Anyone who tells you that Final Fantasy XI was the same after January 22, 2009 as it was before does not know what he or she is talking about.
2009 is a year that FFXI basically finally threw in the towel on it's own future, and the Salvage bans were basically the final straw.
Then, on December the 24th, Square-Enix made an announcement which should have most of the remaining player-base holding it's collective breath. If (and I expect that, if it is possible to do so feasibly, they will) ban for App and NASA alone, conservative estimates state that the number banned could be an order of magnitude more than the January 22 bans.
Why is this the case? Because, in the eyes of almost every significant player in the game, the Terms of Service are a noose, within which you cannot play Final Fantasy XI.
But, to back up before I get to the future and some of the comments made on the Third Party Programs announcement:
The bans came as a surprise, as many of the players did not believe that Square-Enix would pull it off. I think one of the reasons is that they knew that losing this many of the high-end players would have a damaging effect on certain aspects of the game. (Several servers, most notably the abject piece-of-shit that always was Asura, may never recover...)
They also include as least one prominent podcaster, for which Square-Enix still refuses to take the requisite action against their podcast. Banned players needs to be gone, and as players, no just their characters.
Given that, I do believe that the banhammers for Third Party Programs are in the pipeline, but, knowing how many players are involved, and the probable effects, it's a matter of if they can implement the bans without taking the entire game down (which they should have done, anyway, if they can't). If they go ahead, and the bans are in any number close to what is being estimated, they will have to merge the servers to a number at least 1/3 less than what it is now, if not 2/3!
The thing is, the cheaters and their little friends have either been ramping up their cheating (with Third Party Programs, etc.) or quitting the game this year. Even if another set of banhammers does not fall, it's pretty clear that there's going to have to be some server consolidation anyway.
But this year, by most accounts, was a year that cheating and bans had a significant impact on FFXI, and, if Square-Enix wants any future MMO to be taken seriously, even more so in the year just beginning...
Don't believe me? Look at some of these things I've read on BG...
Wipers: "My thoughts are that they are going to ban the hell out of people to get them to quit FFXI to go to FFXIV."
Now, I have two problems with this:
1) Why would I, if I were a company of that ilk, want these fuckers on XIV? Why wouldn't I ban them all from ALL Square-Enix MMO's? One of my main things about XIV is that XIV will fail, and quickly, unless the botters and cheaters are not on it.
Bunkmonk said it perfectly: "Also, why would SE want to have their new playerbase for FFXIV be a shitload of cheaters from FFXI? Brilliant..."
And that's exactly what the player-base for XIV will be, under the present parameters.
2) Why would I, if I finally got an indication that Square-Enix was serious about all this, even want to continue playing any MMO Square-Enix has out?
Secondly, Stewie: "If you owned a company like SE would you throw away $1M a year when you barely do anything to make it?"
If you owned Square-Enix and understood that not doing so could constitute sue-able fraud...
I mean, seriously, Stewie, do you honestly believe that not acting on all this would not constitute the following definition of fraud from uslegal.com (through a blog I read, The Market Ticker):
On top of that, I could probably consider going after the cheaters for the same thing...
Onward to Kotomi: "Anyway, looking at the botting situation, I don't know why Square wastes their time. The FFXI community has too many smart people(amazing, I know) for there to never be botting. If you take down one, rest assured there's someone out there that will be developing another one.
Keep fighting the never ending."
I almost wish I had the code for the stick figure running around, because there's only one answer to Kotomi's comment if it is true: "SHUT DOWN EVERYTHING!" If fair gameplay under the rules as legally set in a binding document is not possible, shut it down.
SathFenrir with some nonsense: "And after getting banned most of them re-accomplished more in FFXI than most of the QQers
I'm fine with getting banned. I did a relic from scratch on a lv1 new character in 9 months, I've beat FFXI up, down, and sideways. Bring on FFXIV.
