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Why Final Fantasy XIV is rising as WoW falls

Over the recent weeks an exodus has happened from World of Warcraft to Final Fantasy XIV. But not just players, well-known streamers like Asmongold have also decided to give Square Enix' MMO a try. Why?

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Patch 9.1 Chains of Domination is not even a month old in World of Warcraft, with the World First Race for Mythic just kicking off. But the community’s reception has been lukewarm at best. Instead many players and prominent streamers are enjoying an entirely different MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV.

Final Fantasy XIV surges ahead

What has been a slow migration over the long delay for Patch 9.1 has by now turned into a massive avalanche of new players taking their first steps in Eorzea for the first time. Square Enix even had to stop selling digital codes for the game for a while as they ramped up server capacities to actually allow the new players to create their characters and play the game.

Usually a MMO sees a surge in players as major patches or new expansions drops, but in FFXIV’s case the game is actually in the post-expansion lull as there are no major patches planned until the release of the next addon Endwalker in November.

This naturally leads us to the question: Just what is happening and why now?

The slow fall of World of Warcraft

Ever since World of Warcraft became the smashing hit that put MMOs in the spotlight developers all over the world have tried to dethrone the genre-defining game. Many titles have been touted the “WoW Killer” but most have just faded away, never coming close to competing with what is still one of the most popular games in the world. But in recent years many players have started to criticize Blizzard’s largest game, especially as Battle for Azeroth disappointed many fans.

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The current expansion, Shadowlands, had high hopes pinned on it immediately, but after a successful launch, the old complaints came back with a vengeance: Grindy gameplay, fast and loose storywriting, long downtimes between patches and more. The first major patch was only launched 8 months into the game and the reception among the players has been poor. The cinematic that was supposed to mark the highpoint of Patch 9.1 is instead just gathering dislikes on YouTube as we go:

Reactions on YouTube to the Patch 9.1 Cinematic
Not exactly what you would call a success…..

With Blizzard seemingly ignoring criticism and failing the expectations of its playerbase during the long wait for the patch and even now in the aftermath many outspoken personalities from the community have jumped ship and given FFXIV a try. BellularGaming, JesseCox and more all made long videos detailing why they were moving to FFXIV and what WoW is currently lacking. With disappointment over the latest patch widespread, many other players were simply looking for alternatives.

A perfect storm

In comes Final Fantasy XIV. Capitalizing on the struggles of WoW, Square Enix has launched a relentless campaign to get players into their game. Especially the free trial version which allows leveling up to 60 (level 80 is the current level cap) and includes the first expansion Heavensward has been key in attracting new players.

Its success has kicked off its own meme, spreading throughout the internet and preaching the gospel of the “critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV” to the masses.

With WoW’s biggest streamer Asmongold starting his journey in Eorzea early July, despite being opposed to FFXIV before, a dam has broken and more and more players flock to FFXIV. On Steam alone, the game has already hit a new all-time peak at 58,043 concurrent players and is trending continuously upwards. Square Enix are also seizing the unexpected momentum and announced a 14-day free login campaign for returning players. A couple of months back in April, Square Enix had announced that more than 22 million players have registered for the game, a number that is only going to increase once Endwalker releases in November.

Is WoW dead?

It is far too soon to pronounce WoW dead now as Blizzard is certainly already trying to turn things around. Just recently a community survey of theirs included questions regarding Final Fantasy XIV, so they are aware of the current predicament. How and when they will tackle it, remains to be seen however as there is no timeline yet for Patch 9.2 for Shadowlands.

For now Final Fantasy XIV is enjoying its day in the limelight and it certainly helps that it can stand on its own two feet and does not need WoW refugees to survive. This migration of players could also just be a flash in the pan as WoW still boasts of a large and dedictaed playerbase. Even the streamers moving to FFXIV have not turned their back on Blizzard entirely.

However if the current trend should last World of Warcraft is in dire straits and needs to do a lot more to re-earn the goodwill of their players.

Image Credits: Blizzard/Square Enix