So let’s go back to the lead-in to that big media tour information drop for Final Fantasy XIV, shall we? A whole lot of FFXIV content creators, including me, were sitting on a whole bunch of information on the expansion that we couldn’t yet share, and that included a full lineup of the tooltips for all of the various abilities in the game, from new abilities to improved ones to wholly unchanged abilities.
And then someone leaked a bunch of those tooltips. And while I don’t know who that person or people were, I sincerely wish that the leaker/leakers were treated to an exceedingly painful itch right where it’s difficult to reach.
See, here’s the thing: If all I provide is a listing of tooltips, I have done a shitty job.
The point of these media tours is not figuring out which job is doing top DPS or anything like that. Even if you ignore the fact that numbers are still being tweaked for balance purposes (and they absolutely are), the simple reality is that it’s not the question being asked, and it’s not the one being answered at this stage of development. We’re not being shown this early build to figure out what’s best and what is lagging behind.
What we’re in the media tour to do is to analyze all of this from a player perspective. Does Reaper succeed at its goal at being the second-highest melee DPS just behind Samurai? I have no idea. What I do know is that the job feels good and flows smoothly while being complicated to play. That’s the sort of context that is way more important.
That’s also the sort of context that is missing from tooltips offered without further explanation. That’s just information, and it gives the (incorrect) impression that balancing is all done, numbers are final, and all that’s left is just waiting for the expansion to be run in and shipped because there’s nothing else to be done for balancing purposes.
Oh, wait, that’s not what’s happening at all. Balancing is being done right up until the final moments and testing is ongoing because FFXIV is made by a team that cares about what it puts out and works hard at providing the best possible experience. The reason that all of these tooltips aren’t already available isn’t because the developers just forgot to publish them or doesn’t care; it’s because the tooltips devoid of context aren’t actually giving you an accurate picture.
Square-Enix has definitely had periods when communication was not its strong suit, but that has not been the case with FFXIV more or less since Naoki Yoshida took over. If anything, it’s been consistently improving since Yoshida took charge. When something isn’t being communicated, the reason is never because the team doesn’t trust you; it’s because it isn’t ready yet.
“Oh, then why do you have the media tour before you can share information?” Because the media tour lasts several days. The embargo on that information wasn’t put there so that content creators and journalists got The Fun Stuff before you did; it was so that everyone has a fair stretch of time to finish putting content together. I wrote thousands of words on that tour by myself, and that delay was there so that I could do so in a reasonable timeframe instead of having to cut my coverage shy or otherwise rush out the final article.
This is part of the dance we all agree to when working in this industry. We agree to abide by a certain set of embargos and deadlines so that everyone gets to release coverage at the same time and people aren’t rushing to step on one another’s feet. Leaking stuff like this doesn’t just mean giving people inaccurate information; it means violating the code of conduct we all agree to explicitly.
But maybe you don’t care about that. Maybe you think that just because everyone agrees to follow certain rules, that shouldn’t impact your ability to get to see these tooltips as soon as possible. Except you should still care about this because unlike in prior years, Square-Enix actually knew we were going to want this reference material and had an employee sit down and take exacting screenshots of every single tooltip as reference material for us.
I realize that most readers might not know this, but that is really unusual. That’s going above and beyond for the advantage of those of us on the media tour and for players because it means that we’re all working from the same reference point and have the same information to draw from.
And then someone decided to leak tooltips.
This is upsetting to me. At the point this happens, I am knee-deep in writing up the best possible analysis I can for everything that happened on the media tour. I’m poring over every note I took and trying to assemble articles that are crisp, fun to read, and informative. A lot of them, in fact. And I’m trying to do so without compromising any of my other work, which still needs to get done.
Then someone decides to leak tooltips ahead of time. Blowing up hard work that myself and a lot of other people are doing, being disrespectful to the people who hosted us for a media tour and the resources provided as a courtesy for everyone in attendance, and generally just knocking everyone’s schedule off for no solid reason.
Seriously, the people in question haven’t taken credit for the leaks. You know that they know they did something wrong because there’s been no one taking credit; whoever is responsible is keeping quiet because they want to still be invited for the next media tour. That’s the other big kicker: that someone in the FFXIV community prominent enough to get an invite did a shitty thing that they were specifically asked not to do and now wants to avoid consequences for those shitty behaviors.
And no, I don’t care how it happened. I don’t care if, say, Reginald Q. Leakersworth didn’t put the tooltips out publicly but just shared it with a few friends in private while making them promise to keep it a secret. I have friends not in the media who wanted to know what happened on the media tour, too, and I had to ask them to be patient because I couldn’t violate my embargo. Because that’s what we were asked to do.
It is, in short, a monumentally selfish transgression of rules that everyone agreed to abide by before we were let in, done for no productive purpose and accomplishing nothing beyond spitting in everyone’s eye.
Feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I’m going to be reacting to the last pre-expansion live letter.