Criticism 2 - Cross Realm and Community - A Paradox of MMOs Come to a Head
One thing that Yoshida has repeated constantly is that an MMO should be a community. Just recently, he was quoted on catering to console-specific servers saying that this would destroy a community by putting artificial walls up around different modes of entry into the same content. However, there are already artificial boundaries around players - servers.
The most difficult problem of MMOs at the moment is having to choose a server to go to. On some servers there might be some of my real life friends who might play sometimes but are not as hardcore as me. I can't leave them on a whim because I see them everyday. On other servers, my favorite forum community might be setting up shop because they identify with that server's name or they decided by voting. The fact that this choice happens at all is a testament to the destructive power of the server: all players lose a chance at some sort community by choosing to play on a specific server.
This criticism is a strange one to make for FF14 because it parallels another criticism that people make of the Duty Finder. The Duty Finder works a lot like the Looking For Group (LFG) tool in World of Warcraft. This tool allows players to decide what content they'd like to queue for, what job they'd like to queue as, and if they'd like to join a party in progress or start new. This tool then looks through the database of other players queued on the Duty Finder and assembles them into a four-person party, two Damage Dealers, one Tank, and one Healer.
This tool has caused quite a stir within the beta community. For example, on the beta forums, there were a dozen or more threads discussing the impact of the Duty Finder as a community destroying tool. These players felt that it was a slap in the face to be paired with people so they could get into a party quickly instead of having the option to choose people to go into a dungeon with from their server.
Their complaints are couched in the server structures that have maintained larger MMOs for years. Only recently, nine years after it began, has the mightiest of all MMOs, World of Warcraft, started to tackle this concept. Virtual realms, Real ID, Looking for Raid, Looking for Groups, and all these things are meant to lessen the physical boundaries between servers. They do this through allowing members of different servers to interact which ends up expanding the community.
Where the FF14:ARR Duty Finder fails is by not also considering in things like friend lists, cross-server whispers, or even a "Recently Dutied With" list. In addition, WoW has been addressing this more with things like Cross-Realm Zones, Virtual Realms (virtually combining servers), and Real ID raid groups.
Here, we come upon what might be a "first game syndrome symptom" but this is something that has plagued MMOs for quite some time. If you want to foster a sense of community, make it easier for players from different servers to communicate with each other.
Make it easier to forget that I play on Midgarsormr, that some of my friends play on Carbuncle, that my forum friends play on Excalibur, that my Twitter friends play on Gilgamesh, and we will all be better for it.
Finally, my last criticism has to do with being a fan of Final Fantasy.