Mai 2c on Server Merge and Lv99

Hello fellow readers =) It’s been a long time since I’ve written an update! I’ve actually been a little bit more active in game… mostly socializing ;) I’m just a little busy exping RL but nevertheless, I’m still around and not quit / rage quit lolz.

LovelyDagger, Daggy, FFXI Maiev FFXI Lv99 Red Mage

Maiev’s Lv99 Excitement by LovelyDagger

Limit Break Radio Ep51

Before I continue, Daggy felt my excitement for Lv99, and drew a Maiev with the Lv99 taru underwear. ROFL :D Please enjoy!

Nope, I didn’t take part of it if that’s what you’re wondering lol, but I did get a chance to listen under the Starbreakers status of the live recording of Episode 51 of Limit Break Radio (I think… I’ve listen to 45, 48 and 51). Starbreakers are the people who gets to listen as LBR performs the live recording. In this episode, ringthree was the guest for this discussion. He writes the infamous ringthree blog under blogspot ;)

Anyway, this episode was actually talking about the XI updates from VanaFest 2010, which I wanted to write about anyway. Having played WoW and FFXI and experience both end-game and expansion leeps, I’ve definitely got a few inputs in regards to the VanaFest announcement, and some thought of this overall Lv99 thing.


Level 99 cap raise was definitely the biggest catch of the whole VanaFest 2010. Having played FFXI since 2003, they made it very clear back then the level cap will remain at 75. Over the years, content was developed around the fact that the leveling cap will be Lv75. To satisfying the craving for Exp, Squeenix developed a merit system to accommodate players who just loves to grind. I have to say I was pretty good in grinding in all of the jobs I played. I solo on Blue Mage in the early days, I’ve play RDM in different stages of FFXI such as healing RDM for KRT, performing skillchain in Sky Statue Party in 2004, walk around parties doing weapons at sky, I’ve also exp-ed @ Uleguerand Range etc… goes on and on. I was pretty convinced that Squeenix planned to develop content around the Lv75 system.

As time goes on, Squeenix released more merits, tier2 merits as well as new JA’s. A very predictable move and update from SE. But predictability doesn’t bring excitement! Then in 2010, Squeenix decided to throw a curve-ball and announce Lv99… they did say that they will make each job unique and is aware of it etc… and introduce new stuff etc.

Now lets think of Lv99. First of all, we all know that a lot of stuff in Vanadiel will need to be adjusted. Is it SE’s plan to make this a solo game now? It does sounds fun to solo Byakko, but problem is… it drops Lv75 gear. So in that case, equipment definitely needs an adjustment… to at least make these content more worthwhile than just soloing it. Is it going to scale like Level Sync? We don’t know as of this point but.. it sounds like a possibility. If equipment doesn’t scale, then it’s really just a one-time fun. Once you’ve done it, it gets boring, like killing a Bumblebee.

Story Telling by Rinielenika of Fenrir

Story Telling – Old School FFXI!! by Rinielenika.

We all know jobs will be broken (as mentioned in LBR Ep51 as well).

If SE does decide to make adjustment, that is a lot of adjustment around Vanadiel. Are they simply going to scale up all mobs by adding +24? Equipment will probably need to be scaled up by 33% as well in terms of strength. You also can’t simply add 24 level to all mobs. Then we won’t have Lv1 mobs. That’s a lot of issues to think about before the June update. This is all assuming SE will scale up all equipment and mobs (which IMO, is an okay idea).

Another method they could approach this is… Lv99 cap is only to the new areas. I mean afterall, an expansion is also announced among all these update. So while you are in old content, stuff will remain Lv75. Once you exit the area, you will have access to the new cap of Lv99. This will not only save development time (since… they need to code the new expansion as well), but it takes a lot of the issues out of rebalancing and rescaling. This also keeps all the existing equipment on par and preserve its value, as well as preserving the old content for play. I mean, as an old school player, I still enjoy the old days where we have Summoner in Tank Party during Fafnir, calling out Garuda for blinks and tanking it with Paladin. Now there is no fun and glory of killing Fafnir, with all these merit points and Lv99 soon… it makes Fafnir a joke.

Last method… I hope not is really, recreate all the equipment for Lv75 to 99. One important thing to note is the level cap is raise in stages, with 3 month gap inbetween, so they could potentially recreate all gear. This is kinda similar to the WoW model, which is something I wouldn’t like. But with this model, it encourages new player (provided they know about it), into joining, since it seems like everyone is starting on the same ground (with all your old gear as garbage). But then again, the game is 7 years old for US (8 for JP), it would be pretty hard to get new players (also mentioned in LBR Ep51). It’s got out-dated graphics and still not too friendly for a newbie. With FFXIV around, I doubt their objective is to bring in new players.

