It seems pretty clear to me now that Final Fantasy XI is going to keep running for a long time. I can’t say for certain just how long, but there’s no rumble of anything shutting down any time soon, and the team is making plans not just for the 20-year anniversary but beyond even that. Pretty impressive when you consider that the game has long been placed in an official maintenance mode.
The funny thing is that “maintenance mode” is a fuzzy concept from the start. It’s a studio keeping a game running when it no longer pulls in enough money for active development, but at the same time it’s obviously pulling in enough money to be worth keeping online. Or you’re dealing with a studio that is making enough money through other games to make the cost of this other game incidental. Like I said, it’s vague.
Personally, I’m all for keeping these games online until the last account logs off never to log in again, and possibly longer than that. But at the same time, that may be unrealistic. What do you think? How long should a studio keep an MMO in maintenance mode? Does there come a point when you’d actually prefer a closure?