Despite the industry-wide shift towards free-to-play model for the MMO genre, Square Enix still believes that a subscription model is the right way to sell the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
Naoki Yoshida, the director working on the MMO, tells Penny Arcade that, “Games like The Old Republic and The Secret World, I don’t say those games would’ve been more successful if they had been free-to-play, for example. The subscription model was unrelated to the success of the game.”
It’s impossible to know how the two titles might have performed if they had lacked a subscription at launch, but the fact that both of them have moved towards free-to-play, even if a number of restrictions have remained attached, contradicts Yoshida’s main argument.
He adds, “With the free-to-play model, you’ll get huge income one month, but the next month it depletes. Most MMOs have investors in the background, and the company uses the profit and splits the profit with the investors.”
Yoshida also believes that only Blizzard, the company behind World of Warcraft, and Square Enix are able to run an MMO with an attached subscription, because they don’t have to worry about investors.
The first incarnation of Final Fantasy XIV has also launched with a subscription model, but also with a load of crippling bugs that have made the MMO impossible to enjoy.
Square Enix allowed players to engage with the game for free for a while and then announced that it would fix all reported problems with the A Realm Reborn reboot.
Since then, the company has communicated with the player community to make sure that the game addresses their concerns, but it’s unclear whether fans of Final Fantasy are ready to take another chance on an MMO.
Square Enix has also recently suggested that a new single-player Final Fantasy title is in development for the PlayStation 4.