Today Square Enix announced “important changes” to its fundamental policies in an attempt to prevent what it deems abusive behavior among Final Fantasy XIV players.
The publisher explained that until now game masters operated under a philosophy that “this is an MMORPG and frequent in-game intervention by Square Enix would inhibit player experience.” Due to that philosophy, game masters intervened only in severe cases of conflict like sexual or racial discrimination.
Conversely, they would not take action in cases judged to be “annoying but not crossing the line from an objective eye.” In those cases, players would be encouraged to solve the issue through communication or to resort to the blacklist.
That being said, Square Enix explains that “times have changed” and it now believes that it’s better for the community for the game masters to intervene in situations where a player is subjected to the abusive behavior of another player,” as opposed to “worrying about inhibiting communication between players.”
This means that after spending a long time reviewing the potential impact of policy changes, SE is made major changes to its policies in order to “clamp down on abusive behavior .”
Game Masters will continue to provide “an objective eye” on conflicts, but will now take a more proactive approach, striving “to protect players who are considerate towards others and provide a high-quality service in which players can play in a more comfortable and safe environment.”
Penalties have also been updated in order to deal with each situation with appropriate action depending on its severity.
The “Harassment” section of the policies has been considerably expanded, including the following.
- Discriminatory expressions based on race/nationality/thinking/gender/sexual orientation/gender identity
- Discriminatory expressions about a state/religion/occupation/organisation, etc.
- Obscene/indecent expressions
- Actions that inflict emotional distress using content related to historical events or crimes
- Disclosing or indicating personal information such as contact details with the aim of meeting up in the real world
- Disclosing or indicating another person’s real world personal information without permission
- Other actions that are generally regarded as actions that inflict deep emotional distress on another person
In addition to that, including a “phrase equating to harassment” in your character name is also considered harassment.
The new policy also specifies that those cases may warrant a penalty “equal to or higher than Temporary Service Account Suspension.”
A new section has been added to counter “Nuisance Behavior” which is defined as “speech or behavior that hurts others or obstructs game play, but which is not classified as harassment.”
Undisclosed penalties may be applied even if the nuisance is unintentional is the game masters believe that another person was hurt or obstructed.
This includes “offensive expressions” that “inflict emotional distress by being offensive to another person.”
Here is a list:
- Aggressive expressions such as violent language/slander/insult/threat.
- Expressions that provoke or belittle another person, such as excessive criticism, negation/ridicule
- Expressions that significantly lack consideration for another person
- Expressions that unilaterally reject another person’s opinion
- Expressions that any reasonable person would find offensive
- Expressions that compel a playing style
- Expressions that attempt to unilaterally exclude someone from the game or content/community, etc. (Except when in accordance with rules set by an administrator such as a Free Company Master)
- Expressions that contravene public order and morals
- Other expressions that are offensive to another person
Another new section includes “obstruction of play” which incorporates some elements that were already present and adds new ones. It spans “all behavior in general that obstruct another person’s game play.”
- Spamming: This means using chat (including Quick Chat and Emote) to obstruct another person’s conversation, or obstruct the use of mog letters, etc., for example, by sending an excessive number of unnecessary items in mog letters, etc. Even if obstruction was not the objective of the behavior, it may be deemed a violation if another player is actually obstructed by the behavior.
- Obstructing transit/progress: This means obstructive behavior such as group blocking of passages or facilities along which many players pass or obstructing another person’s game play progress, for example by overlapping an important NPC deliberately for a long time.
- Improper expulsion voting: This means excluding another person by manipulation of expulsion voting.
- Intentional leaving or disconnection: This means obstructing another person’s game play by intentionally leaving the game or disconnecting from the server.
- Other obstruction of play: This means all other behavior that deliberately obstructs another person’s game play by some means.
“Monster Player Kill” has also been added, explained as “MPK means the act of sending a monster towards another person so that they are knocked out, or obstructing another person’s game play.”
Further additions include all kinds of account sharing and loaning, misuse of flaws (which is basically taking advantage of bugs), ranking manipulation, and ignoring the instructions of a game master.
While light penalties including cautions and warnings are still in place, temporary account suspensions have been made more severe.
Previously, players could receive 24, 48, 72, or 216-hour suspensions. With the new policies, you’ll be out for at least three days. If you’re been naughtier of if you’re a repeat offender, you can get a ten-day suspension or a twenty-day suspension.
On top of this, days count down from 12:00 AM the following day, so you potentially get to sit on the bench several hours longer depending on when the penalty was issued.
Permanent Final Fantasy XIV service account terminations are still in place for severe violations or as a result of escalation for repeat offenders. Those remain pretty much unchanged, and won’t be reversed “under any circumstances.”
That being said, while the previous policy mentioned that refunds would not be issued, the new one mentions the possibility “in exceptional circumstances.”
If you want to see more about Final Fantasy XIV’s upcoming expansion Shadowbringers, you can check out the official trailer and Gunbreaker job, and the reveal of the new areas, Viera race, YorHa raid, and more, some official screenshots and art pieces released after the keynote, and some fantastic new artwork.
The expansion will officially launch on July 2 for PS4 and PC.