Today marks Final Fantasy XI’s thirteenth anniversary since its North American release way back on October 28, 2003 (it released in Japan initially on May 16, 2002). In an era where many MMOs are dead on arrival, the fact that FFXI is still physically with us is an incredibly impressive feat.
What is perhaps more impressive is that even though much of the MMORPG world has passed Final Fantasy XI by (even Square Enix has mostly moved on with Final Fantasy XIV), FFXI still charges the same exact subscription that it had on day one: $12.95 per month.
While many MMOs that either fail to meet expectations or are over the hill go for a free-to-play model that includes some form of micro-transactions or an optional subscription with perks, Final Fantasy XI hasn’t budged, not even once. It’s $12.95 a month and it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
In addition, although it looks pretty good still for a game that debuted on the PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy XI is outdated mechanically by most MMORPG standards. Some of the problems that turned people off to the game years ago such as gear swapping still exists, and no new expansions are in the cards.
To an outsider, this might seem outrageous and shocking. You might be asking yourself how on earth does Square Enix still manage to sustain a player base charging that much for a game that is years past its prime and has ceased major content updates?
Despite those problems, FFXI still has a few aces in the hole that gives it an advantage over modern MMORPGs, such as its younger brother FFXIV. It’s still able to earn its monthly subscription from the thousands of players still logging in daily across its 15 active servers.
So how exactly is Square Enix doing it? Let’s break it down.