After 20 years, Final Fantasy 11 is heading into maintenance mode
Happy 20th Vana’versary, kupos
Long before Final Fantasy 14 swept over the MMO landscape, there was 2002's Final Fantasy 11 Online. I wasn’t really away that Final Fantasy 11 was still running, but the MMO has been chugging along quietly for a few years - its last expansion having arrived in 2013. After 20 years of support, however, Square Enix is putting Final Fantasy 11 in maintenance mode, meaning servers will stay up and it’ll remain playable, but with limited support.
Along with downscaling, the FFXI team is shuffling around, too, as Yoji Fujito is replacing Akijiko Matsui as lead producer. Since Matsui has had the role since 2012, he left behind a warm letter to the community and dev team on the Play Online website. “My heart is filled with gratitude for all of you, the protagonists whose various journeys wove together the world of Vana'diel,” Matsui said.
Fujito added some context for why the game’s entering retirement and what the future holds, post the 20th Vana’versary. Fujito said the decision was made with the team in mind as remaining on the FFXI team would mean “giving up certain opportunities in their careers as developers.” Instead, many of those devs will move over to other Squeenix projects to see “the fruits of their labour take form in new products.”
The remaining team will focus on more compact updates for the rest of 2023, including Ambuscade updates, prime weapon reforging, and master trials. They’ll also be replacing the backend hardware that supports the MMO “to ensure long-term stability of operations.” Although, this will likely cause some longer maintenance.
There are some allusions to the game’s long, long, future. Nothing was confirmed, but I’d be curious to see if Squeenix would ever make an offline version of FF11. The company developed an offline version of Dragon Quest 10 - another MMORPG based on their classic series - and while it’s drastically different, at least the experience is somewhat preserved. Every mainline Final Fantasy is currently playable in some form, so it would be a shame to see Final Fantasy 11 lost to the ether.
Final Fantasy 11 first released in 2002 for PC and PS2, before getting an Xbox 360 port later, which is where I (briefly) tried it. I was already a minor FF fan - and a minor - so my prepubescent brain was quite literally shaking in disbelief. Seriously, I just didn’t understand what an online was. How are other people in my game?
You can still grab Final Fantasy 11 on Steam or the official website, although it does require a monthly fee as well. Otherwise, you can just check out Final Fantasy 14 for the modern FF multiplayer experience. Also, I recently found out that you could, back in the day, play Final Fantasy 9’s deckbuilding mini-game online via the Play Online website. How cool is that?