Final Fantasy XIV
|Name:||Final Fantasy XIV (ファイナルファンタジーXIV)|
|Date(s):||September 22, 2010 (Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 release)|
August 27, 2013 (A Realm Reborn release)
|Medium:||PC, PS3 (formerly), PS4, PS5, OS X|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|External Links:||Official Website|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG and the fourteenth numbered game in the Final Fantasy series. It was originally released under the name of Final Fantasy XIV Online in 2010, but garnered such negative reception that Square Enix eventually shut it down and reworked it into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in 2013. The original version, also frequently referred to as Final Fantasy XIV 1.0, is now inaccessible.
Despite the game's rough start, the reboot succeeded in attracting a solid playerbase which further increased as expansions were released. With the release of the Shadowbringers expansion the game's popularity surged, marking a notable increase of both ingame player populations and fan activity outside of the game. Today, the game continues to be updated with new expansions every two years with major updates every few months between that, and is host to a thriving, multifaceted fandom that engages in a vast variety of fan activities both conventional and unconventional.
Final Fantasy XIV currently consists of the following:
- A Realm Reborn, the version of the game released after Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 shut down (2013)
- Heavensward, the first expansion which now comes bundled in with A Realm Reborn (2015)
- Stormblood (2017)
- Shadowbringers (2019)
- Endwalker (2021)
Each expansion also has several follow-up patches which introduce additional main scenario content to tie up loose ends of the expansion story, as well as set up for the next expansion. They also add various side story content to the game. Additionally, short stories detailing things that weren't shown within the game are released on the official website every year. There is a free trial that includes A Realm Reborn and Heavensward in full.
Central to the game's story is the custom player character, referred to as Warrior of Light both within the game and in fandom, which frequently shortens the term to WoL. The Warrior of Light is a member of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, an organisation concerned with defending the world of Hydaelyn from harm, and faces off against threats such as primals (deity-like entities stripping the land of its aether), the encroaching Garlean Empire and an enigmatic group of people known as the Ascians who strive to cause large-scale calamities devastating the world.
To date, two lorebooks referred to as Encyclopedia Eorzea Volume 1 and 2 have been released, containing a wealth of lore to complement what was revealed within the game itself. Furthermore, the game has spawned a spinoff manga called Final Fantasy XIV: Shiritsu Eorzea Gakuen, though it is currently only available in Japanese.
As an active MMORPG, many fan activities take place within the game itself. Dressing up one's characters is a huge part of the game, to the point where there's a common saying of "glamour is the true endgame". The game has a feature to change gear appearance while leaving stats intact, and assembling outfits from the wide variety of gear pieces is a near universal pastime. There are also archive websites solely to showcase glamours.
Housing, equally, is a big part of the fandom, though due to the scarcity of housing plots available many are unable to fully participate in it. The standard options available already offer a lot of customisability of ingame housing, and by shoving furniture into each other to make them look like new furniture pieces and employing a glitch to make furniture float one can expand even further on what's available. The resulting custom houses, which arguably qualify as fanworks of their own, are commonly posted in dedicated twitter hashtags or on housing archive websites.
The ingame photomode, called gpose, heavily intersects with both of these pursuits. Offering enhanced camera options, custom lighting and a variety of filters, gpose has the capacity to emulate real life photoshoots and many use this mode to create artworks out of ingame assets. Gpose communities are all over the internet, with dedicated discord servers, instagram communities, twitter hashtags and more. There are also official contests for gpose screenshots from time to time.
Unofficial mods offer even further options for all of the above. Mods may take the form of texture upscaling, new outfits and hairstyles, additional custom options such as fangs or claws, character body modifications, new furniture or even custom third party software offering even more flexibility with posing and gpose. Nude mods are also readily available, but controversial due to the potential of taking nude screenshots of other characters whose players did not consent to it.
Art parties are another popular ingame fan activity. Players will gather in a designated location within the game, commonly the organising player's housing estate but sometimes also in other areas, and socialise while drawing each other's characters, the landscape, or other motifs. The resulting artworks are commonly posted in a dedicated twitter hashtag.
Roleplaying takes place both within the game and outside of it. For ingame roleplaying activities, there are many venues set up in player housing made to look like cafés, fight clubs or similar places. Other RP groups will organise themed events in suitable locations, such as holding a market RP event in a marketplace. Roleplay then occurs through the ingame chat and the use of ingame gestures and emotes. Erotic roleplay happens as well, and there are also brothel RP venues. This has recently been clarified to be permitted, but must be held outside of common places and must not involve any nonconsenting players.
Outside of activities that map easily to standard fandom content creating activities, there are also thriving communities for raiding (clearing the game's more challenging content) as well as other gaming-focused activities such as achievement hunting or collection completing for mounts etc. Many of these activities have active discords to organise and find groups with. The Balance is an example of one such community.
