With the introduction of level and story jumping potions for Final Fantasy 14 (FF14) I have been thinking a lot about the state of MMORPGs and the current gaming population. I’m not a lifetime MMO vet but I have been seeing a trend that is bleeding its way into the one genre where I thought it would not be possible. That trend is casualization of content.
Here is a bit of backstory about FF14. FF14 is the second MMORPG offering from SquareEnix that had a horrible start with 1.0 but turned around with the relaunch of 2.0 A Realm Reborn. If you are familiar with the Final Fantasy franchise then it’s known that it revolves around the story and FF14 has it in spades. One could even argue that, unlike some of the other MMOs that focus on PVP or raiding, the main draw to FF14 is the story. With that being said, the introduction of a jumping or skipping potion has been the topic of conversation for the last few days.
The director/producer of FF14, Yoshi P, released a lengthy think piece to justify bringing these potions to the NA/EU audience. Most of it revolved around trying to make it accessible to the newer players who may want to join the game for the upcoming expansion, Stormblood. There have been heated debates on the official forums and the ffxiv reddit page about the topic and the consensus is mixed.
On one hand you have people saying:
- That this will be good to new players trying to enter the game and being able to quickly play with their friends.
- This will assist players who make alts on other servers with their friends to level faster and catch up to them. These players have already seen the story so why suffer if they don’t have to?
- It will help players save on time that they may not have due to real life issues and obligations.
- It can help players who raid, craft and make their “mule” character to get around loot lock outs or have extra retainers for storage.
- These potions already exist in the Chinese/Korean regions so it’s only natural that it comes here too. Mind you, these regions have a completely different pay scale that almost make these potions a logical addition.
On the other hand you have players who say:
- the story of FF14 is the main incentive for playing this game. If you take the story out then the newer players may not feel as attached to their characters and still unsubscribe anyway when they reach end game.
- Leveling to 60, the current level cap, is not as hard as it once was before the expansion Heavensward dropped.
- By making these jump potions the developers may decide to segment the story so that newer players won’t feel left behind with each expansion. The story is a continuous tale with a lore that has followed players even from 1.0. The current player base does not want that to be sacrificed for “newer” players who may not stick around.
- That having new players skip through the content that will help them learn the story and their job will ultimately hurt the endgame content.
If you’re wondering where my thoughts lie it is with the latter group that does not want to see it implemented for the reasons given. I could elaborate but that is not the real reason I wrote this article. My true question is when did developers decide that making so many concessions for their games are the best thing to do? Was it when business became more important than the type of games they wanted to produce? Make no mistake, these jumping potions will not be cheap. They will sit at around $25 US dollars for each potion so $50 dollars in total to reach level 60 unhindered. Is the concern about the current bottom line more important than the overall health of your game and community?
Let’s take single player games. They are a contained experience that don’t always have a multiplayer aspect unless its a FPS for most games. DLC may be a natural thing for developers to expand the life of their game without making a sequel. Those things keep players invested in the world. Regardless of what the game is you still have to play it in order to get the experience. You can watch a Let’s Play or a Twitch stream but if you as the player want the experience you have to play the game. This concept is no different in MMOs so the idea of a jumping potion to skip playing the game seems counter-intuitive.
There has been many comments along the lines of “just because you had to play it the ‘hard’ way doesn’t mean new players should have to do the same”. Or “I have a busy life with wife, kids, work, divorce, threesome, whatever so I don’t have the time but still want to play”. When did this become the people we make games for? You know what happened back in the day when you didn’t have the time or money to invest in a game? You didn’t play it. The end. Full disclosure, I have a full time job, I take classes to keep my license up to date, I have a social life and I still make time to play FF14. Am I a hardcore raider? No. I don’t have the time or the schedule to keep up with it. But if I wanted to, I would make the time because that what you have to do WITH ANYTHING! I don’t want the game itself to change due to my fickle schedule because it would cause me to not want to play the game anymore.
I also understand that this may be the new wave of gamers we have now. I remember when we got Game Sharks and Game Genies with infinite everything codes. We are in the instant gratification era, I get it. But I thought the MMORPGs were safe. I remember never wanting to play an MMO because it was so time consuming and I wanted to do other things. But I am concerned we are reaching a slippery slope when the casualization of the game could go too far by being too accessible. While playing FF14 I have heard stories from the Vets about 2.0 and it sounded epic as hell. They got stuck on hard content, there were no nerfs to speak of except Echo and the Item level of gear. If you didn’t put in the time, you either got carried or didn’t clear it. When you beat those fights and got your gear you FUCKING EARNED IT and i’m worried it’s going to be lost with more concessions they make.
FF14 is still pretty young in the grand scheme of things. It is going into its second expansion and I think to implement it here is premature. I understand it is a slog but the slog is worth it when you get to the end and I don’t want that aspect of MMORPGs to be lost. Let me know what you think. Do you think jumping or leveling potions are a good idea for FF14? If you play another MMO how is it done and how do you think it has impacted the game? Dou you guys think I’m overreacting? All opinions are valid in this conversation.
Until Next Time,
All images for Final Fantasy 14 are owned by Square Enix
Gif retrieved from Giphy
12/27/16: Edited for some grammar and format issues.