A Business Perspective of Lv99

I’d like to think all this from another perspective, a business perspective of this announcement. Lets keep one important fact in mind. SE makes a lot from FFXI, from me and you. More than many other FF series due to the fact that other FF series can be pirated. We’ve almost paid over 1k for each player that play since 2003. That’s a lot of money. Times that by a peak of 100k subscriber (Lets say an average of 30k per month). That’s pretty good cash at one point just from subscription. This doesn’t even take into account the initial cost of the game, any expansion that you bought. Remember that announcement of “most character created”? That was coupled with Mog Bonanza. Everybody was creating extra mules to increase the chance of winning at least a Rank 4 item. To SE, it was great money, extra income. Instead of 12.95 per month, if everyone created 9 extra mules, that’s kinda like increasing the average monthly fee to 13.75 etc… (spreading the average cost over a year). Then you have the teleport body from buying The Star Onions (which was okay, if you wanted the product anyway). To me, it seems like Squeenix was doing a lot of these for cash. They know we are addicted to digital achievements, and is abusing it by offering it to us, indirectly =P. RMT indirectly.

Little Economics

Afterall, Squeenix is not a charity, but a business. They are here to satisfy their shareholders just like any other business. Buying a combo in McDonald always seems like a better deal than buying them separately because, its all part of the conspiracy to get you to spend the “maximum amount” of money that you are willing to pay.

Lets say McD Burgers cost 3 dollars, Fries is 2 bucks, Drink is 1 dollar. Buying them are 6 bucks separately. But a combo maybe cost 5.50. You might like fries and Burger (3 for burger, 2 for fries, costing you 5 bucks), but don’t really need a drink because you got water. But hay, it’s “only” 50c more for a drink. It’s a good deal. Lets say it only cost them 10% of the selling price to make. Well if you didn’t buy a drink… Burger is (3 dollar – 30c cost to make = 2.7 profit), 2 for fries – 0.20 = 1.80, Coke is 1 dollar – 10c = 0.90. Originally if you just bought burger, they would only be making 2.7 from Burger + 20c from Fries = 2.90 from you. But if the combo of costing 50c less works, they still make 2.90 + (coke is 1 dollar – 10c to make – 50c discount = 40c profit). They make 3.30 from you! They didn’t make as much, but the end point is, they still make more from you.

Maiev of DuckHUNT Shellholder, FFXI Fenrir

Maiev of DuckHUNT – by Aene

This is exactly what I think about when I think of SE’s action taken from this. By spreading it out, not only it gives them time to do adjustment, but you now spread your fun of leveling again throughout the 3 updates. That is 9 extra months of subscription per player. In LBR Ep51, they were discussing the 10 dollar addon. Immediately this model came to mind. It’s harder to sell 30 dollar expansion vs 10 dollar addon. It sounds cheaper but hay look at the end of the day, you still bought all 3, costing you 30. With a little sweet robe that you get after the addon, it creates an even more temptation to buy it. Since it’s Rare/Ex, it doesn’t even have an effect on game balance as much (well.. the Robe does replace a few equipment…. but not entirely). Add-on sold like this also provides them a chance to fix anything wrong with the previous add-on. (Though, the quest are still pretty crap). They were for sure testing out delivery method. One thing though was it was re-named as an addon, so unlike an expansion, the quality and expectation is just isn’t the same. At the end of the day, SE can always say this is an “addon”, not an expansion. Add-on, like browsers, are adding “additional” features. Not really expanding. It’s completely optional, and its what SE is doing IMO. Another method to sell an expansion, but with an excuse saying that …. hay quality doesn’t have to be up to par since its simply just an “add-on”.

So the way I see Lv99 is, by throwing out a curveball and… not announcing that much of a detail, it leaves it up to the players to do guess work. For those that got nothing to do before (like me, completely maxed out merit + jobs that I like), it gives me and a lot of other adventurers a reason to start leveling subs out of 37 to 49 to accommodate the new subjob at Lv99. This all comes down to squeezing the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay from a dead game (well, declining population). Now it all seems interesting, you are more willingly to pay that 12.95 versus before… it was just a dead game.

All for Profit?

Ringthree and Aniero all have different opinions on it. Ringthree think it could have been a little earlier. While Aniero think it’s done with the perfect timing. Me? I think its perfect as well. Lets go back a little bit! When ToAU was released, the game was still pretty alive. We often get lagsieged. Salvage and Dynamis was still packed. During that time, the Burning Crusade was also released. I was drawn into it, questing on my Blood Elf hunter while I was waiting for Salvage entry. But one thing that was sure was… the game was still lively.

