Final Fantasy XIV might've had a lot of issues, but according to its director, the biggest was flowerpots.
Final Fantasy XIV has surpassed sixteen million registered players in 2019, which means that a staggering number of people have experienced the realm of Eorzea. Players who remember the state of Final Fantasy XIV at launch would never have expected the game to have become as popular as it is today, as it was a total mess back in 2010.
The issues with Final Fantasy XIV were manyfold, which included (but were not limited to) the terrible interface, the lack of tutorials for important features, the fact that the player often had to run across huge empty zones due to a limited teleportation resource, and the inclusion of one of the worst trading mechanics in the history of MMOs. Final Fantasy XIV was panned at release by critics and the game seemed destined for failure.
There were many reasons why Final Fantasy XIV was considered to be a disappointment at launch, but director Naoki Yoshida outlined a strange one during a presentation at GDC 2014. According to Yoshida, one of the biggest problems with the game was the flowerpots.
According to Yoshida, the original flowerpots of Eorzea used around one thousand polygons and one hundred and fifty lines of shader code, which is roughly the same amount that is used for player characters. The fact that such taxing graphical elements existed meant that Final Fantasy XIV could only depict around twenty players on the screen at any one time, which limited the game's appeal as an MMO. A player of the current version of Final Fantasy XIV will likely have encountered a group of players in one of the cities in the game and seen all of the marvelous characters on display, which would have been impossible in the first version of the game.
Final Fantasy XI was the most impressive looking MMO of its time and Square Enix wanted to reuse that strategy with Final Fantasy XIV. However, the devotion to high-quality graphics limited the basic functions of the game. Eorzea once had beautiful flowerpots, but only a few people could appreciate them at any one time.
Square Enix could easily have abandoned Final Fantasy XIV, but the decision was made to save Eorzea by destroying it. The servers for Final Fantasy XIV were shut down from November 2012 to August 2013, when the game was relaunched with the new subtitle of A Realm Reborn. Final Fantasy XIV has gone from strength to strength, with the recent Shadowbringers expansion receiving almost universal critical acclaim. It seems that the fate of Eorzea could not be derailed by a few flowerpots, no matter how detailed they were.