Finally, being an active MMORPG, ingame events perhaps best described as flashmobs frequently take place. Players may line their characters up for spontaneous dance parades, gather en masse to celebrate a texture bug or hold ingame memorials, for example following the passing of Berserk creator Kentaro Miura.
Outside of the game
Outside of the game, the Final Fantasy XIV fandom of course features the classic fan activities of creating fanart, fanfiction and cosplay. As the fandom rose to prominence at a time when centralised fandom communities had largely been replaced with discord and social media, it's difficult to gauge the popularity and themes in fanart and cosplay. Fanfiction, however, is clearly at home on AO3 rather than other fanfiction sites. As of November 2021, the Final Fantasy XIV fandom on AO3 has 17k+ fics, whereas the fandom on ffnet only has around 600. In terms of fanfiction, the annual FFXIVwrite event is of particular note: Every year in September, the event runner (sea-wolf-coast-to-coast, also known as Moen) posts a daily prompt for which participants should write a fill on the same day. The event is hugely popular in the fandom. As of the 2020 round, over 20000 entries have been written.
Roleplaying happens outside of the game as well, usually in the form of plaintext roleplay. Many RPers have carrds containing information on the character(s), their relationships and details on what the RPer is willing to play etc.
There is an unspoken rule within the fandom not to post spoilers about new content in plain for two weeks after release. On twitter, many fans use rot13 to scramble the letters and then reassemble the original messages of others if they want to read it.
While official Final Fantasy XIV merchandise is relatively scarce, there is a vast amount of fan merch of all stripes. Of particular note are job stones, an important ingame item category that's used to change jobs. Merch creators make models of them out of resin or other materials in a variety of designs or even offer custom job stone designs. They're a very popular collectible in the fandom. Many creators sell theirs on etsy or similar sites.
Furthermore, there is a vibrant community of content creators providing strategy guides for ingame content. They frequently take the form of videos, as the format makes it easier to demonstrate the necessary movement and spacing for strategies to work, but text- and image-based guides exist aplenty as well. These guides could arguably be considered a form of meta: Taking an aspect of canon (in this case, ingame raids) and positing theories on it (which strategies work best/most reliably).
Finally, there are official conventions known as Fan Festivals or fanfests every other year, during which official information on upcoming content is revealed and many fan activities such as cosplay contents or special ingame challenges take place. Normally, there are three fanfests per cycle, one each in Japan, North America and Europe. In 2021 the Covid-19 pandemic forced the developers to consolidate them into one single digital fanfest, however.
In a 2020 NHK poll, Final Fantasy XIV was voted the 5th most popular Final Fantasy game. It was the 16th most popular video game in Tumblr Fandometrics' Year in Review 2019 and the 17th most popular video game in Tumblr Fandometrics' Year in Review 2020. At the 2021 Golden Joystick awards, Final Fantasy XIV won in the categories for Best Community and Still Playing. In 2022, Final Fantasy XIV once again won the Best Game Community award at the Golden Joystick Awards.
Following the release of the Shadowbringers expansion on June 28, 2019, the fandom experienced massive growth relative to its prior size. This also manifested in fanfiction posting on AO3 ramping up. Player counts surged as well.
Number of FFXIV fics that were posted or updated on AO3 from 23 March 2011 to mid-2021.
Number of FFXIV fics that were posted or updated on AO3 from 23 June 2015 to 28 June 2021.
After widespread disappointment among the World of Warcraft playerbase about the recent updates in 2021 a large scale migration began, in which many WoW players tried out Final Fantasy XIV. The influx of new players was so massive that the Square Enix online shop briefly ran out of digital game keys in July 2021.
The migration caused some tension between the established playerbase and the newcomers, as the two games have different cultures which don't always mesh well.
Also in 2021, it was reported that Final Fantasy XIV had reached 24 million registered players and had become the most profitable game in the entire Final Fantasy franchise.
With the release of the Endwalker expansion on December 3rd 2021, the game experienced record numbers of simultaneous logins, leading to extremely long login queues and impeding players' ability to play the game. The issues were so severe that sales for the game and creation of new trial accounts were temporarily suspended until activity died down.
In the fanart and/or fanfiction subsets of the Final Fantasy XIV fandom, shipping is a very dominant force, especially with regards to fanfiction. Shipping predominantly features the player character with one or more NPCs, also known as WoL-ships/WoL-shipping. NPC/NPC shipping happens as well, but is considerably less common. Along with WoL-shipping, Reader-Inserts are very popular. Pairing Names tend to stick to the X/Y format or portmanteaus, rather than special shipnames.
