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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.

===

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.

===

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?

9 comments

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  1. Tramell Hawkins

    Yes I also was impressed by what they put into play. Going to enjoy the free month. Guess they are taking stock and settling on the game will be in a state where people will pay for it in November. A lot of things to be done. Lets see what SE is made of. Even if people aren’t impressed with the ward changes I plan on using them to my benefit.

  2. hunter

    definitely a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. giving a free month to the people who like the game is great marketing, but to those who don’t like the game they’ll hold it up as proof the game sucks.

  3. João Carlos

    “Most of the people who don’t, well, they dislike it because it’s not a WoW clone.”

    Fixed for the truth.

    with relation to the change to Market Wards, you forgot something. A customer looking for a shield will go the MW that have the shield as a set product. It is problable the customer will find the shield htere. But if you put a shield for sell at other MW, it is problable that it will sit there for ages and no be sold. The customers at the other wards are looking for otehr items. If you think about the fact you need custoemrs for sell your tiesm, you see it is better marketing put your retainer at the correct MW.

    1. Chris

      You make a good point and I haven’t been in yet to see how it’s working for myself. I’m still betting that we’ll still see a ton of clutter, though, because the average player only has one retainer to use. Most bazaars I’ve seen have several different item types because they don’t want to pay the extra dollar a month for extra ones. I’m hoping players will sort them by what the majority of their “for sale” items are, though, which should make finding what you want quicker. I’d have been content having found that shield after twenty minutes. Much more than that and I start to get tired of searching.

      Have you been in yet? I’m hoping you’re right and that searching is quicker. It will still be more cumbersome than an auction house but they’re on the right track. I’m thinking when they let us have extra retainers for sorting, the market wards will be much more functional. I’m going to check them out for myself tonight, so I’ll come back and let you know how it looks on Mysidia.

      I forgot to mention another point in the post: bazaars open automatically when you click on them now. That will make it so much quicker all on its own. So, we’re definitely moving in the right direction.

      1. João Carlos

        I found a new wand after 5 minutes looking for one today morning at the Spellcraft Ward. But that place had a lot of retainers selling junk, and only 4-5 retainers selling wands and scepters.

        There are a lot of Market Wards that the players have no idea what they will put for sell and you see a mess. Players are confounding mats with components with the final product. And you see a lot of players just trying to sell any mat at any place. I just saw a retainer selling food at the Fieldcraft Ward (the correct place is the Kitchener’s Ward), and I think that is the most strange place for put a food seller…

        I saw some players inside the MW, however, crafting the items specified for that MW, aparently for put them in retainers for sell there. For be more specific, I saw a crafter mass producing maple wands at the Spellcraft Ward and a alchemist mass crafting alpha potions at the Chirurgeon Ward. So, I thinkt that with time that wards will have a lot of retainers selling the same kind of stuff (and at big quantities) and who don’t follow that rules will find few customers.

        As an experience, I put some hempen armor for sell at the Clothiers Ward and it sell fast. I just put this night some undyed hempen cloth for sell at the Tailors Ward and I will see tomorrow morning how much was sold. Take note that it is easier to find what price your competitor’s are asking this way (I just set the undyed hempen cloth 50 gil lower than the two retainers I saw selling the same stuff, I too want see if they will lower the price).

  4. Eliot

    Actually, I have to say, the revised market wards are pretty tight.

    1. Chris "Syeric" Coke

      Good, man. I’m glad to hear it. I’m going to update the post with my own reflections tonight. I like the idea of the market ward system, but that first attempt was just too cumbersome to manage. Sorting should do a lot to help it if the players actually sort by the majority of what they’re selling.

      Thanks for stopping by, Eliot! I’ve been following your articles over on Massively. I’m sorry the community over there has been so filled with vitriol whenever the game is mentioned. It really is quite fun.

      1. Eliot

        There are pretty strong incentives to sort by what you actually want to sell, since the taxes are decreased notably on “correct” items and increased on “incorrect” items. I’ve also found more than a few players who decided that now was a great time to play merchant – got a haubergeon for 60,000 gil from someone camping in the armor ward and asking politely if I wanted something crafted. The fact that they will be adding a search function to the wards to highlight any retainers with the item you want should just help make it smoother.

        It’s still not a world-spanning auction house a la WoW, but I’ve gone from asking why the heck that was such a problem to thinking that it could actually work.

        And I’m glad to hear you’ve been digging the coverage; it’s an uphill battle at times with people dead-set on flaming any post no matter how unrelated, but there’s a reason I don’t comment back often. I’ve been following your own take on the game ever since you first talked about your time in the beta – it’s of personal interest to me how many people have fallen in love with the game once they’ve gotten over the humps of design.

  5. Emyln

    It is a step in the right direction. Adding 30 days of free play is indeed a good move to maintain the current base of players. However Lego universe is coming out on 26th Oct (With VERY good pre-reviews). Cataclysm on 7th Dec. Not to mention a potential bevy of MMO’s scheduled to come out in 2011.

    I have no clue as to what the Japanese MMO market is like, but I don’t think any MMO or game can recover after such a terrible launch in NA or Europe. (Terrible from a review’s perspective) But who knows, if there’s any company that can do it Square might pull it off. But ya it definitely needs an Auction house. The last thing they want is a Maple Story scenario where 1000’s set up a “stall” in any open spot.

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