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Free to play period extended for Final Fantasy XIV Online

Negative fan feedback leads to extension of trial period as developers address issues

Square Enix is extending the free to play trial period for its MMO Final Fantasy XIV Online after negative fan feedback highlighted a number of issues with the game's UI, systems and gameplay. The company plans to have fixed nearly all of the problems which fans were displeased about by late November.

FF XIV saw a disappointing reception from critics on release, only managing a 54 per cent metacritic average. Early adopters of the game who bought the advance release collector's edition were given a month of free access to servers - a period which will now be doubled thanks to the "current state of the game".

In a statement on the official website for the game, Square Enix staff were unequivocal in their admission of the improvements which fans deemed necessary.

"Since the official launch of service on September 30, 2010, we have received a wealth of constructive feedback from the Final Fantasy XIV community, and the development and management teams would like to take this opportunity to express their sincerest gratitude," read the post.

"For those who purchased the collector's edition and began to play one week before official service began, the month-long free play period is drawing to a close. Considering the nature of much of the feedback we received, however, and the current state of the game, we have decided to extend the free trial period for all users."

"We would like to assure players that the world of Final Fantasy XIV is constantly growing and evolving, and the voices of the community are essential to that process. The development and management teams are carefully considering all player feedback, and working diligently to implement whatever changes and additions will serve to make Eorzea a better home for adventurers. We humbly ask for your continued support to this end," Square Enix concluded.

Response on the game's forum has been mixed, with some expressing great praise that Square Enix would act so strongly on fan feedback, while others complain that the changes are too little, too late.

"While at first glance it appears they've addressed "pretty much everything" when you start to list off all the of major things that still need to be addressed, the list they're planning on addressing seems quite small," wrote one poster.

"If you have any experience with Square Enix you'd see that this is as close as they'll come to saying, 'Yeah, we screwed up. We're trying as best we can to listen to you guys and make this game enjoyable for everyone. Here's a free month as a token of our sincerity'," replied another.

Final Fantasy XIV Online is currently available for PC, with a PS3 release planned for March 2011. Full details of the changes planned and the extension of the free trial period are available on the official website.

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Dan Pearson