Following the release of Shadowbringers in 2019, the characters Emet-Selch and G'raha Tia, who feature prominently in the expansion, rapidly rose in popularity, with their ships with the Warrior of Light quickly becoming the most written ships on AO3 and overtaking favourites from older expansions.
Popular WoL/NPC ships include:
- Haurchefant Greystone/Warrior of Light
- Aymeric de Borel/Warrior of Light
- Estinien Wyrmblood/Warrior of Light
- Zenos yae Galvus/Warrior of Light
- Emet-Selch/Warrior of Light
- G'raha Tia/Warrior of Light
Popular NPC/NPC ships include:
- Aymeric de Borel/Estinien Wyrmblood
- Cid nan Garlond/Nero tol Scaeva
- Urianger Augurelt/Thancred Waters
There are a number of memes that permeate the fandom, some of which have become famous enough to garner attention by the development team.
- Such Devastation: The Praetorium, an instanced 8 player duty in the game, features many unskippable cutscenes. As this duty is a good source of currency and experience points, many players queue up for it often. As a result, the phrase "Such devastation! This was not my intention.", uttered by Gaius van Baelsar in one such cutscene, has become an often repeated meme, spawning many parodies where the word "devastation" is replaced with a different word that ends in -ation. One example of such a parody is Lush Vegetation by Pink_Lunch_Box.
- The Free Trial Ad: Following the expansion of the free trial, a copypasta advertising it quickly rose in prominence. It became a running joke that Final Fantasy XIV players would take every opportunity to shill for the trial, to the point where some fans even created merchandise with the meme and the official twitter used it on their own advertisement tweets.
Have you heard of the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV? With an expanded free trial which you can play through the entirety of A Realm Reborn and the award winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 for free with no restrictions on playtime.
- La Hee: After the release of Shadowbringers, a particular song playing in one of the new areas became the subject of a meme. The song features gibberish lyrics, with the opening words sounding like "la hee". This quickly became something players would quote for fun and rose to such prominence that Masayoshi Soken, the game's main soundtrack composer, delivered an otamatone and vocals cover of the song, preempted with the words "Do you know 'la hee'?" at the 2021 Fan Festival.
- The Twinning Dance: Also released in Shadowbringers, the background music of the Twinning dungeon quickly gained recognition for being unusual among other dungeon themes and being very well made. This prompted a fan to make a video with footage from the dungeon overlaid with dancing people. Others picked up the format and made similar jokes about the theme. The idea garnered enough attention that the dance was enacted over a live concert by The Primals by several developers at the 2021 Fan Festival.
- A point of contention within the fandom is shipping the characters Alphinaud and Alisaie Leveilleur. Introduced in A Realm Reborn, they were canonically 15 at the time. The flow of time within the game is deliberately unclear, with only vague hints at best as to how much time passes in each expansion, so how old exactly they are in later parts of canon is also not clear. Some parts of the fandom see these two characters as underage and take offense to them being shipped with adult characters. This has led to cases of harassment towards fans who do so, even those who see them as 18+ in later expansions. In one notable case, players whose characters shared a last name with the twins were accused of being pedophiles at an art party, with the organisers of the party being dragged into the controversy on twitter, though regular players have no means to remove anyone else from any given location in the game, nor bar them entry. The characters Ryne and Elidibus have also been involved in similar controversies, though on a smaller scale.
- Many fans feel that Final Fantasy XIV has an unpleasant habit of pointlessly killing off female characters. Examples of this are Ysayle Dangoulain, Moenbryda Wilfsunwyn and Misija Votyasch. The writing team has at times been accused of fridging women for that reason.
- The development team has been accused of whitewashing characters. The most prominent example fans cite is Y'shtola Rhul, whose skin colour has grown lighter over the expansions. The characters Alphinaud Leveilleur, Alisaie Leveilleur and Lyse Hext also come up in this context. While none of them had a skin colour change, they are all light-skinned characters whose parents and grandparents have much darker skin than them.
- Some fans take exception to other fans liking characters from the Garlean Empire and/or the Ascians. Both groups are comprised of villains responsible for in-universe atrocities. The Garlean Empire has a history of in-universe fantasy racism and has been likened to real life racism/fascism, while the Ascians are responsible for devastating catastrophes within canon (and, as it were, founded the empire itself in service of that). The aforementioned fans consider liking characters affiliated with the empire to mean liking fascism itself. Naturally, this is an idea that gets heavy pushback, both from a "fiction isn't reality" perspective and from the perspective that this equation trivialises real life bigotry.
