Final Fantasy XIV subscriptions restarting by end of year, PS3 version planned for 2012

By Andrew Yoon, Oct 14, 2011 6:00am PDT

Square Enix's beleaguered MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, is finally shaping up for re-release more than one year since its original debut. Reception to the online game was so negative that Square Enix had to restructure the development team and cease collecting any subscription fees. The company's CEO, Yoichi Wada, went on record to say that the game was so toxic, it had "greatly damaged" the entire Final Fantasy brand.

Since the company's admission that Final Fantasy XIV had released in an unpolished, unfinished state, Square Enix has been drastically reworking the game. Today, Wada says he is "confident that we can provide a service worthy of the Final Fantasy name."

According to a new roadmap released by Square Enix, "Version 2.0" of the MMO will feature a complete redesign of current maps, a new user interface, and expansion of "in-game community content," all while implementing an all-new graphics engine.

Part of 2.0's new roadmap is to resume work on the perpetually-delayed PS3 version, announced at E3 in 2009. The development team had earlier admitted that the PS3's relative lack of RAM was causing problems for the team; the new graphics engine should provide a workaround. "Our new graphics engine will allow us to maintain a high level of graphic quality while allowing us to optimize the game for play on the PlayStation 3 system."

Roadmap to Final Fantasy XIV 2.0

Because the game will be available in a presentable state even before the deployment of 2.0, Wada says that it will be necessary to end the "unbilled period" later this year, some time between late November and early December, and reinstate the subscription service. "I appreciate that this decision will not be popular, but it is a necessary step in building upon the foundation our fans and development team have made together and to realize the full potential of Final Fantasy XIV," he said.

Automatic subscription renewals are being suspended so that current Final Fantasy XIV players that somehow miss today's announcement won't be surprised by subscription fees. "Only account holders who have agreed to reactivate the automated renewal system will be billed," Wada emphasized.

Although subscriptions will restart by the end of the year, the 2.0 client won't be ready until at least September 2012. At the same time, a beta version will be released on the PS3. Once 2.0 is out, Square Enix plans on restarting another free play period for the PC version, while conducting a closed beta test on PS3. Finally, the full game will be released in 2013 on both PC and PS3, with the free trial ending with the game's full release.

What Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 looks like

"I apologize that we have been so long in announcing to all of you the overall future plans for Final Fantasy XIV," Wada said. "But I assure you that all of us here on the operations and development teams have been putting all our energy into Final Fantasy XIV. We have tackled unprecedented challenges maintaining the unbilled period, the frequency and scale of patches, and an open line of communication with the player community--all while completely remaking the game at the same time."

"We are prepared to advance to the next stage of Final Fantasy XIV’s life, confident that we can provide a service worthy of the Final Fantasy name─a service that includes both content-rich updates and the renovation of existing features─and take full responsibility for all that entails."

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