Squeenix shareholders was probably okay, but not happy that they weren’t getting MORE players. Well, if you can’t get more players, then squeeze more out of the existing ones. WORLD TRANSFER opened, now that was a cash grab, definitely a good way to satisfy shareholders by changing ONE VARIBLE LOL (SERVER ID 9 to SERVER ID 7, thanks for cash XD)! Time pass by and Wings of the Goddess came out. Squeenix finally satisfy the casual gamer group by developing campaign, where people with little time to play (obviously not enough to get an exp time), to do something productive. Campaign was often busy and it definitely kept the casual player in check. One thing that I think a lot of us neglect is the amount of casual players. Remember that a lot of people have a RL obligation, and have a busy life. Hence they do not have all the time in this world to play. Therefore, it was very important to provide a source of good entertainment for the time that they have after a working day. End-game players is just a small portion of the FFXI community. A lot of people place once of twice a week, come in to socialize, to craft a little. You rarely see them but SE does. As much as it matters, a nerd and a casual both pays 12.95. It’s easier to satisfy casual players, and they are probably the bigger group (judging from Squeenix’ statistics counter every year). It’s more wise for SE to focus on casual more than the hardcore players.

With a slight decline with population over time, Campaign provide the perfect solution in keeping players happy by providing self-paced virtual achievements! It is something both the casual and the elitist can participate. You don’t need a party anymore. The add-on was timed okay. The content was generally crappy and slowly (as per LBR discussion), but I honestly think the… development was pressured by the upper management to grab more cash. Grabbing every single penny that they cane make from you.

With FFXI getting older and content getting crappier and more slowly, the population significantly declined. The server merge was a great hint. With shareholders saying “Hay, FFXIV isn’t ready, so its probably time to Squeeze more out of FFXI”! They had to come up with another idea…. ah ha! Lets throw the players something they always wanted!

  • Odin and Alexander AVATAR (Which players was begging for years)
  • Lv Cap Increase!

Instantly, we stirred up a heated discussion of the possibilities of Lv99, as well as the fun. SE did it, they got a lot of people pumped up again, revive some old character and started playing again. It’s also a good way to minimize the impact or negative aspect of a server merge . Players reactivated to enjoy the new content (yay more subscription!), but the most important part of all this was, they are taking out servers, which lowers the overall maintenance and operating cost, bandwidth and electricity. The savings are all profit! We all just look at the Lv99 possibilities and forgot all about the impact of a server merge. That reminds me of… China. Cheap shoes and TV’s makes us all forget about human rights and the June 4th, 1989 incident in China… lol)

Lv99 made FFXI like FFXI-X2 LOL!

Name Change on FFXI Server Merge, Lame Sauce

Name Change is such a lame sauce.

Now with all the server merge, not everyone are satisfy with it. Some people lost names, some people probably felt like the new home isn’t that great. I mean if SE really wanted to do it right, they would have locked name creation on the same day as announcement as well as providing people a CHOICE of where they want to go. I mean yea, I could see why they didn’t want to offer that choice. They can ensure that the server merge are paired with servers with similar economy and conditions, as well as ensure that the population are well balanced. To ensure you aren’t merging 2 medium server. 1 medium + 1 small and not 1 medium + 1 medium size servers. So if you don’t like…well WORLD TRANSFER :) 25 bucks to change a VARIABLE hahaha! MONEY!

Don’t get me wrong, the server merge actually worked out. Otak is on Quetz, my 2nd Alt was in Midgard, SE decided to merge Quetz and Midgard =P Totally no complaint there! LOLZ (Saved me 25 bucks actually!)

However, there are side effects to this server merge. Some felt like they lost a home and quit. Some assumed that their gear is going to go to crap, so without a 2nd thought, already unsubscribed (I know at least 4 people around me that did it), but at the same time, I know 2 people at least who came back for this. So overall, I think it’s a gain. Even if SE don’t gain or lose subscription, at least they are keeping the ones that are still subscribing, to continue subscribing with the new level cap stuff :)

I believe Squeenix at this point, is all about the money. I can’t help myself but think that at this point, its not even about the game anymore. I do see the fun, but most importantly the profit from it. They need it for infrastructure for FFXIV, and this is a perfect time to get it. FFXIV isn’t even ready so there’s going to be time where they need the cash. FF13 is being sold, but it’s also not enough since people are selling it as they finish the game (I mean, its the most sold game in the 2nd hand market…). Therefore, I believe a lot of the move Squeenix now is about profit, more on the profit than the players and the fun. Generating the cash to prepare for FFXIV launch.

