Hello, this is Naoki Yoshida, Producer and Director of FINAL FANTASY XIV.
With the release of Patch 6.11 and Dragonsong’s Reprise (Ultimate), we’ve heard concerns from players about the use of third-party tools and the potential for game server emulation. I’ve touched on these topics previously in LIVE Letters, but I would like to take this opportunity to formally address them.
Please note this will be a lengthy post containing difficult technical terminology, and may not be of interest to the average player. Moreover, this announcement is meant to be read in its entirety, so I ask that you please refrain from sharing excerpts of this text out of context.
Use of Third Party Tools
As stated in the terms of service for FINAL FANTASY XIV: the use of third-party tools is strictly prohibited. Players who are determined to be using third-party tools will have their accounts suspended, or permanently banned for repeat offenses.
Defining Third Party Tools
We have received requests from players asking that we define what tools are and aren’t permissible, but to do so would require an assessment of all third-party tools available on the internet, as well as all gaming devices and their functionality. Unfortunately, such an undertaking is physically impossible, which is why we decided to simply prohibit the use of all third-party tools and software.
By the same token, it is impossible for us to check what programs are installed on every player’s PC. This is why we cannot identify and reprimand offenders 100% of the time. To offer more clarity on our process, here are a few examples of the rule violations we prioritize for investigation:
- Use of tools that allow players to more easily complete content.
- Modification of the UI to display additional information.*
- Use of packet spoofing tools.
- Any actions or public statements that promote use of third-party tools.
All reports of such activity warrant investigation, and accounts determined to be in violation of the game’s terms of service will be suspended or banned. Unless there is a significant change to the terms of service─which would be publicly announced─this rule remains as-is.
Hacks, Mods, and Risk of Infection from Malicious Software
Hacks are alterations of a program that can allow for otherwise impossible things to happen. For FFXIV, which relies on server-client communication, hacking is much more difficult than in other online games. Moreover, our security measures are being improved upon constantly, and we will continue to bolster them in the future. Supplementary tools known as “mods,” however, can do a number of things, such as display additional information sent by the FFXIV servers on screen, or send false packet information to change the location of characters. In the case of the latter, we have systems in place to automatically check and inspect system logs, allowing us to immediately take action against cheaters when discovered.
In short, the use of such tools will not allow players to automatically clear high-end content, yet carries a high risk of being penalized, so we ask that you refrain from using them.
We receive many inquiries regarding infection by viruses and spyware that steal passwords after downloading third-party tools and plugins. To keep your system secure, we ask that you exercise judgement and refrain from needlessly downloading third-party tools or software of unknown origins.
*Enhancements to the HUD and Other UI Elements
We believe that people use the aforementioned tools to expand the HUD and display more information because they feel that existing functions are insufficient for tackling high-end duties. In recognition of this, we intend to review the most prominent tools, and in order to discourage their use, endeavor to enhance the functionality of the HUD. Though it will take some time, we're determined to make it happen─not least for the benefit of those who play on consoles.
High-end Duties and World Races
It goes without saying that we're aware of world races for high-end duties. As the developers, we're proud to have grown into one of the few games where they're held, and it delights us to see so many players participate as well as spectate with great interest.
But a race should be fair, and it's our earnest wish that participants don't use third-party tools. Indeed, we've only released duties that we have proven can be beaten with the game's standard features.
Without a doubt, patch 6.11's Dragonsong's Reprise is the hardest duty we've ever created. Some may compare it to the Unending Coil of Bahamut, but taking into account our players' improved skill, the increased number of actions, and the more complex mechanics, this latest ultimate entry has the edge. To be able to conquer it in such a short time requires great individual prowess, teamwork, and support, and you can consider this gamer thoroughly impressed.
Because such races are unofficial, we usually limit our involvement to some comments after a number of teams have cleared the duty. By offering our congratulations via the official Twitter account and confirming time stamps, we want to recognize your achievements and contribute to community excitement. However, if our recognition encourages excessive competition and controversy to the extent that players resort to third-party tools, I regret to say we may have to reconsider making comments in the future.
Data Mining and Screenshot Leaks
Due to an oversight on the development team's part, model data for Dragonsong's Reprise was present in patch 6.08 data. The data was mined, and the appearance of the raid's final boss was made public. Such data is normally masked and cannot be discovered, but this time it slipped through our checks.
In addition, at virtually the same time the patch was released, a screenshot from a phase that players had yet to reach was leaked. We believe it came from an insider, and are in the middle of a thorough investigation. We refrained from making this known earlier because it would make the investigation more difficult if the suspect were aware of it. Such leaks are utterly unacceptable, for they not only undermine the efforts of the development and operation teams, but also take away from our players' enjoyment.
Previously, when a major leak occurred prior to the release of Shadowbringers, we succeeded in identifying the culprit and took legal action. That there has been another leak despite this is deeply concerning, and in addition to bringing the offender to account, we'll take measures to prevent a repeat of the situation.
Now, be it graphical resources or something else, there may be legal ramifications for mining private data via illicit means with the intent to make it public. Perhaps due to high interest, however, we've been seeing websites that openly release mined graphical data. As a show of our admiration for those who clear ultimate raids, we design their reward weapons to be as eye-catching as possible, and to widely spread their images outside of the game could diminish players' motivation to earn them. I've made this request before, and I make it again: please refrain from disseminating mined data.
The leaks outlined above have led some to speculate that groups may have used server emulators to figure out the progression timeline for this battle. However, FFXIV is run by a variety of independent programs operating on a multitude of specialized servers, so to completely emulate its server environment outside our infrastructure is impossible─it would cost tens of millions of yen just to obtain the necessary servers. Without these servers and their proprietary programming, while one could potentially pull the client software and display model data and the like, the game itself will not operate.
Even if one were to somehow accomplish such a feat, it would still be physically impossible to run the unique programming introduced to the servers upon the application of each patch before the patch is even released. The progression timeline for each duty exists solely within this server-side code, and is never included in the patch data downloaded to players’ clients.
I apologize for any undue concern caused by these rumors, which themselves were sparked by the aforementioned leaks, and once again assure you that we will conduct a full investigation to prevent this from happening in the future.
Thanks to our devoted Warriors of Light, FINAL FANTASY XIV has grown into a titan among games. This means that it is now home to players from all walks of life─and not just longtime FFXIV fans, but those who have recently come to join us from myriad other game communities as well. Many more eyes are now on FFXIV, and posting about it garners a great deal of attention, which has changed how information is shared online and spreads throughout the playerbase.
With this in mind, I would like to encourage the development of a strong FFXIV community by continuing to provide commentary as I have today. Truly, I cannot apologize enough for the many mistakes we made in 6.1, and the resulting disappointment in such a major patch.
Nevertheless, we intend to forge ahead so that FFXIV may continue to bring joy to as many players as possible, and we hope you will stay with us on this journey!
FINAL FANTASY XIV Producer & Director