Square Enix has announced that it is pausing sales of Final Fantasy XIV while it waits for server congestion to die down after the release of the latest expansion, titled Endwalker. It's the second time the company has had to do so in 2021.
Producer Naoki Yoshida shared the news in a blog post, which also included promises of gifting players additional game time to their accounts due to the intense congestion, as well as additional gameplay restrictions for players who are already registered for the "free trial" version of the game.
Final Fantasy XIV's popularity has expanded wildly in the last few months--and while some of it is attributed to streamer dissatisfaction with World of Warcraft (for Activision Blizzard's alleged toxic culture as well as general player malaise being cited as key factors), it's also worth noting that Square Enix has made it very easy for new players to try out the game for free.
And hey, it's apparently a good game. The team at Square Enix has previously explained that COVID-19 restrictions (and global chip shortages) have made it difficult for them to add more server space to the popular MMORPG, leading them to now throttle sales.
It's probably exceptionally stressful for the Final Fantasy XIV team to have to pause sales on their game while they sort out congestion issues. Explosive success is obviously better and more encouraging than dismal failure, but it's also a hard lesson for how game developers of all shapes and sizes truly struggle when it comes to handling problems at this large scale.