Square Enix, You Are Bad At This
I’ve been, like, 99% MMO clean for a few months now.
It feels pretty good! I’ve cleared a ton of single player games, done some house projects, and generally reveled in all the free time you have when you’re not scrambling to get that next level or rare drop.
But, I have a friend at work who’s been trying to talk me into Final Fantasy XIV, and apparently they have some sort of recruitment thing going on. So, I had an email drop into my inbox with a code to put in… somewhere… that would signify that I was starting this game on his recommendation and, presumably, give us both virtual items.
He also said that I could make my very own catgirl, and I’m always up for adding another catgirl to the stable.
That sounded weird. Let’s move on.
So I decided to give it a try, and I looked at the email again, and this is where I started to get very confused. There were several links in the email, and I clicked them all in turn, but none of them lead me to any site where I could download the free trial version of the software. There was a link to Square Enix account management, and I clicked on that, and it loaded up my account, and there were links there to buy the thing, but nothing on getting the trial.
So, I went on to Google and found the 14-day free trial client, and downloaded that, and it took me to a sign-in page, and I signed in with my Square Enix account, and it told me that I needed to purchase the game client before playing, as I’d participated in the FFXIV beta program and was not eligible for a free trial.
Fine, I said, I will make a new account.
I tried signing in with that new account, and was likewise rebuffed. There’s no way to create a trial account via the Square Enix account page, it MUST be done from the trial client, and the trial client wasn’t letting me do it.
Some extra web searches lead me to a thread on the steam forums that explained that the trial client will only let you make an account if FFXIV has never been run on the computer, so I uninstalled the trial client, and I deleted the FFXIV folder from Document\My Games, and I ran it AGAIN and it finally gave me the option to make a trial account.
And I logged in, and made a catgirl with a giant axe.
By this point, with all the hassles I’d had getting the software installed and a trial account created, and then getting the client patched up, I’d spent about five hours on FFXIV and was looking forward to logging in and hitting some things with the giant axe.
There was only one problem. See, obviously I’d want to play on the same server as my friend and…
I looked this up. Apparently if a server is full, you need to wait for it to calm down a bit before logging in. The server he plays on is an Oceanic server, so prime time there is Japan time.
It was roughly 11 PM Saturday, Pacific time, which translates to 3 PM Japan time on Sunday. Obviously tons of people would be playing.
I saved my character’s appearance, logged off, and figured I would try again when the server had calmed down.
I started trying to get on at 3:30 on Monday morning Japan time, and kept trying until 7:30 AM Japan time. The server is theoretically as dead as it’s ever going to be, and it’s still locked to new characters. The only way to join my friend, as far as I can tell, is to buy the game client, buy a month’s subscription time, play for three days on whatever server WILL allow characters, and then spend $18 on a server transfer…
…and Square even says, on their server transfer page, that if the server I am asking to transfer to is too busy, they reserve the right to move me to a different server than the one requested, without a refund.
So, I’m really not sure what the point of the recruit a friend program is. I guess it’s “recruit your friends who are willing to buy the game sight unseen and are comfortable with the notion that they may never get to play together” ?
Follow up: I decided to give it one final try before uninstalling the thing, and actually managed to make a character on the appropriate server at about 8:30AM Japan time. So, that only took five hours of trying.