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FFXIV Tries To Make Right; Market Changes a Good Step

Producer Hiromichi Tanaka (left) and Director Nobuaki KomotoAn Update After Experiencing the Market Ward System: After a couple of commenters mentioned how much more functional the system is, I hopped in-game a little earlier than I'd planned. Good news: the system is much more functional than it was before. I've updated the title of this post to reflect that.

An Update After Experiencing the Market Wards Firsthand: After a couple of commenters mentioned how much more functional the system is, I hopped in-game a little earlier than I’d planned. The good news is that the system is much more functional than it was before (I’ve updated the title of this post to reflect that). The bad news is that there’s still quite a bit of item flooding going on.

Let’s put it in perspective, though. This last week, I spent around three hours in two attempts trying to find a shield. With no form of sorting between wards, it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Today, I went right to the battlecraft ward and found it within about 10 minutes. I could still see it being a pain from time to time, so there’s still a need a true auction house with search functionality.

Since players only have one free retainer included with their monthly account cost, I wasn’t surprised to find more than just weapons and shields in the battlecraft ward– but at least many of them did. This may not be the case on every server, though. Regardless, the first day on Mysidia is a marked improvement. The true test will be how the sorting pans out in a week or two, once more people get their stuff posted.

TL;DR: The market wards are much better; however, finding specific crafting items or rare drops may still be a challenge. They’re not an auction house but this is a more workable option until one gets implemented.

It was a pleasant surprise this morning to find that Square Enix is stepping up and trying to make right with their players. It’s no surprise to see that they’re rushing to fix things players have complained about, but it is a surprise to see that they’re giving anyone who bought the game another free month of play time. I’m sorry, but that’s just straight-up a classy move. They didn’t have to do that and lots of people doubted that they’d even pay attention to complaints. We painted this picture of a company that doesn’t listen, fairly enough from what I’ve heard about how FFXI was ran, but I think this proves otherwise. This might actually prove to be a saving grace for the company if they scramble and add a lot over the next month.

The Message From the Director released alongside today’s patch definitely seems to look in that direction, too. Over this next *free* month, they’ll be reworking the control scheme and UI. They’re also planning to rework how their server side architecture handles player congestion to get rid of a lot of that city-lag we’ve been experiencing. Then, in December, we can look forward to our first major content patch, of which they’re aiming to release every three months. This all makes me very happy.

While I’m excited at the prospect of getting another free month (my investment in the game is now down to $30), I have to wonder if it will really make much difference to the people they’re trying to reach. What I mean is this: the community is pretty much split. The people who like the game love it and would have been happy to pay for another month. Most of the people who don’t, well, they dislike it because it’s not the normal MMO we’ve come to expect. Short of adding a bunch of quests, allowing jumping, global chat, and completely reworking the UI and control scheme, I don’t think they’ll suddenly discover FFXIV is the game for them. Maybe I’m wrong, but from where I’m sitting, XIV is a niche game if ever there was one.

Take the comments on the “free month” post as Massively. Will those people ever be satisfied with the game? I doubt it. I mean, where are the people HAPPY for the free month over there? No one’s even talking about watching or holding out to see. It’s all the same cynicism that’s been espoused and *will be* espoused so long as XIV doesn’t pull up roots and go Kill Ten Rats on us. If they did, those same people are only going to complain that it’s not original enough. Square can’t win, but, heck, at least it’s nice to see them extend an olive branch and say “hey, give us a chance, we’re listening.” … Even if the responses they get from the LCDs is “you’re just like a dominatrix, leather and sodomy, HUR HUR HUR.”

They also patched in their first round of fixes to the Market Ward system, but let’s be honest, these aren’t any kind of a fix. They might *help* make things better but they will still be the utter dredge they’ve always been.

The way it worked before was simple enough, there were multiple, unsorted instace ward where players could summon their shops and sell things. In theory, it sounds alright, kind of like a swap meet. In practice, it was an utter nightmare. The first time I went in there was after I discovered you could no longer buy a shield from any vendor in Ul’dah. I spent, kid you not, over an hour and a half searching upwards of 40 bazaars only to not find it. I did the same thing last night and gave up after an hour.

*The next two paragraphs are my thoughts on reading the release. Please see the update at the top of this post for my personal impressions after seeing the system.

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The patch today now sorts the wards by item type. Again, that sounds good in theory but I doubt that it will make much difference for a couple of reasons. First is the incentive. Why should players put their retainers in the right ward? For a discount on the listing tax. Okay, good, except that, if they leave them in the wrong ward, it won’t cost them any more than it ever has. Second, players are only given one free retainer. That means, unless you’re only planning on selling one item type, markets will still be flooded with unsorted items. They say we’ll be given more retainers in the future but, for now, they’re another dollar a month. The path of least resistance is to put up the retainers wherever.

Yeah, it will help and is a step in the right direction, but Market Wards will still be a pain. Until there is some kind of sortable list (coming in November), clicking from merchant to merchant will still take far too long. This system just needs to be scrapped, IMO. It doesn’t work.

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Then again, hey, it’s not like we’re paying anything while we wait. I’ve also found it much more efficient and cost effective to talk to guildies and work together to make items, rather than spend forever and a day searching. So, there are ways around it. The whole economy is still obtuse, however, and I’m glad it’s high on their priority list.

Overall, I’m happy with today’s flood of news and information. Square is stepping up their communication both ways. We’re on the path towards fixing up some much needed issues and they’re taking ownership of the frustrations players have encountered. You can’t ask for much more than that.

I know a lot of your have put the game to the side though. Will this encourage you to come back or keep an eye on it or is it too little too late?

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