Square Enix have given Final Fantasy XIV North American and European servers the “Standard” status to counteract them being congested; along with implementing a 30 minute inactivity log-out.
The game classifies how many players are in a server, or “World,” and attempts to incentivize populating those that have less players. Players cannot create a new character on a World deemed “Congested,” while a “Preferred” World (one with few players) offers double EXP for characters under level 70, and other bonuses.
These Preferred Worlds and their “Road to 70” bonus can tempt players who wish to level a new or low-level Job quickly. While transferring to a new World (not just visiting) usually costs real money, the fee is waived when players move from a Congested World to a Preferred one, or when a player moves to a brand new server. Bonuses are offered for transferring, along with creating new characters in new Worlds.
When discussing the latest changes to servers deemed Congested and Preferred, Square Enix noted that North American and European worlds are currently “extremely congested during peak hours.” However, they will not be assigning the Congested status to those Worlds.
This would make it impossible to create a new character in those Worlds, and “most of the Worlds” on those data centers. “As a result, large numbers of characters would be concentrating in fewer Worlds.” To resolve the issue, Square Enix is seemingly redefining what constitutes as congested, as now all Worlds in North America and European data centers are being changed to Standard Worlds.
At this time of writing, the North American servers have three Worlds where a new character cannot be made (despite being a standard world), while European servers have seven. In the case of the latter, this is over half the Worlds available.
The patch notes for update 5.58 also note other changes made to aid with congestion. Players who are inactive for over 30 minutes will now be logged out automatically. Among the various bugs resolved includes an issue where players were unable to log in after using the Home World Transfer Service.
UPDATE: Producer and director Naoki Yoshida (also known as Yoshi-P) has also discussed the recent increase in players; noting that North America and Europe has seen “an extreme influx of new players.” This is in addition to a player growths in Japan, China, and Korea, with Yoshida noting “record user numbers in all regions, with a vast amount of new players beginning their adventures.”
Yoshida also states that the simultaneous login cap has been raised, with the matching servers of North American data centers upgraded to higher-performance models. As of July 16, this was the maximum number of simultaneous logins in the North American data center by 18,000 (approximately 750 per World).
In spite of this, the weekend of July 17th and 18th saw “several North American World servers experienced periods of six to seven hours at maximum login capacity.” This led to players being unable to make characters, and login wait times of 10 to 20 minutes. European Worlds saw wait times up to 40 minutes.
Along with Yoshida and the developer’s apologies, the aforementioned changes to server status and the 30 minute inactivity logout were implemented. Along with the soon to be launched Oceania data center, plans to approve the budget and funding to “expand even further” are in the works.
Yoshida notes there issues in their way from preventing more servers is the shortage of semiconductors and travel restrictions preventing staff from visiting data centers; both brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown orders.
Concluding, Yoshida states the responsibility for being unable to predict the influx of new players. “The days before an expansion’s launch are supposed to be ones of excitement, but instead they’ve brought many players grief, and for that I, personally, am extremely sorry.”
“For years, we have watched devoted players from around the world stream their time with FINAL FANTASY XIV, and now, we sit in awe while new fans join their ranks. As we enter our final push in the development of Endwalker, it is this constant flow of positive energy that motivates all of us on the development and operations team to carry on. Nothing can compare to the feeling we get watching you enjoy playing the game we’ve created.
We are aware of the burden we have placed on our player base, and are working diligently to lighten it in the coming weeks and months. We will continue to develop measures to combat server congestion, and will keep you up to date with any and all developments in this area.”
Original article continues below with additional comments on European servers
Final Fantasy XIV has recently seen a surge in interest; being all attributed to one man. The game recently broke its Steam concurrent players record with over 47,000; after World of Warcraft streamer Asmongold tried the game.
His first two streams and subsequent VODs reached 2.7 million and 2.1 million views. The game briefly had to contend with the Western servers being full, and had to implement a waiting list for the Complete Edition.
MMO Population- utilizing API tools, Reddit, and other resources to calculate player and active player numbers- proposed that Final Fantasy XIV has an estimated 2.49 million active players. This would be 30,000 more than their estimation for World of Warcraft (assuming both figures are accurate).
Officially, Final Fantasy XIV reached over 22 million registered players worldwide in April 2021. This would also include players who registered for the game’s free trial. Nonetheless, this number must surely have increased since Asmongold took his first steps into Eorzea.
Square Enix recently launched the benchmark for the Endwalker expansion. This allows players to not only test how well the game will run on their PC, but also use the game’s character creator. The latter will provide players with a small taste of the upcoming Male Viera race.
The Make it Rain Campaign is also currently underway, granting more MGP from the Gold Saucer minigames. This is also sure to see an influx of players. This writer also experienced lag on a European World while in the Gold Saucer, and large numbers of players crowding around NPCs offering quests and services. This image here indicates only half the players that surrounded this limited time quest NPC at its peak.
Final Fantasy XIV is available to Windows PC, (via the SE Store, and Steam), PlayStation 4, and coming soon to PlayStation 5, and Xbox One. A free trial is available, including the base game and the first expansion with some limitations. In case you missed it, you can find our Shadowbringers expansion review here (we can’t recommend it enough!)
The next expansion; Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, launches November 23rd.
Image: Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker official website