On April 30th 2014, Square Enix announced, rather quietly, that both the German and French languages will no longer be supported in Final Fantasy XI. These languages will no longer be shown in the game, despite the two languages being supported since 2004 (for ten years!), and despite the fact that over twelve years of content for the game has been translated in German and French. This means that for French and German players who have been playing since 2004, and have been paying a monthly fee of 11,95 euros (over $16), they will no longer be able to play their favourite MMORPGs in their native language.
Personally, I find this absolutely disgraceful, if not just downright offensive, to Square Enix’s long-term European fans who have supported the game with their subscription fees and expansion pack purchases. I also find this announcement incredibly sad, because it reduces an awful lot of hope for more expansions for the game, and also for a free-to-play conversation of Final Fantasy XI.
Firstly, there definitely won’t be any more expansions for Final Fantasy XI, and if there is, they won’t be released (at retail) in Europe. I’ve been told that one of the requirements for the game being released in Europe was that it supported two other languages, apart from English, with French and German being the two languages which Square Enix chose to support. If they are discontinuing support for those two languages then they won’t be able to release future expansion packs at retail for the game.
Whilst I suspected for a while that there would be no more expansion packs coming for the game, reading this news pretty much confirms such a thing. I mean afterall, the game is over twelve years old. I’m surprised that Square Enix have kept supporting the game for this long, given the companies somewhat disappointing track record of supporting online games (especially in Japan).
Whilst we’re talking about supporting an old game, I might as well bring up the subject of it going free-to-play. I have longed hoped that Final Fantasy XI would go free-to-play, at the very least that it would go free-to-play instead of being discontinued completely. It would appear that instead of changing the game to free-to-play, and potentially continuing the French and German support, Square Enix would rather just ditch the language support and stay subscription based. But what happens when the game’s subscriber numbers dwindle further? This ditching of two languages they have long supported proves to me that when push comes to shove, Square Enix will just pull the plug, instead of trying to salavage it.
Afterall if Final Fantasy XI was going to go free-to-play (soon, or within the next two years), why would the company ditch two languages? Surely having both French and German languages would give Final Fantasy XI a larger free-to-play appeal, opening it up to larger audiences.
At this point you’re probably wondering, “Final Fantasy XI is fine as a subscription-based game, why would you even want it to go free-to-play?” According to FFXIAH.com, a long standing Final Fantasy XI fan site which gets information from Final Fantasy XI’s servers and allows players to view items on the auction house, there are currently 134,732 active characters across the game’s many servers. Bearing in mind that Final Fantasy XI cost’s $15 a month for one character with a player being required to pay addition fees if they want more characters, one can only assume that there must be at least 133,000 customers paying full price for their active characters. This means that the game will bring in roughly $2 million. Which is a very good amount of money considering the game is TWELVE years old!
In the next year or so, those numbers will slowly fall as more players make the jump to Final Fantasy XIV. Having said that, I fully expect the game to at least stay between 80,000 – 100,000 players. At what point will Square Enix call it quits? At what number will Square stop supporting the game? I’d rather Square move the game to free-to-play, then for them to completely shut down Final Fantasy XI.
I’m a huge supporter of video game achievements, and keeping the history of the video gaming medium intact so that countless generations can experience it for themselves. What will video game journalists and historians do when producing a Final Fantasy retrospective if they can’t get footage from the game because it’s shut down. Final Fantasy XI moving to free-to-play would stop the game from closing, at least for another couple of years. I’m also certain that Final Fantasy XI going free-to-play would be the best thing for it.
There are plenty of Final Fantasy XI fans who, I’m sure, would jump into the game again should it go free-to-play. I’m sure plenty of newcomers, fans of the Final Fantasy series who had long been scared away by the subscription fee, would try the game out two.
Of course this move by Square Enix, to remove the German and French language from the game definitely reinforces that “afraid of paying a subscription for a game which will eventually die out”, attitude. With this latest move from Square Enix, I’m sure there are many German and French players who will worry that the same will happen to Final Fantasy XIV, albeit in ten years or less. This move definitely doesn’t send a good message to Europeans and Final Fantasy XIV. “Hey, come and play Final Fantasy XIV, we’ll cut language support for it after a couple of years, just like we did with our last MMORPG! Thanks for the money though”, is what Square Enix is saying.
With regard to the monthly fee, why isn’t $2 million a month enough money to translate what (little) additional game content is being added to the game? There are no more expansion packs coming, and what additional content is being added surely costs a few gil to translate.
This is the first of many cuts that Square Enix will make to Final Fantasy XI. Afterall, you did give them a monthly fee for ten years, what better way for them to repay their fans then to cut language support. You might as well spit in the faces of your European fans Square Enix. Oh wait, you just did.Related: Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix, Update