Regarding the Growing Player Population and Plans to Alleviate World Congestion

Greetings FINAL FANTASY XIV players! This is your producer & director, Naoki Yoshida.

First and foremost, I would like to extend my thanks to all of you for your continued support!

Development on our latest expansion pack Endwalker continues as we focus on implementing content and transitioning to the check and polish phase. Expectations for 6.0 are high and have resulted in an increased interest in FINAL FANTASY XIV—especially in North America and Europe, where we are currently experiencing an extreme influx of new players.

Today, I would like to go into detail about the server congestion resulting from this influx and the steps we are taking to address it. The message is a long one, so please bear with me.

Player Population Growth

As mentioned above, FINAL FANTASY XIV is currently experiencing a dramatic increase in its player base. This increase is not only limited to the global version (served by the Japanese, North American, and European data centers) but also the locally operated Chinese and Korean versions as well. Recently, we have experienced record user numbers in all regions, with a vast amount of new players beginning their adventures.

In particular, the increase in NA- and EU-region players over the past two weeks has been both so staggering and unexpected that many players are now having difficulty logging in or creating new characters due to server congestion, and for this we deeply apologize.

Raising Simultaneous Login Caps

The population that can be logged in to each World server at one time is capped; however, as some of you have noticed, this cap is not the same for all servers, and differs somewhat between data centers (Mana, Aether, Chaos, etc.). The main reason for this has to do with a data center’s “matching server.” A matching server can only handle so much information, so to ensure that it functions properly, a capacity limit must be set. This limit determines the overall maximum population of a data center, which is then divided by the number of Worlds in the data center to calculate how many players can be logged in to each World. If a matching server were to overload, it would result in the Duty Finder ceasing to function properly and instability when entering instanced content, hence the importance of login caps.

Differences in login caps occur due to differences in the number of Worlds per data center, as well as differences in matching server performance.

As it happens, the matching servers used in the North American data centers were recently upgraded to higher-performance models. Continued optimization of this new equipment has allowed us, as of July 16, to increase the maximum number of simultaneous logins across the NA data centers by 18,000, or approximately 750 per World server.

A matching server upgrade for the EU data centers, while currently planned for the immediate future, however, is still pending. As such, until the upgrade is implemented, it will be difficult for us to raise World login caps to the same degree as those of North American Worlds. That said, the team is currently working hard to optimize existing servers in an attempt to increase the caps, if by a smaller amount, and will endeavor to make continued adjustments and improvements while maintaining game stability.

Despite the aforementioned cap increase, over the weekend of July 17 and 18, several North American World servers experienced periods of six to seven hours at maximum login capacity. As a result, character creation was unavailable for long periods of time, and players faced average login wait times of 10-20 minutes. For players residing on Worlds in the European data center, weekend login wait times were as high as 40 minutes. We deeply apologize for the situation in both regions.

Character Creation & Login Wait Times

When a World server reaches its maximum capacity, any additional players attempting to log in will be placed in a queue and must wait until a player already on the server logs out before being admitted. As character creation requires a player to be logged in in order to write the newly created data to the database, new characters cannot be created while the server is full.

While we regret having to do so, we would humbly ask two things of our players to ensure that new players have the opportunity to create characters: first, we ask those not actively engaged in the game to log out of their characters rather than remaining logged in while idle. Second, we request that you avoid creating new characters during peak congestion times.
As mentioned above, those who log in while the server is congested may experience login queues, which allow players into the server at a reduced rate in the order that they joined the queue. Login queues occur for two reasons: The first is that the act of logging in temporarily increases a server’s load. When a World experiences a large number of players attempting to log in at once, it may become overloaded and crash. This is best avoided by staggering logins. The second is, as explained earlier, that each World has a maximum login capacity to maintain stability. In such cases, players may only be admitted once others log out.

