Anybody been following this particular soap opera? It's been a good, long time since we've seen a launch that's this unapologetically fucked up, and frankly speaking, I'm loving it. To wit: - FFXIV enters beta, and almost instantly courts controversy after news sites start reporting that the game has a "Fatigue System" that penalizes you for playing more than 1 hour a day. - The game's producer immediately slams these reports, claiming that "Overseas sites are full of falsehoods. They just put words together and fabricate statements. Japanese sites then mistranslate these. That fatigue system isn’t in and was just something they made up." - Square Enix then announces that FFXIV will feature a Fatigue System that penalizes you for playing more than 8 hours a week. - FFXIV launches. SQEX demands a one-month embargo on professional reviews. *Un*professional reviews on Amazon.jp average about 1.5 stars. - In an amusing aside, players who bought the collector's edition complain that their OMG SPECIAL LIMITED TUMBLER comes with mold (!) and a warning label telling them not to fill it with fruit juice, milk, or carbonated beverages. - Intrepid launch players quickly find that entire game-world areas have been copied and pasted over and over again, resulting in the exact same fucking mountain passes showing up in four or five locations. It's at this stage that we start to hear rumors that SQEX outsourced the game's production to a Chinese sweat-shop. - Those rumors get another spin after Japanese players discover that all of the katakana (the Japanese characters used to write foreign-language words) have been replaced with, uh, Chinese kanji. This results in a lot of familiar Final Fantasy terms (which are typically written in katakana) being translated into High Bullshit. You know Chocobos? Those yellow riding beasts the FF team stole from Miyazaki back in the day? Yeah, they're "Horse-Birds" now. - Cue Japanese players shitting bricks. - Once the brick-shitting hits critical levels, SQEX finally offers an official explanation, claiming the sudden proliferation of Horse-Birds "was [...] intended to build atmosphere." I fuck you not. - When this does not cool tempers, SQEX capitulates and renames the Horse-Birds to... "Chocopos". - This does not help matters. - Nor does SQEX's decision to extend the free trial period from 30 to 60 days after the game's quality is blasted on every message board on both sides of the Pacific. In fact, average server population drops from 43,000 to 36,000 in less than a month. - The professional review embargo ends. Gamespot calls the game a "step backwards for the genre". 1UP gives it a D+. GameSpy compares the game to a filthy bathroom. - Another hilarious controversy ensues after FFXIV's in-game achievement system reveals that many of the 'celebrity players' proudly advertised on the FFXIV website stopped playing the game shortly after launch. - After a sudden and steep share price dip, rumors circulate that a major SQEX shareholder - and disgruntled FFXIV player - has sold off $26M worth of Square Enix stock after finally getting fed up with the game's shit-tacular quality. - SQEX's stock price recovers. FFXIV's player numbers do not. Server population is now down 50% from launch. - SQEX responds with a mega-patch that prevents players from accessing server population numbers... oh, and by completely replacing most of the key team members, including the producer. At the time of writing, FFXIV still isn't charging a monthly fee, and probably won't do so for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, SQEX's profits have plummeted, oh, about 90%. Good times, kids. Good times.