Final Fantasy XIV limits you to 8 hours levelling a week - why that's a good thing

Square-Enix has taken the controversial decision to limit players' ability to level up in Final Fantasy XIV - by imposing an 8 hour a week time limit. This doesn't mean you have to stop playing the game after your eight hour Sunday stint until the next weekend - you can still play and converse with other players and complete quests as normal.

But it does mean you won't be able to play the game non-stop as soon as you get back from the midnight launch and hit the level cap before some people have even got the wrapping off. This is, in my view, a very good thing.

As the game's director, Nobuaki Komoto, explains: "First off, the main concept behind FFXIV is allowing those players with little time on their hands to play effectively, and game balance is based off of that. Furthermore, it is being designed to not give those with more time on their hands to play an unfair advantage."

This is bound to annoy hardcore MMO players. But to be honest, it only gives them a healthier way to enjoy the game. And if you want to spend all day every day playing the game, you still can (especially as the 8-hour limit reportedly only applies to one job, so you can switch jobs and level up a different one if you really want to feel like you're progressing). If anything, it will mean that experts' rate of growth when they are allowed to level up will be far greater than those annoying newbies who waste their allocated time doing stupid dances or (gasp) talking to other people.

Above: Everybody's going to be watching the clock when Final Fantasy XIV hits the servers

As for newer players, this system is going to be incredibly welcome. No longer will the best players be kings before you've even given your character a name. You'll be able to grow naturally with the rest of the online community - and everyone will have the chance to be one of the first to reach the level cap, even if they do have a full-time job and/or a life.

Limited levelling systems like this have actually been used before. A similar method was used to prevent people leaving their pet hamster (or whatever) to press the jump button in Oblivion for a couple of days. After you've levelled up a certain amount, the game demands you find a bed and sleep. This means you have to be actively involved in the game instead of cheating it or just grinding away without a break. It's arguably better for it... which of course doesn't excuse the godawful like-for-like system that the enemies enjoy at your expense.

Above: Oblivion's enemies level with you, which is rubbish. But the sleep-to-level mechanic itself is sound

In fact, the only thing that's slightly dubious about the FFXIV move is the subscription fee. You still have to pay it every month to play the game. This appears at first glance to be a cynical way to get people to pay for longer. There will undoubtedly be players out there who will see it as their duty as a Final Fantasy fan to reach the level cap, which means they'll play it as long as they have to. If that quest takes some 300 hours, that's nine months of subscription costs. Those same players will bemoan the new system, but I guarantee very few will be able to ignore their passion and boycott the game.

However, how many World of Warcraft players hit the level cap and then stop playing? It doesn't happen - most either continue at the highest level or start a new character. Either way, they're still paying the fee.

Good or bad, the result for Square-Enix is a business model that keeps bringing in the money over months and months, a community that keeps coming back every week to get the most out of their allocated eight hours, and just maybe the most successful console MMO ever as a result. And every Final Fantasy fan would love to see that.

At the end of the day, Squeenix wins, regular players win and noobs will be able to enjoy the game and get into MMOs. Only the hardest of hardcore fans will suffer. And, let's be honest, even they will still be able to play the game they love - they'll just have added incentive to make their limited levelling time count and race to be the first to get there despite the system. So surely everyone's a winner?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

26 Aug, 2010

Source: Kotaku


  • Pakesso - September 29, 2010 11:06 p.m.

    Here you go. Educate yourselves you fools. Understanding the Fatigue system.
  • Pakesso - September 29, 2010 11:04 p.m.

    It's entertaining to see the typical responses when NOT understanding something new. Those of you that have disagreed with this move have already waved the white flag. So much for progress. What many, if not most of you, fail to realize is that FFXIV is giving you a wide open canvas to do whatever you want to your class, providing you aren't bent on hitting the level cap and complaining about lack of content. Another point you're missing, is that once you hit your 8 hour cap on ONE class, you can switch to another class and level it. The benefit to this? Well, if you level only ONE class, you're stuck with what that class has to offer. While you may be satisfied with a simple rotation of skills, those that have embraced this new levelling system will outclass you by leaps and bounds. Not because they grinded to max level, but because they tried some of the other classes to see which skills will benefit their MAIN class. Is that simple enough? Create a tank, and mix and match healing skills and buffs so that you can customize yourself to any degree. Whereas in most MMO's, you're judged on your level, and gear. I get the feeling that in FFXIV, greatness will come in all sizes. And will not be obvious to the naked eye. You will be known for your online persona, not your uberness. I'm sorry, but regardless of how many hours I will putting into this game, it sounds good to me. "Level 20 Warrior LFP" "What other skills have you acquired?" "None. Just the Warriors" "You only play 8 hours a week?" "No, I just hate the new system" "We'll pass. Have fun soloing..."
  • Hatsumei - September 25, 2010 5:54 a.m.

    8 Hours a week? That's a big no IMO.. Sure, most people might consider it 'fair' to limit the more hardcore gamer to give the casual gamer a chance to catch up.. But, my big question is 'WHY'? If a casual gamer doesn't have the time to play the game.. Then don't play it, play something else. I think they should remove this asap.
  • Scoob - August 28, 2010 1:40 a.m.

