One of the last holdouts among MMOs that require a subscription is Final Fantasy XIV. We’ve mused on the (low) possibility that it could someday go free-to-play, and we’re not the only ones. Even FFXIV Game Director Naoki Yoshida, a.k.a. Yoshi-P acknowledged it could happen “if 80% to 90% of our players” wanted it.
That happened a year ago this month, but now Yoshida is singing a different tune. In an interview with Korean website Inven, Yoshida answered several wide-ranging questions about the game, covering update 4.3, translations, and class balance. Thanks to a translation from Redditor Tsunari, we can also read about Yoshida’s trip to Blizzard, where he met with new president J. Allen Brack and members of the World of Warcraft team, who “greeted us in FFXIV shirts.”
When asked about free-to-play, though, Yoshida seems quite adamant in his (lengthy) response:
Absolutely not. It’s a business after all and we look at profits through games. However, we consider the close trust between developers and players than simply trying to maximize the profit in short period of time.
Games like Dragon Quest Builder recently released in Korea and FFXIV are in similar in that sense–It’s all about that “if these guys made this game, it’s a safe bet to pay and likely to enjoy it myself.” It’s much beneficial for us in the long run.
In the developer’s perspective, we think that quick profit is not the right way. Even if FFXIV is making sizable profit surprisingly well, we do not want to push players to reach further in their wallet. Instead, it would be better to encourage at least 2 to 3 times the population with lowered spending per individual, establishing healthy continuation of 3 to 10 years in sight. Hence we have no plan for F2P at all.
In addition, this “Social game” market in Japan is in rough condition. Many games do not last past 2 months and the way I see it is the broken trust between the developers and the players by looking at the profit than anything else. Only thing left out after all the games born and dead were Characters and IPs.
It’s hardly able to tell whoever made these characters and games’ IP after companies vanish. It’s the same end for us if we were to employ similar methods of operation. However, we believe games or musics need to have a sort of culture cultivated instead of merely leaving with characters and IP.
If we look at F2P and its profit model, we’re going to walk the same plank these Social games in Japan have walked on-we’re definitely going to avoid that in the first place by not doing it at all. Global FFXIV is incredibly profitable for us right now and we want to assure you that we’re holding the same future as we promised to the adventurers when they first started.
I’ve noticed someone in front of me has Rockstar sticker on the laptop, the company that made GTA series. If I were to run a game company, I want to run just like that. There’s certainly a sense of trust in thought of “It’s the company that made GTA series.”
In the next question, Yoshida does mention the presence of Korean PC cafes (“bangs”) and how they, and the overall Korean economy, could have an impact on pricing model. So it’s possible that his denial of F2P for FFXIV is related only to its Korean version and not a statement on how he thinks the game will be priced worldwide in the future.
It’s also refreshing to hear him recognize that F2P can all too often “push players to reach further in their wallet,” though it’s not as if the Final Fantasy “characters and IP” haven’t been used in free-to-play games — some better received than others.
That said, it seems like Yoshi-P has enough control over his particular product that he’s able to convince his higher-ups at Square Enix that the current way they do business is for the best and there are no plans to change things. Unlike some game developers who insist their game won’t ever go free-to-play, I actually believe him.