Saturday, January 21, 2023

Can't Leave It Alone, Can You?

I said I would, so I am. Or I will be. It's taking a while. Four hours, apparently, although it's speeded up some since I took the screenshot.

Square's infamously archaic front end gives the strangest first impression, doesn't it? I mean, I realise it's nothing compared to the PlayOnline version FFXI still uses but still...

Even as I typed that, I wondered if it was even true any more. It has to be fifteen years since I last logged into FFXI. Maybe longer. So I typed "PlayOnline" into Google and I'm pleased to say it looks a little less terrifying, albeit much the same as I remember. 

There's a Free Trial, too. I was curious, so I clicked. This is what I got:

Well, that's encouraging. I'm sure it's all perfectly fine, though...

Not that I want to play FFXI, which I remember as being one of the most ferociously solo-unfriendly mmorpgs imaginable, but I was kind of curious to try it with a controller, now I have one. It was the insane PC controls that put me off last time. Apart from that, I quite liked it. Oh, well, maybe later.

While I'm on the subject, how come you can play the base game and first expansion of FFXIV absolutely free but the ancient and allegedly "in maintenance mode" FFXI still requires a subscription? Is it intended to dissuade people from playing the older game in favor of the newer, in which case, why have a free trial at all? (Yes, I found a link to that page that doesn't kick off a securty alert.)

Arguably odder yet is the exact nature of the "free" version of FFXIV, which as this detailed breakdown explains, is also, technically a "Free Trial" not, as it would first appear, a F2P offer with level limits and restrictions, such as you see in other games like EverQuest, EverQuest II or Star Wars: the Old Republic

That's if the information in the article is up to date. It's from 2021 so it may not be. The reason I linked it first, rather than the official web page, is that nothing on Square's site clearly explains that once you convert your "Trial" account, not only do you have to start paying a subscription, which obviously makes sense, but that you can never go back to playing that same account without one. You'll never see your characters again unless you pay up each month, which these days feels almost immoral.

It's why I can play FFXIV on an account I made after the Free Trial was added but can't use the same offer to log in my older characters on my original account. It's also why I will never be able to subscribe to FFXIV for the odd month here and there, as I have done for World of Warcraft and SW:tOR, which does seem an awful lot like that "leaving money on the table" thing companies are supposed to hate. 

I guess Square don't care. After all, they've had a lot more problems of late with too many people wanting to play their flagship title than too few. They really don't need to offer any concessions to bring in the business.

It's no fur off my tail. There's absolutely no chance I'll ever get a character far enough up the level ladder for the restrictions to matter and in any case there are orders of magnitude more content in the free trial than I'll ever see. 

Or want to. Yesterday, Asmiroth at Leo's Life posted a detailed precis of all the things there are to do in the game and it sent a chill through my veins. It doesn't sound so much like a leisure activity as it does a life choice. 

Then again, you could say the same about most mmorpgs. Best taken in small doses, all of them, that's my feeling these days. That's how I intend to take FFXIV, if and when it finally sets itself up, which as I type, should be right around... now!

Let's go see if it works.


  1. I guess I shouldn't be surprised you created a Cat Girl. (Or whatever they're called.)

    Although I've never actually done anything there, my son keeps needling me to try the game out. And no, I had no idea that once you sign up for a sub you can't go back and get the "free" area at all, so I think that's been another thing to keep me away, as I'm not a big fan of multiple accounts for the same game. Ah well.

    I am very curious to see what you think, because I truly enjoy your perspective on MMOs, Bhaggy.

    1. If I hadn't cropped that character shot you'd have been able to see she's level 33 so it's not a fresh start, just a return. There are a bunch of posts somewhere on here about the free trial when it started and my pleasure in the way it allowed me to just explore the world without having to follow the MSQ. It's been a while since I last played, though - years, probably.

      My character on the original account was a Lalafell, the gnomish little people. I prefer that race to the catlike Miqo'te but I didn't want to repeat the same experience. It's a moot point in FFXIV, though, where glamoring yourself to change gender and race is like putting on a different hat. I'm not sure how integrated that process is into the world itself or whether it's a meta-concept only visible to the player. Might be interesting to find out. It would have almost incalculable impact on a society if anyone could switch race and gender instantly, at will, wouldn't it?


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