You wouldn't know it, seeing as to how it's become one of the most popular MMOs this 2021, but Final Fantasy XIV wasn't supposed to be here.
In fact, at launch in 2010, Final Fantasy XIV was deemed a huge failure and shut down not long after.
Former Square Enix president, Yoichi Wada, scrapped the entire development team and put Naoki Yoshida, better known as Yoshi-P, at the helm. Yoshida then kept the servers live until late November 2012.
What then transpired next is something that's best described as the comeback of the decade.
Scroll down below to learn more about how Yoshi-P and his team turned a game that was essentially dead in the water into an MMO that can seemingly do no wrong.
How Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Came to Be
Square Enix had actively developed Final Fantasy XIV under the codename "Rapture" back in 2005. However, it wasn't until 2009 that it was formally announced. This included a proper release date on the Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 3 platforms.
Following a tumultuous testing phase that included a delayed beta test, the game servers went live on September 30, 2010.
Unfortunately, the game was met with harsh criticism within hours. This gave Square Enix no choice but to suspend subscription fees and postpone the PlayStation 3 version of the game indefinitely. Also, in November of that same year, Square Enix decided to put Naoki Yoshida as the game's director and producer.
Yoshi-P and his team worked simultaneously on both the original game and an improved version. The latter was specifically designed from the ground-up. It was made to address and improve on all the criticisms lobbied towards the 2010 release.
This "Version 2.0" of Final Fantasy XIV used an entirely new game engine. It also featured a much better server infrastructure, and a unique gameplay experience, interface, as well as story.
Yoshi-P would later decide to shut the original version down in November 2012 with the alpha test for Version 2.0 following soon after. The result of this eventually became the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The game that we all have come to love and know today formally launched in August 2013 to both critical and commercial acclaim.
More Than Just a Revamped Title
What Yoshi-P brought to the franchise was more than just fresh ideas and a commitment to improving on the initial title.
In an interview with PCGamesN back in 2017, Naoki Yoshida described Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn as a "Final Fantasy game", saying that at its core, their goal is to create the main scenario that "players care about".
To that note, in the same interview, he lamented on how he thought that "the level of fan service was somethings lacking", referring to how the Final Fantasy franchise didn't always meet player expectations.
He then emphasizes the importance of embracing fan service and giving players the option to let the developers "know what it is that they want".
Essentially, what Yoshi-P created was an MMO that had everything for everyone that was a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise.
A man of his word, Yoshi-P wasn't just all talk. This is because he really did genuinely care about what players thought of the game. He even went as far as to create the "Letter From the Producer", which is essentially a series of letters that served as a direct line of communication between himself, the producer of Final Fantasy IV: A Realm Reborn, and the rest of the community.
This unprecedented move from Yoshida, which first started in January 2011, helped set the tone for the MMO going forward.
The Future is Bright
As a whole, the Final Fantasy brand attracts multitudes of fans from all over the globe. Each subsequent planned release then creates the dilemma of making sure that the game caters to both fans of old and attracts newer fans at the same time.
As an MMO, FFXIV has a unique and unviable task of doing that all-year-round. However, with Yoshi-P at the helm, there's no doubt that it will be able to weather out the storm.
Of course, Yoshi-P and his team aren't the only ones who deserve credit. The community behind FFXIV also played a huge role. Instead of rolling over and leaving the game for dead after the initial version aired and closed, they remained faithful. They chose to continue to show the game the support it needed to grow and flourish.
With that said, the future of FFXIV is indeed bright, and with Endwalker expected to release sometime later this year, the community is expected to grow once again as a new generation of adventurers seek to try and see what the fuss is all about.