That being said, we're not getting banned, Maury deleted the list and it was not turned over as evidence. Seems some of you have problems reading."
First off, fuck you and the horse you rode in on, you cheating piece of shit.
If you don't get banned, your presence in the game indicates fraud on the part of Square-Enix.
But this is exactly the attitude I am talking about. The cheaters and RMT have functional control over the game because of their sheer numbers.
And if Maury didn't turn over the list, that's obstruction and another criminal offense.
The only way your bullshit could stand up is to basically say that Square-Enix' continued inaction previous to this cedes all claims to ownership of the gil, gear, etc. and so forth.
"Also, I'm no lawyer but Jack McCoy is, and he speaks through me. I believe federal statutes prevent the forced disclosure of material (exculpatory evidence) unless that evidence will be used as direct evidence in any civil or criminal legislation that may arise out of any plea taken or verdict passed down from the original legal violation."
And if you believe, Sath, that the Constitution of the United States of America is still "The Law of the Land", you're real fucking funny.
"What does that all mean for us? SE has no standing to hold us, users, criminally or civilly liable for any infractions that may have occurred in, or as a result of our enrollment in a MMORPG community. There are no existing federal or even civil precedents that would uphold any such ruling. As such, any agreement or clause that SE may have wanted to tie on to an agreement made with Maury would not be upheld legally, especially on appeal."
Then they have NO RIGHT to ownership of anything in said MMO. Do you see how motherfucking ridiculous your stand is, Sath??
Yabby: "I know this is being said way too much, but if they take out everyone that has used app thats most of the endgame that the salvage bans missed."
Here's the thing: Conservative estimates are saying you could literally empty out the number of people playing on any one time of at least 1/4 of the servers with the number of bans. My position is this: They want to ban the App/NASA people, for all the reasons I've talked about all year on this blog.
BUT: They have to figure out how they're going to pull that off without basically killing the rest of the game (unless that becomes the only option). This is why I believe there will be banhammers, and the only question is the amount of time it's going to take Square-Enix to figure out what to do with the remaining players, because this is going to make the Salvage bans look like a playground game.
Eanae with the next one: "I don't think you realize how many people bot. Claim bots, craft bots, fish bots. If they were serious about it, we're talking 3-4 servers worth of people easily. Think about it. At least one full ls per server plus other botters. Also, like it or not, windower and all the accesories like ap radar are equally against the rules as botting are. Everyone who thinks they're above botters, the tos doesn't discriminate. ALL third party apps are against the tos. Personally, I think people who ignore the fact that windower is against the rules too are the arrogant ones. I await them going on a crusade. I have my WoW account ready if I get banned."
Go to WoW, then.
I think you're underestimating the problem. You're talking probably most every American 75 on PC at minimum. (This is why I can't even be outside suspicion, and that's one of the things which really pisses me off about how bad FFXI has gotten in these regards.) I said it back in January and I say it now. If they can't or won't ban for Windower and all that, then their only option is to shut the game down as a fraudulent enterprise.
This is the problem, as Phraust notes:
"To the individuals saying "It's too late, they should have done ______ earlier." They're not X years behind, they're about a year ahead. This isn't "They should have done this back in 2004." This is "They're sending a clear message to the users of thier game in 2010." Also note, I doubt Nasa and App was even available in 2004... So saying they should have done something about about something that doesn't exist is kinda wierd. And coincidentally, they are doing something about something that doesn't exist RE: Bots in FFXIV."
They need a fair player-base for XIV, or XIV is dead before it even goes BETA. I would think there would be reverse-engineering and bots to kill the fair XIV experience before XIV is even released. Do you really think Square-Enix wants to take that chance?
(Of course, the cheater shitheads would counter: "Do they have any choice?")
I could go on; there's seven more pages or so, but you get the idea... We are, once again, in a real state of flux, and it's the cheating shitheads who've done it again.
WHO OWNS THIS GAME? WHO OWNS FFXIV??
Those are your two main questions as we start 2010.