Publisher Square Enix has announced that PS2 and Xbox 360 servers for Final Fantasy XI are due to be shut down.
Thankfully, the closure of the long-running MMORPG’s PS2 and Xbox 360 servers won’t happen until March 2016 – so players still have some time left to resolve any unfinished business in Vana’diel. PC players will be unaffected by the shutdown, as the publisher intends to continue supporting the game – which is now an astonishing 12 years old.
“We plan for this to be a grand conclusion to the Final Fantasy series’ first MMORPG,” Square Enix said in a press stament released today, “and indeed, the first console MMORPG, in a way that will be recorded in the annals of the genre’s history.”
Final Fantasy XI was a departure for Square Enix: the first time that its long-running series had ventured into the world of online gaming. Its success has seen it go the distance, however – as of 2009, it’s the most financially successful game in the series’ long history, and has so far received 11 expansions, both major and minor. The most recent expansion came out just last year: Seekers of Adoulin added the Rune Fencer and Geomancer classes, a new continent to explore, and plenty of new quests and bosses. It also holds the distinction of being the very last commercial game to be released on Sony’s PlayStation 2 console in the Asian market.
The cessation of support for Final Fantasy XI isn’t entirely unexpected, however; Square Enix is shifting its focus towards Final Fantasy XIV ahead of that game’s first expansion, Heavensward, in June. The publisher has also just released a high-definition update of Final Fantasy: Type 0, which had previously only been available in Japan for PSP. And, of course, gamers have Final Fantasy XV to look forward to, which is currently still on course for a late 2015 release on PS4 and Xbox One.
Square Enix isn’t letting the passing of Final Fantasy XI go with a whimper, however: as a gesture of thanks to the console gamers who helped to make the game a success, the publisher will be holding a special in-game event to mark the occasion. The Goddess’s Gaia event is described as “a series of various campaigns that have been held previously to great acclaim and can be enjoyed by both regular players and returnees alike”, which sounds as though it will be a re-run of classic moments from the game’s long history.
As one door closes, another opens: Square Enix has announced that a Mobile version of Final Fantasy XI is in the works. The mobile version is being developed in conjunction with Nexon Korea, and will be made available in Asia, North America and parts of Europe at some point in 2016. Being on a mobile platform, the game will see some changes to its UI in order to accommodate touchscreen devices: combat, party organization and general movement will all be tweaked for users on the move.
Final Fantasy XI may be over a decade old now – making it one of the longest-running MMOs in existence – but its popularity means that it’s likely to be a long time before Square Enix closes the book on it. Final Fantasy XIV may be all the rage (at least, since its resurrection with A Realm Reborn), but XI remains immensely popular.