WoW Model

One thing that I always like about FFXI was…. no matter how long you quit or take a break for, when you subscribe again, you feel instantly back to the game. Your equipment is a little obsolute, but isn’t enough for you to spend like a few weeks to re-gear. The old content more or less are still around and… most importantly, the friends that you used to play with are mostly still around since… unlike WoW, your friend might now play on their Alt’s and other class… and you probably don’t know their name anymore.

WoW’s model has always been increasing the level cap and high rate of equipment replacement. It was clearly known that gear gets replaced one after another after each update. As more instances and raid opens, the new year replaces the old. It is a model the adopted, and it worked.

It was always unique to me until… FFXI announce Lv99. This brought my attention to the WoW model. Is Squeenix really trying to take what’s successful in WoW and try to implement it into FFXI? Take some portion of it if not all? I highly doubt but in a way, you got to learn from the best as well. Squeenix had a first-mover advantage, being 1 year ahead of WoW, they had the chance to grab a lot of subscribers but they fail to do so, and many quit to play WoW instead. But those that stayed FFXI, enjoyed FFXI and they enjoy it because of what it was…

Overtime, there were various features that was similar to WoW. Instances was one bit, set bonus was another. Campaign system was kinda like WoW’s casual exp system and now you have level cap increase. It maybe just so that its kinda similar. I doubt Squeenix was actually copying other games’ mechanism, but then at the same time… it worked for them. Maybe that’s exactly what we need.

WoW continues to climb in terms of subscription. The game continues to market itself despite its only a single platform, and with dated graphics. One thing that was obvious to me as a player who plays both FFXI and WoW is, WoW developer listens in while FFXI developer doesn’t. Last check, we only get automated replies when we send in suggestion. Whereas Blizzard, we could see Blue Post (aka Blizzard Poster) acknowledging ideas etc. Blizzard’s Blue Post may never get to the development, but to a player, its always nice to see that they care about their customers. SE never provided this type of customer care. Look at the hacking spree 2 years ago. It took them ages to develop counter measures. Powerless GM that can’t really do anything other than getting you un-stuck and banning people for walking faster than normal when you walk over the pond over at Caedarva Mire.

WoW continues to develop content that is catered to the players. A PvP system that rewards exp, more BG, random instance to recycle old content and rewarding more heroic badges. Whereas SE keeps going backwards… enhancing the NPC system that is so unusable. A chocobo race where you aren’t the person racing, but betting lol. Mobs that is unbeatable and when it is, it gets patched because it wasn’t the way it was “intended” to kill.

Midnight Excursion by PriestessOfPie, Maiev of Fenrir FFXI

Midnight Excursion – by PriestessOfPie

Mai Thoughts

At the end of the day, I think Squeenix’ move of increasing the level cap is certainly a good move, but a move IMO that is motivated by the money than the players (in my perspective!!!!). It was a move that satisfy both ends, the business end as well as the players. It was also a move to cover the negative impact of server merge. It was a real perfect smart move. It’s not a bad thing and we got to understand…. like any other companies, they are motivated by profits as well. I think everyone is happy, both SE and the players. It gives the players a reason to subscribe and gives SE a longer life-span of the game. Lets just hope SE doesn’t screw up the Lv99 upgrade. Okay? lolz

Last but not least, I wanted to say thank you for the Birthday wishes and presents :) especially from Otak ^^, Priestessofpie and Fireal lolz :) Otak’s present is {secret} but I could share PoP’s present ;) The artwork on the right is drawn by Lyali of Titan (aka PriestessOfPie / PoP).

8 Responses to “Mai 2c on Server Merge and Lv99”

  1. Jowah says:

    The idea of a lvl99 BLM makes me literally wet all over my pants.
    Srsly I could solo the world.

  2. Zeypher says:

    I agree with the point’s in this article, but you might want to watch how you use ‘is’ and ‘are’.

  3. Raislin says:

    Keep writing! I wish I’d discovered this place earlier. Will you be active and writing about XIV? :)

  4. Mike D says:

    Awesome write up! Glad to see you’re back into the writing game :D

  5. bungiefan says:

    So it’s been 5 years since this happened, and we have not just had level 99, but Job Points as the new merits for level 99, Did you get a chance to come back for any of the 3 free periods they have done?

    The game has changed a lot. Gearing and leveling is not a low process now.

    The last storyline has been announced, and they just had a 10 day free period that reactivated all old accounts. Starcade is still being his usual self. Storylines are completable in a reasonable time period to keep track of what is going on. Asura has had a huge influx of people due to Reddit forming an LS there. I’m having the most fun with FFXI I have ever had.


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