for all of the items or clues for it. Venue lockers were disabled, meaning I wasn’t able to store any of my photography gear, which in turn made me a bigger target to bump into in the Tokyo Dome’s already narrow walkways.”
We also asked Alex what she thought of the events and she told us that she enjoyed the stage events and some of the activities, as well as the general vibe the event offered. She then added “That said, I missed the hands-on experiences of previous events (like making holiday cards, or doing other crafts and card games). I particularly enjoyed the dice roll event this year, though it was a shame that you only got to roll once… I’d appreciate more hands-on activities at the next event to spread people out and reduce waiting times. Those kinds of smaller events also allow you to more easily connect and chat with other attendees instead of just trying to smash through the mob. I think this event tried to do that with the photo opportunities (which were neat), but more varieties of activities would’ve been nice.”
There were also a handful of glass displays that showcased upcoming merch. Premiering at the event were the brand new Meister Quality Zodiark and Hydaelyn statue, and the Alphinaud and Alisaie Dollfie Dream dolls. No dates or price points were given for them at this time.
Lastly, we asked what they thought of the event overall. Jan replied, “I had fun (even if I was only able to attend for the first day due to personal circumstances). People seemed to enjoy it, but I sometimes overheard attendees asking their friends if they wanted to attend the entire second day or just attend during specific times. Personally, I was hoping for more field attractions/activities. Walking through the crowd was also pretty tiring, as I was constantly bumped into with my gear.”
Overall, the Tokyo event seemed to go over well, but it wasn’t without its flaws. It seems that the large convention halls of previous events were preferred over the narrow, crowded walkways of the Tokyo Dome. It also looks like there perhaps wasn’t quite enough there to hold the interest of some attendees for the full two day event.
Looking back at everything now that all three Fan Fests have concluded, it seems that, after coming back from a years-long break due to the pandemic, Square Enix struggled with maintaining the quality of previous events while scaling up to meet the demands of a growing playerbase. We’re eager to see how they incorporate feedback from all three events to improve things going forward. With the game now at 30 million registered players, the number of Final Fantasy XIV fans wanting to attend a big event like Fan Fest is only going to increase.
In the meantime, we’ll be waiting for Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail to launch this summer on PlayStation, Xbox Series, and PC. Make sure to get caught up on the latest announcements from the Tokyo keynote here.
Photos taken by Gamer Escape. Access to the event provided by Square Enix.