Has there ever been a comeback story as dramatic as Final Fantasy XIV's? Launched to disastrous results, the game was rebuilt and relaunched as "A Realm Reborn," essentially a brand new game with the Final Fantasy XIV moniker. So, why didn't Square Enix simply cut their losses and shed the name? Game director Naoki Yoshida said it was important to preserve faith in the Final Fantasy brand.
"Even if we were to, say, shut down this game within a year and put out the next Final Fantasy game, that would lose the trust, and it would completely disappoint all of our fans," he explained. "I'm sure there would be a lot of players who would say, 'I'm never going to play Final Fantasy again,' or 'I'm never going to buy a Square Enix game ever again.' I, too, am a fan of the Final Fantasy series. I would have said the same thing, too."
Final Fantasy XIV was an especially big investment for many fans. Yoshida explained that because the MMORPG required a high-spec PC, "there were people who went out and purchased a $2,000 high-end PC." He told Gamasutra, "with it failing, it was such a big shock and negative impact."
Yoshida admits that "we shouldn't have failed in the first place," but the goal of the relaunch was to regain the trust of fans "regardless of business or commercial success." Adding, "it was very important to go back to Final Fantasy XIV and make sure that we fixed the mistakes, and go back and gain the trust that we had lost in the initial failure," instead of walking away from the original game.
The plan has worked so far, and not only has the relaunch been well-received, it's actually been profitable for Square Enix. Who knew that focusing on fun could restore the faith of fans that could have been irrevocably burned.