Final Fantasy XIV did not have a positive beta when it first released. The situation was such that even internally, many staff thought releasing the game wasn’t ready to go to retail. “When I heard that it was going to go on sale as planned, I thought, that will probably be a big mistake,” said Naoki Yoshida, current game director for Final Fantasy XIV.
Yoshida notes that the preceding online game that Square Enix did, Final Fantasy XI, copied what worked from EverQuest and transplanted it into their game. “I think it would’ve been good to do the same thing [for the original FFXIV],” said Yoshida.
Yoshida believes that FFXI succeeded by merging the series’ famous cutscenes, dramatic scenarios, and story-driven content with an EverQuest-like framework. With FFXIV, they didn’t try and match the standard for MMOs, which had been raised several years since FFXI‘s release.
“I think it would’ve been good if they tried seeing what happened if they turned World of Warcraft into Final Fantasy,” said Yoshida. “So, because they tried only to make something that was ‘different from FFXI,’ they ended up with not much of anything. They should have said, ‘Hey you, go play WoW for a year [for inspiration].'”
Yoshida believes that the company is doing something right with FFXIV: A Realm Reborn and that the best of Square Enix are working on it. “We won’t make a mistake like FFXIV again — if we did, it would be like at the level of destroying the company,” said Yoshida.