FFXIV:ARR – An Adventure in Customer Service

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When it comes to Final Fantasy, I consider myself a fangirl. I’m not the type that tries to convert you to thinking that Final Fantasy is the greatest thing ever. I’m the type that doesn’t really care what you think and I’m just going to stay in my little room, hugging my moogle and cactuar plushies, playing Final Fantasy games even if they suck. I will buy games that say “Final Fantasy” on them JUST BECAUSE they say “Final Fantasy” on them. I’ve got an unopened Dissidia game somewhere because I HATE fighting games, but it’s a Final Fantasy thing. That also means that I bought the Collector’s Edition of the original release of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010, even though I had played the beta and it was a pretty terrible game. I played the original for less than a week before giving it up and leaving it for dead.

So when Square Enix announced that they would be redoing the entire game, I was intrigued, but I didn’t pay too much attention. I knew that when it was re-released, I would buy it again. When it comes to Final Fantasy (and Dragon Quest), Square Enix can always count on my dollar. Always. As soon as they announced a beta sign-up, I did so. Many months later, I received an invitation to beta test during their Phase 3 of the beta test. The game that greeted me was incredible. I couldn’t believe the amazing transformation and I couldn’t wait for the game to actually release. I started hyping my friends on it and even convinced my husband to play! And believe me, this was one of those snow in Honolulu kind of things. (We don’t get snow in Honolulu, Like ever.) My friends and family were all playing by the time the open beta came out and our games were preordered.

As an original Collectors Edition purchaser, I didn’t have to buy the game again. I would get ALL the new digital in-game CE stuff. Awesome. If I wanted to play during Early Access, however, I had to have a preorder code from preordering the game from either the Square Enix store or some other retailer like Gamestop or Amazon.com. I had already preordered the physical Collectors Edition, which was an exclusive on the Square Enix store even though I didn’t need it because I wanted all the PHYSICAL stuff that came with it. Since my son wanted to play, I’d give him the preorder code from that purchase in addition to the product key. He’d get the in-game swag and I’d get to keep the physical swag. My husband preordered a digital CE version since we were already getting the physical CE stuff, so that’s where his preorder key and product key came from. I still needed my own preorder key so that I could play during Early Access so I ended up preordering a PS3 CE from Gamestop.

On August 20th, I received an e-mail from the Square Enix store that they had shipped my physical CE. “Great,” I thought. “It should get here in plenty of time since the game doesn’t release until August 27th and Square was letting people play without keys until a few days after that.” Surely it would get here by then, right? RIGHT?

When Early Access started on the 24th, we were all able to log in and play. At first. But ultimately, due to log in problems, disconnects, server overloads, and other errors, I hardly got to play with my husband because he couldn’t log in at all and I could only log in sometimes. At this point I was starting to get annoyed. However, I’ve been playing MMO’s since about 2000, so I know how launches go. My husband tells me that when EverQuest first launched in 1999, it was down for the entire FIRST WEEK. I decided I would be patient.

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On the day of release, I picked up my PS3 CE version of the game and I got this nifty cloth banner along with it. I still haven’t actually applied my PS3 code to my account and linked my Square Enix ID with my PSN account. Honestly, I’m afraid that I’m going to mess up my account or something if I do ANYTHING in the Mog Station (Account Management).

As I mentioned last week, when the game went live, my husband received his product key and applied it to his account. But instead of adding it to his existing account, it created a new one! What?! Apparently, he was supposed to press the button with the ARR logo on it. Not the button that says, “Add Service.” Square Enix has a web form SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS PROBLEM. At the time of this writing, the forum thread about it is up to over 750 pages. The following day, he received an automated response that he would get a response to his ticket within two business days. In theory, he should have gotten a response on August 30th, but he didn’t. So he couldn’t play over the long weekend and his account was STILL messed up this week.

So let’s put my poor husband on hold for a minute and talk about my son. I’m writing this post on Thursday, September 5th and the physical CE of the game still has not arrived. It has been SIXTEEN days. So my son hasn’t been able to play and I’m left to wonder why the HELL Square Enix didn’t send it Priority Mail. (My best guess is that they sent it Parcel Post, which is just one notch better than sending it slow-boat.) I am hoping that when I get home from work, it will be sitting there, waiting for me. (It wasn’t.) So if you want to know one reason why I’m planning to move to the mainland, here’s a good one.

Okay, back to my husband. Square Enix support is available during normal business hours in the Pacific timezone, which is currently three hours ahead of Hawaiian time, so it’s not feasible for us to sit on hold for hours on end. We’re either driving to work or AT work during that time. Fortunately, a friend of mine has been on vacation for the last two weeks and he offered to contact customer support for us. (His Arcanist is almost level 50.) This is a very close friend, by the way, so I trust him. I’m not sure if he called or used the online chat function, but when he got to the front of the line, he was told, “There are no agents available to chat with you right now. Please try again later.” My friend is persistent and today he tried again. This time, he was successful and my husband’s account is all fixed.

Ah, but what about me? Have I been playing in the meantime? Not really. With all the server problems, I was unable to log in for most of the past week and even when I was successful, I was usually so angry that my husband and son couldn’t play with me that it wasn’t fun playing the game. I was starting to associate some very negative feelings with playing, so I stopped trying to log in altogether. Earlier this week, they did some maintenance to add servers and worlds so that more people would be able to log into the game and play. I logged in once just to see if I could and then logged back out again. And while my husband’s account is fixed, until my son can play, I probably won’t play, either. I’ll just end up being angry and I don’t want to ruin my experience or anyone else’s with my bad attitude.

I love Final Fantasy. A LOT. And this new and improved version of XIV is truly excellent. However, this is probably the first time my love for this franchise has been tested so intensely. I don’t know how many times during the last two weeks I’ve either said out loud, in chat, or on Facebook, “Fuck this game.” Not because of the game, but because it has been a TERRIBLE customer service experience. I’m very close to just buying another digital copy of the game so that my son can play, but then I’ll be EVEN ANGRIER about the extra money that I spent!

To my son’s credit, today when we were talking about this in our Linkshell’s Facebook group, he said, “Just delayed gratification,” and posted the following video:

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