Alas, all good things must come to an end, and one of Final Fantasy’s most misunderstood chapters is no longer available on two of its platforms. As has been planned for months now, Square Enix has shut down the servers powering both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions of Final Fantasy XI, making the magical realm of Vana’diel accessible only through your PC.
Back in the day and even during the beta test, when this idea of “online console gaming” was still new, I used to play Final Fantasy XI on the PlayStation 2, and I was somewhat in love with it. True, back then, it was a brutally punishing game, exacerbated by the PlayStation 2’s shaky network, but I still pushed on my adventures, taming Chocobos, learning magic, squabbling with the PC crowd.
Sadly, many fans never gave Final Fantasy XI the love it deserved, blasting it for outlandish ideas like “subscription fees,” “international servers,” “cross-play servers,” and “forced multiplayer.” It’s amazing how far the mindset of gamers has come since 2002, isn’t it? However, these fans missed out on one of Final Fantasy’s most complete worlds, loaded with lore, storylines, and interesting characters and locations.
Even series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi claims it is the closest “modern” game to his original vision for the series.
Final Fantasy XI also proved to be Square Enix’s most profitable game of all time, with the decade of continued support easily able to eclipse the money made off of Final Fantasy VII. Now with Final Fantasy XIV enjoying critical praise and a slowburn to success, Final Fantasy XI’s heir has already been established, meaning Square Enix has no more need for its trailblazing MMORPG.
At least things aren’t all gloom and doom. The PC version is still up and running, and hopefully it lasts for years to come. I’ve always dreamed about visiting Vana’diel once again and seeing how it’s changed over time, and that option will always be there, even once the “pirates” take over when Square Enix totally pulls the plug.
Plenty of games go the way of the dodo these days, but Final Fantasy is in a lucky enough position to be blessed with passionate fans that will never let it die.