World Of Warcraft (YouTube)

This latest misstep seems to be a lot of players’ final straw, according to Polygon reporter and WoW expert Cass Marshall.

“Fans feel frustrated because they’re on a slow ride through a mystery town with little payoff or explanation,” they said. “The giant cosmic scope and Thanos-level villainy doesn’t help either. There’s stuff to like in Shadowlands, but it’s drowned out under the main plot.”

Though Blizzard boasted that Shadowlands is the fastest selling PC game of all time, there was a 5 million player dip in Blizzard’s monthly active users between Q1 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021. It’s not possible to determine if those were all WoW players or spread out between Blizzard’s other games like Hearthstone and Overwatch, but there does seem to be a general antipathy toward World of Warcraft that Final Fantasy is brilliantly equipped to capitalize on.


The final culprit in the Great Final Fantasy XIV Awakening is the relentless campaign to get new folks to play the game. If you’ve spent any time on social media there is a good chance you’ve come across some meme-ified version of this script:

“Did you know that this critically acclaimed MMORPG has a free trial to level 60 with unlimited playtime and includes the award-winning first expansion Heavensward?”


It is everywhere. In fact, when I asked Square Enix for comment, it didn’t provide player stats or offer reasons why they’re seeing a surge in server populations, a spokesperson merely quoted the meme back to me with a wry smiley emoji. (I also asked WoW PR if it had any comment on player dissatisfaction and they too said nothing, but offered me a code for free game time.)

Mayhaps then, the meme is doing its job.


It helps that Final Fantasy XIV is generally a damn fine MMO with a community that has a reputation for being the best MMOs have to offer. A cursory scroll through the FF14 Reddit has many threads welcoming new players, offering tips, and ex-WoW lifers gushing about the night and day difference. I myself am a reformed WoW player who’s had her entire world rocked by FF14’s engaging and effortless storytelling that doesn’t (yet) seem to rely too much on villian cosmic power creep.

For now, it seems it’s Final Fantasy’s Eorzea and we’re all just living in it. In April, Square Enix announced FF14 amassed 22 million registered players. That bonkers number is only going to grow when FF14’s newest expansion Endwalker releases on November 23.