The silence is deafening.
More than two weeks have passed since the most recent update of Final Fantasy XI -- an update which many have criticized as the most lackluster in the game’s seven-year run.
All updates have their shares of glitches, bugs and hiccups. That’s why the community immediately assumed a mistake had been made when the potency and duration of several kinds of magic -- most notably enfeebling spells -- took a significant nosedive.
Certainly, the playerbase said, this is something SE would fix.
Several emergency maintenances later, the issue remains. What was once perceived as a bug has grown to the equivalent of a giant marid sitting in Aht Urhgan Whitegate. Scores of longtime, dedicated players have been left to wonder whether they’ve just been slapped with the most sweeping ninja nerf this game has ever seen.
And SE refuses to acknowledge them.
Allakhazam.com has sought answers from Square Enix. Is this a nerf? Is this a glitch? Is this an issue that’s being worked out, or is it an adjustment that’s long been coming? Why was there no mention of these changes in the recent update notes?
So many questions, yet only one response from SE.
The strange thing is, I’ve met several members of the FFXI development team. In person, they seem to care about what we think. I believe they are passionate about the game. To us, they may seem out of touch, but they’re certainly not unfamiliar with the world they’ve created.
It was only last July when I accompanied Pikko to the Premier Site Summit at Square Enix’s North American headquarters in El Segundo, CA. The whole purpose of that summit was to build bridges between SE and the premier sites. Two-way communication is great for everyone. They get great publicity. We get better access and some inside scoops. That fuels our desire to keep playing which, again, is good for SE.
Communication wins. They know this.
At the site summit, the Square Enix representatives reiterated again and again the importance of communication; that the relationship between them and us is about more than monthly subscription fees.
Yet now, when many of SE’s most valued customers are desperately seeking communication, they are receiving none. The players don’t understand why developers felt the need to change such a fundamental aspect of the game, especially something that was a complete non-issue to the playerbase. Flame wars about enfeebling magic never covered the premier site message boards, as was the case when bards were spamming songs for easy experience points in campaign. This enfeebling magic adjustment feels completely out of the blue, no less random than the winning numbers of last year’s mog lottery.
Nerf or not, this adjustment to enfeebling magic impacts many who play, especially those who play as black mage or red mage. If you follow the Vana’diel census -- or if you do much Dynamis-Xarcabard -- then you know that red mage is one of the most popular jobs in the game. Many players have spent years perfecting their red mages as enfeebling specialists. They burned countless real-life hours to merit their skills and wait in line for specific pieces of endgame gear.
For unknown reasons, the results of their efforts have been diminished. Why?
Like all aging MMOs, this game has seen its share of adjustments. There was the infamous ranger nerf, followed by the infamous beastmaster nerf (cleverly disguised as an MPK patch). Dragoons, ninjas and most jobs that don’t rhyme with “samurai” have tasted the bitter bash of the nerf bat.
There’s just one difference -- none of those were ninja nerfs.
Is the enfeebling adjustment a ninja nerf or an honest mistake? Or is it a planned adjustment that, by human error, simply didn’t make it into the update notes?
Therein lies the problem with SE’s ongoing silence. A lot can be said by saying nothing. Problem is, you leave it to others to interpret what you’re trying to say.
What is SE saying?
“It’s a nerf, but our community doesn’t matter enough to tell them.”
“It’s a bug, but our community doesn’t matter enough to tell them.”
“It should have been in the update notes, but we don’t care enough about our community to admit we made a mistake.”
Regardless of which it is, it's clear they don't care about us as much as they should.
I’m as close to a lifelong fan of Square Enix (formerly Square) as anyone can be. I played the original Final Fantasy when I was a boy. The series has held my interest into adulthood. I’ve embraced and enjoyed the opportunity to work with Allakhazam, which has given me tremendous insight into the creators of my all-time favorite series.
Yet I am among the scores of players who are left scratching their heads over SE’s path of inaction. This isn’t the first time concerns have been raised about SE’s response times to critical issues. Anyone who views our general forum regularly will recall the horror stories as people fought to reclaim accounts hijacked by RMT. In response, Square Enix overhauled its account investigations and internal procedures; the company also lined up the new account security tokens. The entire process took months.
In this case, all SE needs to do is speak up.
Tell us what happened. Explain it. Justify it. You won’t make everyone happy, but at least we’ll know we matter.
How much do you care about your customers?
Again, the silence is deafening.