Earlier this week I read this interview with Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida, the interview itself has a lot of potentially interesting stuff for fans of Square-Enix’s MMO regarding cross-overs and is overall, a really good interview. However, my focus today is the way in which the article opens.
“Despite a disastrous launch back in 2010, Final Fantasy 14 has slowly but surely carved itself a path to excellence, with its Shadowbringers expansion going down as one of the most prolific and prestigious Final Fantasy entries in recent memory.”
It seems every article centred around Final Fantasy XIV opens up with discussing its failed 2010 version, or 1.0. For those not in the know, and I’m aware I’m doing the same thing as the linked-to article, Square-Enix originally launched Final Fantasy XIV Online in 2010, It was pretty much a broken mess and became a laughing stock, Yoshida took over control of the title, got the team to work on A Realm Reborn whilst Square saw out the final months of 1.0 and then consigned that release to A Realm Reborns lore (Meteor was summoned and caused the Great Calamity that is referenced throughout ARR), players had to start again and yes, the game has gone from strength to strength since then (though my personal favourite expansion was Heavensward). There’s an excellent documentary about it on YouTube (split over two parts)
Now, I might be biased because I love this game so, so much, but I’m getting a little frustrated that seven years after the release of A Realm Reborn, in which time the community has seen 3 further expansions (Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers), had cross-over events with Final Fantasy XIII, Nier: Automata, Monster Hunter and Yo-Kai Watch and has taken the fight to that other big MMO. It’s a bit lazy to bring it up as an intro to an article every. single. time. and all it really does is create the belief that it’s still a broken game, which turns people off from playing, it’s so frustrating.
It’s not the only game to suffer this fate, the most recent one that comes to mind that I believe is still broken (because 1. I’ve not played it and 2. I’ve not read otherwise) is Fallout 76, but the most notable is No Man’s Sky. Now admittedly Sean Murray was partially responsible for this, though I place the blame more on the press than I do him, prior to the games release there seemed to be a new article every day promising you could do this and you could do that, the big one being that despite how big the game was, you could potentially meet other people, but then that didn’t happen and all hell broke loose, it was a “broken” game. FWIW I loved it at release and love what it’s been turned into since, but again, you can’t read an article talking about any new content (which has all been free I might add) without getting the games rocky launch brought up in the opening passages. Driveclub was another that completely turned things around from a gameplay perspective but was left to die by the community due to a rocky launch.
Some places do try to address this, Wireframe magazine has a (small) “Still Playing” section and EDGE, I believe, as “Time Extended” where they go back to a game they reviewed and see if and how things have changed which hopefully breathes new life into those communities. I do understand the difficulty though, for seven generations of consoles a game gets released and that’s it, that’s the game, but more so this generation than ever before we’ve seen games development continue past their initial release, and not just with content expansions, but constant tweaks that change and better the fundamentals of the game.
But the media that surrounds the games we play needs to evolve too, we can’t keep dragging the past into coverage of a game if there have been a number of builds since its launch that have addressed the issues, that’s just doing the continued development to make these games better a complete disservice.