From an unfinished mess that no one wanted to play to a highly-polished gem that nobody can access in just under three years. Way to relaunch, Square Enix. Update: Added information on this week's coming server expansion and free game time credit.
I've been incredibly patient. During the early start last weekend, when Americans and Europeans were dealing with the inability to connect to any of the servers in their region, I gave Square Enix the benefit of the doubt. Having rolled on a Japanese server myself (quite by accident), I had no trouble at all logging on during peak Western hours. I felt for the folks having issues, but I was hopeful they'd all be ironed out in time for full launch on Tuesday.
They were not. They only got worse.
There was no logging into a North American or European server after 6 PM Eastern Time Tuesday through Thursday. I mean, surely someone was logging in — the servers were up, and folks were playing — but I and many others had no luck whatsoever. Our only recourse was to hop on Japanese servers, where plenty of English-speaking fans were taking refuge.
Then the weekend hit, and things got impossible. North America, Europe and Japan were constantly full, and that's when they were showing up in the world selection portion of the client.
Sometimes the Western servers would be unavailable. Sometimes the Eastern ones would disappear. Sometimes I would get a "Server is Full" error before even getting to character selection — was the login server full?
It certainly doesn't help that there isn't any sort of AFK kick timer in the game, so many players that do get into the game simply leave it on without logging out, afraid they won't be able to get back in.
Creating new characters on a majority of servers has been disabled, part of Square Enix's efforts to curb congestion. Earlier in the week they halted digital sales of the game to stem the tide of disappointed new players.
Square Enix's customer service for the game is congested as well, leading to problems unrelated to server congestion going unanswered. I've received many emails over the past few days from players who accidentally registered the game to a fresh Square Enix sub-account instead of their main Final Fantasy XIV account, which keeps them from bringing their legacy characters over and denies them access to veteran's rewards. It's incredibly easy to make this mistake, but getting it fixed is near impossible at the moment.
Fans are upset, and rightly so. The forums are raging. My email is filled with angry folks lashing out, sometimes irrationally — I'm pretty sure adding servers to Japan before America and Europe was a matter of convenience and not racism, as has been suggested (Update: Note that Square hasn't added servers to either side of the pond yet, and the initial announcement that Japan would get more servers was expanded to include North America and Europe as well.) I get where it's coming from, though. Fans want answers, and since Square Enix isn't offering much in that way, folks are making up their own.
What makes the whole situation worse, aside from this being a long weekend for the U.S., is that the game people are desperately trying to play is really quite good. The convoluted mess that was Final Fantasy XIV has been streamlined into a more traditional fantasy MMO with all the Square Enix trimmings — iconic character classes, gorgeous music and scenery, etc. This is a game MMORPG fans should play. They just can't.
I've reached out to Square Enix several times over the weekend. I was told a statement was forthcoming yesterday. As of this writing, that statement has not been made. (Note — I am referring here to a statement promised me via Square Enix PR, not the statement on the FFXIV website.)
So now I am angry. I wasted a large portion of my long weekend trying to play this game, following up on player complaints, assaulted by a constant barrage of server disconnect and server full messages. I'm getting snappy. I want to say things like, "You'd think the company that sent out a press release back in July boasting its game had over a million beta registrations would have prepared for a similar number of actual players, instead of letting this bullshit happen."
I guess I just did.
To all the players that I've emailed with over the past week, sorry this took so long. Hope to see you in Eorzea, eventually.
Update: As many have pointed out in the comments, on Twitter, shouting out loud at their monitors and such, producer Naoki Yoshida addressed the login issues, expanding players' free play time by seven days and laying out a plan to add more servers later this week.