Final Fantasy 14's producer and director Naoki Yoshida has addressed the recent server congestion issues blighting the long-running MMO following a "staggering and unexpected" increase in the game's popularity.
"Final Fantasy 14 is currently experiencing a dramatic increase in its player base," Yoshida explained in a post to the game's website. "Recently, we have experienced record user numbers in all regions, with a vast amount of new players beginning their adventures." Indeed, the game successfully smashed its record for concurrent players on Steam earlier this month, reaching 47,542 concurrent players versus the previous record of 41,200 set in June 2019.
Although undoubtedly a boon for the potential longevity of the now-decade-old MMO, this "extreme influx" of new players, as Yoshida puts it, has placed a strain on Final Fantasy 14's servers, with congestion issues causing lengthy queue times and preventing players from creating new characters.
Yoshida breaks down the technical reasons behind both issues in considerably more detail in his post, noting that fixing Final Fantasy 14's congestion woes if current player counts persist will ultimately require additional world servers and data centres.
Yoshida says that, due to the surge of interest in the MMO, Square is currently reevaluating its previously announced server and data centre expansion plans to see if it's possible to speed things up. Unfortunately, a decrease in semiconductor production and travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are hampering those efforts, but Yoshida insists Square will continue to do its utmost "to see this goal realised as soon as reasonably possible".
Until then, the team will continue to raise login caps on World servers where possible (although Yoshida admits the recent increase on North American servers still wasn't enough to smoothly handle the number of people wanting to play this weekend) and "humbly" asks two things of existing players to ensure newcomers are able to make characters when starting the game: that they log out of their characters while idle and avoid creating new characters during peak congestion times.
Yoshida also notes that, as an "emergency measure to combat congestion", the development team will be implementing an automatic logout feature in patch 5.58, booting players from a server after an extended period of inactivity.
"We are aware of the burden we have placed on our player base," Yoshida concludes, "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!".