*Disclaimer I want to start this by disclosing my bias. I have played World of Warcraft for 15 years, and feel attached to the game. I am often quick to defend WoW, even when it can’t be defended. I am not a fan of Final Fantasy 14 but acknowledge the wonderful work they have done.
Final Fantasy 14 sold out of digital copies this week. The game is experiencing a boom, unseen before. It’s a result of successful social media campaigns, constant ingame improvements, and a disappointing World of Warcraft release schedule.
FF14 sold out of digital copies of the game through the Steam store on Monday. They also had to stop new character creations momentarily as new players were surging the servers. Last week on Steam, FF14 had more than 58k concurrent players. It has consistently stayed near 50k players since then.
In recent years, developer Square Enix has increased their social media push. Instagram feeds have Final Fantasy clips and screenshots scattered about. They have invested in influencers and gaming sources to keep FF14 in the pop-gaming discussion. Even a source for this article, Kotaku, is advertising Final Fantasy with banners while explaining its superiority to World of Warcraft. Square Enix has put their money out there, and it’s working.
Final Fantasy’s biggest competition, World of Warcraft, has stumbled. WoW was once the untouchable king on the mountain, but now see’s exhausted fans leaving after a lack of content. The latest major WoW patch was released in June after a 9-month dry spell. The extended-release schedule is chalked up to the pandemic. But for many, it was simply too late. Others were upset with the newest chapter in the WoW story. While the campaign is still releasing over the next month, players wanted a conclusion to Sylvanas’ story after the raid. Instead, they were given just a continuation of the grand plan. Another factor is WoW’s universe has gotten too big. We no longer hunt down a problematic dragon but instead balance the machines of life and death. Players are no longer connected to Azeroth as they once were.
On the other hand, Final Fantasy has worked to create a story-driven world. Players often boast the main story as the only reason they play. The game was released in 2010, with a rehaul in 2013. It feels and plays like a much newer game than its competition. Players are guided through small stories and eventually open up more of the world and larger villains. It’s a standard game progression, but Final Fantasy 14 does it very well.
Final Fantasy is booming, and it deserves to. It has invested in both the game and awareness. With WoW stumbling lately, it’s time to take the top of the mountain. Will Final Fantasy will retain its newfound population? Possibly. The genre, in general, has been declining, so there will be a portion that leaves. But if FF14 can keep those dedicated MMO players, they will last for another decade. Final Fantasy may be the new top MMORPG.