Delving into the rise of Final Fantasy XIV Online.
No matter what games you come from, or what content creators you watch, there's a pretty good chance you've heard the title Final Fantasy 14 recently. The widely successful Final Fantasy series MMORPG is experiencing an explosion in popularity that practically came out of nowhere. Or did it?
The game has been around for around eight years in its Realm Reborn state and has always had a good following, so it's not like the game itself just released. But this may arguably be one of the highest points in its lifespan, both in terms of publicity and as a game. With the anticipated Endwalker expansion on the horizon, a ton of content creators joining the fray in Eorzea and many new players generally trying out the game, it's truly an exciting time for FFXIV. With all that said, there's still a pressing question on the minds of players and onlookers alike. Why is FFXIV so popular right now?
FFXIV's free trial
One of the primary reasons for FFXIV's popularity is the free trial. Even if an MMO has a free trial, it's nowhere near as expansive as FFXIV's. Currently, prospective players can play through the base game (A Realm Reborn), as well as the first expansion Heavensward. In addition, they can level up to level 60 and experience all the story has to offer, and more. While there are of course restrictions, the amount of content someone can play for free is staggering.
Because of this, it's accessible to more people than ever before. Instead of feeling like it'll be a commitment since they spent $60 on it and a subscription, it feels like an opportunity, a genuine adventure that you can try out casually and have the freedom to drop. It's no secret that playing an MMO is a significant time investment, and not knowing if you'll like it or not before you buy can cause some to shy away. Nobody wants to buy a game they'll drop after a few hours. That's why the free trial is so important. It gets new players' feet in the door, then hooks them, simple as that. What makes FFXIV's new trial so noteworthy is the amount of content and story new players can take part in.
Publicity from content creators
Without a doubt, another major reason for so many people joining FFXIV is the influence of streamers and content creators. Perhaps the most prominent of which is Asmongold, who has been an iconic streamer in the World of Warcraft community for a long time. It was quite a big deal when he decided to try out FFXIV, as evidenced by the over 200k viewers he had on Twitch the first day he streamed the game.
He approached the new game with an open mind and apprehensions alike. Thankfully he did so, as he's enjoyed the game thus far and has continued to play it. Not only has he gone through the main story, but he's done various raids and grinded out older content many people don't do much anymore. Seeing a long-time (and continued) World of Warcraft player appreciate FFXIV has no doubt been the turning point for many new players to take the plunge.
Obviously, Asmongold isn't the only Twitch streamer/content creator to try out or fully take the jump to FFXIV. Many others, such as Rich Campbell, Charlie “MoistCr1tikal” White, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar, have played the game for their audiences and a good amount of them have loved it and kept with it. The impact streamers can have on games' popularity is undisputed. No doubt new players are flocking to FFXIV is in part due to their efforts and its great to see.
Discontent with Blizzard and WoW
Now we come to the less enjoyable aspect of why FFXIV is so popular right now. The growing discontent with Activision Blizzard and World of Warcraft. For what seems like ever, WoW has been the go-to MMORPG, especially in the West. It's reached heights that were thought unimaginable and brought tons of innovations to the genre throughout its many years. Though there were always talks of “WoW killers,” no MMO has even been close to surpassing WoW.
But today's World of Warcraft isn't the same as it was in its prime. Be it the toxic elements of the community, the lack of content you like, the insane grinds, the shifting development focuses, Activision Blizzard as a company, or any other reason, a large part of the WoW community is simply frustrated. While many continue to play because they still do really enjoy it, there are some who decide to leave the game altogether or take some time away.
And where do they go? To all sorts of games, to be fair, but to other MMOs in general. While those who want PvP may go to games like Black Desert Online, a great number of them take their chances with FFXIV, especially now with the amount of attention it's getting. And even more so as people draw more distinctions between the faces of Activision Blizzard and those from Square Enix, like Naoki Yoshida (aka Yoshi-P), and the differences in design philosophies.
All that said, WoW is still a giant and the commanding presence in the MMO scene. But as Activision Blizzard continues to fail the player base, the more FFXIV starts to look like an attractive option to them.
Upcoming Endwalker expansion
The story of Final Fantasy FFXIV keeps getting better and better as time goes on. The three expansions, Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers, have immersed players through an incredible journey worthy of the Final Fantasy franchise. The end of the game's first grand story arc will conclude with the Endwalkers expansion, which is set to release on November 23, 2021.
After the Shadowbringers expansion won the “Excellence in Multiplayer” award in 2020, expectations are high for Endwalkers. This is drawing old players back to the game, but also incentivizing new players to pick up the game. That's because there's a lot of story content to go through before catching up to current content. Those who don't want to be left in the dust are wisely playing the game now so they don't have to wait or watch when the Endwalkers release date rolls around. Because of the expansion and the awesome expectations there are for it, now is truly the best time to jump into FFXIV to make sure you're all caught up before we go to the moon.
A solid game with plenty to keep players around
Finally, we come to the biggest and simplest reason many people are playing FFXIV. It's a damn good game. For a lot of people, dedicating time to an MMO can be intimidating at first, but seeing their favorite content creators enjoy the game and being able to try the free trial gives people enough reasons to begin their adventures in Eorzea.
Once there, FFXIV has no lack of things to hook people in. The story is fantastic, filled with great characters, epic fights and exciting plots. The dungeons and raids are fun, as is the ability to level every class on a single character. There's gathering, crafting, housing and other roleplay elements aplenty for those who want that type of content. While the PvP is considered to be weaker in FFXIV than in other MMOs, there is still a dedicated PvP community that will welcome newcomers. On top of that, the FFXIV community is famously friendly and helpful to all new players. All of this and more makes it an overall fantastic new player experience.
In the end, this is really why so many people are playing FFXIV. Sure, the other reasons are important in getting people to initially start the game. But the game itself is why people continue to play for hours on end. Because in the end, that's what really matters.