We ask that you patiently remain in the queue should you encounter wait times. These queues are necessary to ensure that servers remain stable, while providing a safe, fair means for players to enter the game during periods of increased user activity.

Please also note that in order to prioritize our paying customers, the login queue is not available to players using the free trial version (regardless of whether it occurs due to a surge in logins or a World reaching its capacity). Logging in will only be possible for these players after a World’s login queue is cleared. We once again apologize for the inconvenience, but ask for your understanding on this point.

Automatic Logout

As an emergency measure to combat congestion, we are also planning the early implementation of the auto-logout feature originally slated for the expansion launch. With the release of Patch 5.58, if no input is detected from a character for an extended period of time, the character will be automatically logged out of the game. This feature will be further expanded to address the surge in logins expected for the launch of Endwalker.

We understand that this feature will not be the most popular with our players, but would like to assure you that it is an effective means to temporarily combat congestion. We apologize for any inconvenience its implementation may cause, and thank you for bearing with us to ensure that the game remains accessible during this time.

Additional Worlds & Data Centers

A fundamental solution to congestion is an increase in World servers, as well as the addition of data centers. As we have already announced, we are currently in the final stages of preparing our new Oceania data center. At the same time, we have been moving forward with plans to expand even further─putting wheels into motion in the form of approving budgets, securing funding, and purchasing equipment. We intended to assess user numbers and planned content after the release of 6.0, and then work to have new servers or data centers prepared for 7.0.

The current situation, however, has compelled us to reevaluate this timeline and determine if it is possible to speed up the process. There are, however, two obstacles that stand in our way.

Problem 1: Insufficient Servers Due to Semiconductor Shortage
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an extreme drop in semiconductor production in factories across the globe. This, coupled with an increase in demand for electronics due to more people working at home, has resulted in an international shortage of semiconductors that, in turn, has resulted in a prolonged delay in the delivery of the servers we ordered for our data centers.

We have even looked into investing more than market value to speed up delivery, but to no avail. We are not giving up, however, and are in continued talks with vendors from around the world to find a timely solution to this problem.
Problem 2: Travel Restrictions
As we touched upon briefly at the Digital Fan Festival, global travel restrictions due to the pandemic have prevented our server infrastructure team from physically visiting the data center locations, causing a considerable reduction in work efficiency. While over the past year and a half the team has managed to work remotely with overseas staff on the Oceania data center, it has been a challenge—a challenge that our staff will have to face once again as we look to expand server capacity in Europe or North America. That said, many members of the team have been proactively getting their COVID vaccinations and are looking into options such as vaccine passports as we plan for in-person visits to data centers. Of course, even should the opportunity to travel arise, we will respect each staff member’s opinion on the matter and put their safety first.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation in other countries, and once it has been deemed safe and efficient given mandatory quarantines, etc. will take further steps toward resuming on-site work overseas.

Though the obstacles that still face us are many, we believe that the best, most effective method for providing our players a stress-free gameplay experience is through the introduction of new servers and data centers. To see this goal realized as soon as reasonably possible, we on the development, operations, and infrastructure teams pledge to continue to do our utmost.

In Conclusion

As producer, the responsibility for being unable to predict the current influx of new players falls to me. The days before an expansion’s launch are supposed to be ones of excitement, but instead they’ve brought many players grief, and for that I, personally, am extremely sorry.

For years, we have watched devoted players from around the world stream their time with FINAL FANTASY XIV, and now, we sit in awe while new fans join their ranks. As we enter our final push in the development of Endwalker, it is this constant flow of positive energy that motivates all of us on the development and operations team to carry on. Nothing can compare to the feeling we get watching you enjoy playing the game we’ve created.

We are aware of the burden we have placed on our player base, and are working diligently to lighten it in the coming weeks and months. We will continue to develop measures to combat server congestion, and will keep you up to date with any and all developments in this area.

Thank you once again for your continued support!

Naoki Yoshida

Final Fantasy XIV Producer & Director

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