    Rather than imposing how fast you can level up, they should just increase the level cap as the game ages. If I get into this game, say in December, and my friends are capped by then, I would very much like to catch up to them as quick as possible, rather than being held back.
  • Hayroon1 - August 28, 2010 12:07 a.m.

    I'm fine with the 8 hour limit, but subscribtion fees?!!! Sorry Squeenix you've just lost a customer
  • RiotAct - August 27, 2010 2:27 p.m.

    I play MMOs a hell of a lot more than 8 hours a week. Maybe I shouldn't, maybe its bad for me, but I am an adult and I enjoy playing. I was actually really looking forward to this game, but, they wont be getting my money. It isn't up to the developer or the publisher to try to decide what a "reasonable amount of game time" is per week, its up to the player. Ah, screw it. This will be pulled quickly after people realize just how limiting it is, or the game will fail. Either way, problem solved.
  • Darkshine34 - August 27, 2010 1:38 p.m.

    if the payment was like $5 a month, i would totally play it. but, the rumored $15 though, not all about that with the playtime limit.
  • FenrirKar - August 27, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    Interesting idea. Shame the game looks like shit.
  • jmcgrotty - August 27, 2010 8:06 a.m.

    Were you able to convince yourself of any of that, Justin? Didn't convince me.
  • BazyLastard - August 27, 2010 12:09 a.m.

    Xbox 360 FFXIV: Canceled PS3 FFXIV: Delayed 6 months Neither of those unplanned realities can be making the launch of FFXIV better financially for Square Enix. Perhaps this 8 hr limit *is* nothing more than an attempt to compensate financially for the lack of a console release at launch by trying to extend the subscription life of their PC players. I guess we'll know for sure if when the PS3 version launches they remove the 8 hr limit to allow PS3 subscribers to "catch up" to the original PC subscribers. Either way, thanks but no thanks FFXIV.
  • BazyLastard - August 26, 2010 11:52 p.m.

    Man how long til SWTOR comes out?
  • Phazon117 - August 26, 2010 11:23 p.m.

    I'd care if I had any interest in this game at all? Alas, you couldn't pay me to give optimism for this game. And before you yell bias, it's on PC as well, I just don't give a flying fuck about MMO's in general. Starcraft may be the exception.
  • Abriael - August 26, 2010 9:53 p.m.

    I'm sorry to say, but this article is based on nothing else than hearsay and misinformation. While the concepts expressed cam show some kind of value in general, they are based on a system that doesn't exist as described, at least not in Final Fantasy XIV. You're not limited to 8 hours, you're not limited to 10 hours. You're not limited to any kind of time. There's a system in place that doesn't allow the player to level THE SAME CLASS past a certain amount of consecutive experience. The system encourages the player to level two or more classes, and by doing so fatigue of the previous class recharges. There'S NO time limit of any sort. Basically it's entirely possible (and even easy) to level up for the whole week without stopping at all, as long as you juggle between two or more classes. Full explanation here: I would encourage the writer to check his facts before jumping the gun and spreading misinformation.
  • Tenfey - August 26, 2010 9:09 p.m.

    I'm ok with this.
  • JPorFavor - August 26, 2010 9:02 p.m.

    Alright, addiction free!
  • Silvermech - August 26, 2010 9:01 p.m.

    What's this about a subscription fee? Do you meen I can't buy the game so I can play it? Or I can buy the game, only I also have to pay a fee so I can play it?
  • AnonymouZ - August 26, 2010 8:11 p.m.

    it is not a good idea, regardless of how good it mite seem for those "who don't have a full time game-ing schedule" good thing to know that not only are char designs old and still flawed (if only updatedly flawed and shiny) now they don't really want you to enjoy your game? i lul at square now. loudly.
  • TheHonorableReverendHobo - August 26, 2010 8:01 p.m.

    I'm not really a big MMO-er, I played WoW for a bit and haven't touched it since before Wrath of the Lich King, but I have to disagree on this. Cutting people off from leveling, especially if you're paying a fee, is just wrong in my opinion. If those people want to spend all their time grinding to the level cap, then let them. It's their business and their time. And I understand the idea of doing this for the people who are just starting out, but holding back the grinders so they "don't get an unfair advantage" is akin to going to a battle of the bands where they cut one band's amp cords because they spent a lot more time practicing than the others.
  • n00b - August 26, 2010 7:55 p.m.

    Fuck you sqarenix this is the stupidest idea ever. what ever interest i had in the game is now gone though i've never played an mmo so my opinion is probably invalid
  • JakeyBaby - August 26, 2010 7:27 p.m.

    If leveling up includes the dying and waiting for a raise part, then count me out. I would like those 8 hours to feel well spent, if not then the enjoyment will sap out of this game very fast indeed. Other than that, Square does have a good idea. Seems like it's trying to turn the MMO market into a casual one. It's certainly possible. Look at Guild Wars, and even Facebook games. That playing a game without feeling tied in is great, but I have a feeling that subscription fee will deter people.

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