- In-game housing: [MMO spat] A Decorating Community Divided by fmoopp, [Final Fantasy XIV] Rich guild hoards player housing; their leader desperately tries to defend themselves for it by yuyevons, [MMORPGs] Final Fantasy XIV: Roleplayers, in-game housing, Twitter outrage, and the "sex dungeon" neighborhood that wasn't by kirandra
- [Final Fantasy 14] The 2B butt controversy - when fans flipped out about butts getting smaller by arcane_in_a_box
- A Moment in Time by Chamomile, the oldest fic in the Final Fantasy XIV fandom tag, posted two months before A Realm Reborn's release.
- "FFXIV - First Brood's Song" by ArsDaemonum
- "FFXIV" by jennygin2
- "The FFXIV Jobs, but they're bugs in Hollow Knight" by SilverSkeejee
- "#FF14EW_CD #FF14暁月カウントダウン" by kuroimori_twee
- 「 希望の園エデン 共鳴編4 」 by megunozi
- "Final Fantasy XIV - Tsukuyomi" by _aengdohwa
- The Elder Primals - Neath Dark Waters by Cassius Toledo
- Boyish Crafter by Bright Dancer
- Shadow Mage by Liviana Erdene
- Cold Streets by Ien Torr
- Happy Accidents by Nico Kestral
- "個室を改装しました" by kito_w_f
- "Fae Garden" by NemihShozu
- "final farewells" by zimpo_gaming
- "Comfy golden hour in Lower La Noscea." by AestMirra
- "What’s the point of learning a skill if you can’t use that skill to recreate a niche meme tweet" by gingerybiscuit, based on this twitter meme by regretorb
- "Dulia-Chai VS. Fourchenault" by Nova Fun Bun
- "Sending these shinies on their way home!" by MiNah_creates
- EDEN'S GATE: SEPULTURE (SAVAGE) RAID GUIDE - E4S by MTQcapture
Challenges, Events and Exchanges
- Final Fantasy XIV fanworks on AO3
- Final Fantasy XIV fanfiction on FFN
- Glamour Collection of players showcasing their ingame outfits
- Housing Snap, a website showcasing ingame player housing
- Aetherflow Media, a digital media platform with a strong focus on Final Fantasy XIV and its community
- Final Fantasy XIV at consolegameswiki
- Final Fantasy XIV at fandom wiki
- Final Fantasy XIV at gamerescape
- Garland Tools, a comprehensive database for the game
- Official Side Story Collections on the official website
- XIVArtParties on twitter, a fan-run advertisement twitter for art parties
- ^ twitter.com. An example of combining furniture by Asaka_FF14. 2021.
- ^ thegamer.com. Final Fantasy 14: How To Float Housing Items. 2021.
- ^ novacrystallis.com. smooth rock. 2020.
- ^ pcgamesn.com. FFXIV players are gathering to pay respects to Berserk creator Kentaro Miura. 2020.
- ^ ffxiv-write.carrd.co. Recap of Previous Years.
- ^ finalfantasyxiv.com. Important Announcement Regarding the European Fan Festival. 2021.
- ^ NHK. FF Ranking. 2020.
- ^ r/FinalFantasy. "I translated the NHK Final Fantasy poll character rankings." by u/TheMomAbides. 2020.
- ^ gamesradar.com. Final Fantasy 14 wins Best Community at the Golden Joystick Awards 2021. 2021.
- ^ gamesradar.com. Final Fantasy 14 scoops another Golden Joystick for the Still Playing award. 2021.
- ^ twitter.com. It's official - Final Fantasy XIV has the Best Game Community. 2022.
- ^ a b c twitter.com. "I made graphs showing the fic posting patterns by date in the Final Fantasy XIV fandom on ao3" by @ZenosCollector. 2021.
- ^ nme.com. "'Final Fantasy XIV’ digital copies “sold out” after surge in popularity". 2021.
- ^ screenrant.com. "FFXIV Is Most Profitable Final Fantasy Game After Historic Comeback". 2021.
- ^ finalfantasyxiv.com. "Response to Congestion (as of Dec. 16)". 2021.
- ^ @FFXIV_EN. Have you tried the expanded Free Trial of our critically acclaimed MMORPG #FFXIV?. 2021.
- ^ knowyourmeme.com. The Critically Acclaimed MMORPG. 2021.
- ^ youtube.com. Masayoshi Soken - LAHEE. 2021.
- ^ youtube.com. twinning.mp4. 2019.
- ^ youtube.com. FFXIV Fan Fest 2021 - "A Long Fall" (The Twinning) Meme Dance by "The Primals". 2021.
- ^ @exselch_zine, Archived version on Twitter
- ^ @ffcreatorsguild, Archived version on Twitter
- ^ @FFXIVTravelZine, Archived version on Twitter
- ^ flowxivzine, Archived version on Carrd