This is FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn producer and director Naoki Yoshida and I would like to take the time to personally apologize once again to all those players who have been affected by the extended World login and character creation restrictions which have been in place for the past several days. I also understand that apologies will not help you get logged in, so I would like to give you an update on the situation at hand and the various measures we are currently employing to alleviate the situation.
On the night following the announcement of our plans to temporarily limit sales of the download version, A Realm Reborn recorded upwards of 218,000 concurrent connections. This is in spite of the fact that the peak login times for separate regions around the world arrive at differing intervals. We estimate that without time zone differences, the total number of concurrent connections would number anywhere from 300,000 to 350,000.
As many of you know, this is the second launch for FINAL FANTASY XIV─something unprecedented in the MMORPG market. Considering the outcome of our first launch, our sales estimates for this one were decidedly conservative, as we believed that there would be a more gradual rise in users over the opening weeks and months.
Instead, to our pleasant surprise, we experienced tremendous support from a great number of players who were eager to get into the game from day one. To ensure that these players, once logged in, were able to play in a stable environment, we were required to implement login restrictions which kept server population near maximum capacity without exceeding those numbers.
The fact that we had to implement these restrictions is a direct result of my inaccurate sales and login estimates, and as producer, I must accept complete responsibility for this misstep. Each and every player who has been affected has my deepest apologies.
The Reasoning behind Login Restrictions
Each FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn World server has been designed to support a maximum of 5,000 concurrent connections. This is not the maximum number of characters which can be created on a World, however, but the maximum number of characters which can be logged into that World simultaneously. When more than 5,000 characters log into a World at once, there is a higher risk of server crashes and login errors. The restoration of crashed servers is usually followed by a rush of players attempting to log back in, which, in turn, puts a strain on our lobby server, and can ultimately have an adverse affect on all of the Worlds.
To prevent this from happening, we felt that the safest course of action would be to limit logins. However, we would like you to know that the restrictions are under constant surveillance. We are currently monitoring login numbers on all Worlds 24 hours a day, and actively removing/applying restrictions as soon as we detect even the smallest fluctuation in concurrent connection numbers.
Currently, peak login times for each region are occurring from approximately 9:00 p.m. to midnight. During this three-hour window, Worlds are more likely to have login restrictions implemented. These temporary restrictions are expected to continue until the time that we can execute the measures we have planned to alleviate the current situation. Those measures, including the addition of new World servers, are listed, in detail, below.
Character Creation Restrictions
As stated above, the maximum number of simultaneous connections each World server can handle is 5,000, while the number of characters which can be created on a World is several times that amount. This estimate of 5,000, however, is based on those characters being somewhat distributed over all the in-game areas (zones).
At the game’s start, however, while everyone is still at a low level, the majority of players are concentrated in the three city-states and surrounding areas. This can not only lead to a lack of enemies to slay (preventing quest progression), but also see area servers overloaded, and ultimately lead to crashes.
Fortunately, differences in total individual play time, login times, and character/class progression will eventually lead to players being more spread out within each World. Once this happens, there will be less need for both login and character creation restrictions.
As is the case with logins, our team is working around the clock, monitoring the current population of each area in each World, as well as the class level of each character, and adjusting new character creation restrictions based on their findings. Unlike login restrictions, we believe that character creation restrictions may take slightly longer to be removed, as there are still great discrepancies in the distribution of characters across Worlds, and we thank players for their patience and understanding in this issue.
Adding Worlds and Alleviating Server Load Issues
A server is essentially a high-spec PC, with each FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn World being made up of several of these machines. Creating a new World involves physically acquiring the servers, installing the necessary programs, and conducting internal functionality tests...all before opening the World to the public.
As the login data gathered from the Open Beta test (in which anyone, including those who had not purchased the game, could participate) was inconclusive, it was during the Early Access period that we had a clearer picture of the scope with which we would need to increase World capacity, and on the 25th of August began making preparations to do so significantly.
As of this post, the servers have been acquired, the essential programs installed, and we are currently in the process of conducting our internal tests. Once these tests have concluded and the Worlds go live, we believe we will be able to better accommodate a greater number of our players, making logging in less of a hassle.
In addition to increasing the number of Worlds, we are also optimizing the Duty Finder (party matching) management servers in an effort to reduce server load and ensure better stability when using this feature.
Currently, the Duty Finder servers split our data centers into two groups of 25 Worlds, and then do the party matching from players from within the same data center. We have determined that by adding new Worlds, the Duty Finder servers will not be able to process the additional data as long as there are only two pairings of groups to match from. Therefore, we have decided to create additional groups to alleviate this problem before it occurs, and by doing so, reduce the burden on the Duty Finder servers, and ultimately allow more players to access the feature.
The development and operations teams are currently concentrating 100% of their efforts into the aforementioned tasks and are on pace to have both completed by the beginning of next week and then released to the public once our final tests have concluded. Once a date and time for the implementation of the measures have been solidified, we will release another announcement on Lodestone outlining the details. We ask that you bear with us for just a few days longer while we make the final push.
Resolving AFK Character Issues
From several users on some of our more congested Worlds, we have received requests for a feature which automatically logs out characters who are AFK for an extended period of time. We are actively looking into the implementation of such a feature, but have decided to first concentrate our efforts on increasing the number of Worlds and optimizing the Duty Finder servers.
The development and operations teams are working diligently to combat the login issues which many of our users are currently facing, and ask for your continued patience and understanding over the next several days as we move to solve these problems.
To thank all of you for bearing with us for so long, we will be looking into different ways to reward our loyal fans and customers, such as an extension of the free trial period. Details on the plans we have in the works will be announced shortly.
In conclusion, I would like to say that we have been overwhelmed with the positive response for A realm Reborn, which is why it doubly pains us to implement any sort of measure that may restrict people from joining us in Eorzea. We sincerely apologize for the unwanted stress these restrictions have caused, and thank you immensely for the understanding you have shown over the past week. The fixes are almost in place and we look forward to seeing all of you very, very soon.
FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn Producer & Director Naoki Yoshida