Note: Sorry for the wait, everyone! I’ve been posting status updates on Tumblr in order to decrease clutter here. Long story short, I went to E3 2015 and got eaten by my internship. Now let’s get things back on track!
Square-Enix was not doing well during the PS3’s mid-life cycle. The ambitious mythos of Final Fantasy Fabula Nova Crystallis announced during the early years—when PS3 and Xbox 360 were truly the next generation—began to crumble almost immediately after the release of Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy Agito became Type-0, and then didn’t arrive on PSP for NA and EU at all. XIII ended up with two sequels and an overall mixed reception. Final Fantasy Versus XIII became Final Fantasy XV, changed directors and stories, and has yet to be released to this day.
Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 released in 2010, before the delayed development cycle was well on its way. It was the second Final Fantasy MMORPG of the series and underwent several different shifts before it officially launched for the PS3 and Windows (a 360-friendly version was rumored but never came to light). The world was large, the animations were fairly fluid, and it became immediately criticized for being buggy and in nowhere near out of beta. Staff changes were implemented by then-president Yoichi Wada almost immediately, and Naoki Yoshida was hired onto the team as the game’s main director and producer in December 2010. XIV 1.0 chugged along for another two years, with the PS3 release continually delayed from its original March 2011 date.
On October 14, 2011, Square-Enix announced it would be re-launching the game as Final Fantasy XIV 2.0. Yoshida began development changes and received community feedback during the remainder of 1.0, but most players weren’t even charged for their subscription. Free 30-day trials became indefinite, and billing for 1.0 didn’t start until January 6, 2012. The servers were shut down that November for preparations of the re-launch’s alpha test, but the damage at the time was immense. Bravely Default released a month prior in Japan, but foreign audiences wouldn’t see a localized release until December 2013. Kingdom Hearts was arguably the only franchise still bringing in consistent profit, although the multitude of titles across multiple consoles and the delay of Kingdom Hearts 3 (TBA) slowed any momentum the series had. The rise of other JRPG and various Western successes caught hold of the fans tired of waiting and reeled them away.
This could go on, but what mattered was that on November 11, 2012, the online world Square-Enix built ended, and they made sure it was televised.