What would get me to stop liking Final Fantasy XIV?
It’s not exactly new or surprising to say that I’m fond of this game; a good chunk of my career has been predicated upon my enjoyment of the title thus far, and I use it frequently as an example of how to do things right with an MMO. I like it a lot and I think it’s good, due in no small part to it consistently being good. But there are red lines just the same, things that the developers could do that would at least damage and might even demolish my affections.
If you’ve been in the Bozjan Southern Front, you might be thinking that we’ve long since passed the point wherein this could be a real concern… but you probably then realized that I’m not just talking about a box with random contents. I hate those, sure, but I’m not dropping $5 on each chance to get another danged Indigo Star instead of the Gabriel mount.
I don’t mind the fact that FFXIV has a cash shop in addition to its subscription fee, but lockboxes would definitely be a bothersome point that would result in some rather angry questions. There are already things that do bother me about the cash shop, and this would be the sort of thing that would throw every irritation into stark relief. And I don’t like lockboxes in any setting.
The best I can say about these things in games I otherwise like is that they aren’t game-ruining. In some cases (Star Trek Online springs to mind) it’s already a very near thing. While I sincerely doubt that such an offering would in any way wreck the game’s power curve, it would be an egregious way of disrupting the game’s otherwise fairly even-handed distribution of glamour items and minions.
This would be true even if the lockboxes just consisted of already available items or potentially items otherwise requiring purchase of outside materials. It’s just a bad look and shouldn’t be on the table. Period end.
Fortunately, there’s no sign of this coming to pass. For that matter, there’s no sign of any of these coming to pass; it’s just worth noting the line.
Direct buying of gil
Here’s one that I don’t have a problem with in a lot of places. But there’s a reason why, say, I have no problem with purchasing gold in World of Warcraft via the WoW Token or the Zen Exchange in the aforementioned STO while I do have a lot of problems with this being a thing in FFXIV.
The biggest reason? In WoW, gold isn’t terribly important.
It’d be a lie to say that gold is worthless in WoW, of course. If it were, the aforementioned token wouldn’t be important anyhow. But when it comes to things like gear power or the expansion’s latest borrowed power mechanic or anything else, you can’t really use gold. The currency exchange isn’t degenerate in that regard.
By contrast, FFXIV has a lot of really valuable stuff that does rely on gil. You can buy gear that puts you into a decent endgame spot. You have housing. You have viable player-run markets and economies that run fundamentally on the idea that player money is earned through play, and you have no equivalent way of buying either a special currency or subscription time.
A lot of damage would be done if players could drop $20 and pick up a huge chunk of gil in one go. Markets would be demolished, and suddenly some of the more valuable things you can get in the game would become an exercise in spending real money. It wouldn’t do anything good for the game. Heck, it’d possibly be a real loss for Legacy players, since one of the big advantages of Legacy status is a discounted subscription price.
The housing thing, though… that’s a big deal. That one is enormous. In fact…
Anything involving money to get housing
Look, I just spend last week explaining how the roots of the game’s housing problems may not be down to what the design team wants to do. But none of that changes the fact that there is a problem with housing. And the thought of the problem being mitigated chiefly by dropping some cash is nauseating.
Seriously, I dislike the land-rush nature of housing to begin with. I hate it even more to think of someone paying for priority access to get housing, or dropping real money to reserve a housing plot ahead of time, or anything of the sort. The rush to claim a house is already bad, but it’s at least as fair as it can be within the context of different computer hardware.
Or to put it more succinctly, as bad as it is, it could be worse. And considering I already think it’s pretty bad, this is notably worse.
This is, as mentioned, one of the reasons I’d dislike having some sort of built-in conversion for real money. After all, if you can just buy gil, suddenly the price of housing plots isn’t any sort of modifier. But I think that anything with more connection to housing than just purchasing decor items is pretty gross.
Gating story behind Savage (or the equivalent)
I know, the prior examples were mostly about business model antics. But I wanted to have this one in the last spot because it is a lesson that the development team has seemingly learned to avoid. The Binding Coil of Bahamut gated some rather important story developments behind what was ultimately progression raiding, but that tradition ended with the first expansion and it has subsequently remained a fact that Savage doesn’t get extra story.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been tweaks, of course. Stormblood and onward have featured extra elements to the fights and usually a different “final” stage for each ending fight, and in some cases (like with Shiva) you could argue that these stages are a touch of extra storytelling. That having been said, the general rule has remained fairly set and players get their story through normal modes, not through additional difficulties.
If that changed? Yeah, I’d be first in line to protest that decision. I sincerely doubt it will, though, seeing as how it seems like the team has generally been happy with where the split comes down for Savage vs. normal. But the point of all of this is that these aren’t likely, just possible.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I want to talk about the next expansion and when we’ll know more about it… or when we’ll possibly know.