OK, that said...
We are now about 36 hours or so from VanaFest 2010, and what do I think is going to happen? Let's take a look at some possibilities...
First possibility: A new expansion?
Especially given the recent (debunked yet still reported) rumors that FFXI is done the moment FFXIV comes out (so much so that Massively actually came out with the theory that the March 2010 Update would be the last update), Square-Enix, if they really want people to believe that "the evolution of Final Fantasy XI is not over!!", is going to have to do something BIG.
I mean really big.
And there are those people proposing that they are actually looking at a full-scale new expansion.
Probability: Quite low. I can't see it.
First, you have to convince me that they are able to feasibly run one MMO, much less two. That's the main reason I think there is this rumor (and not even the denials of Square-Enix are good enough for some people (like me)). Show me something on Sunday that indicates that this corpse is being revived.
Second, that will take something of this level. It really will. You have a bunch of little cretins (especially on the American side) who have turned this game into a pile of shit. If you really want us to continue to pay our $12.95/mo, we need to see something. A new expansion, especially if it's an idea as to exactly what they're going to do.
Second possibility: New jobs?
Probability: Essentially zero, without a new expansion. 20 is a nice, round number, and I can't see them tinkering with any new jobs without a whole new situation to meld them around.
That said, it'd be another "something" of the level needed to make some of us believe they desire a game of the future.
Third possibility: Job adjustments, which jobs next??
They've already hit WHM, NIN (though I am shocked that, in exchange, they didn't nerf Utsusemi a bit), BST, and SMN (without any new avatars).
My guesses: They'll finally rule out new avatars once and for all. They'll claim game balance, but I think it's more that they've basically gutted the resources from XI for XIV.
If I had to guess, they've been talking for a couple years about RDM -- and I would not be surprised to see someone like either PUP or DRG to get an upgrade to make it a bit more viable rather than a "lol-job"...
Exactly which and what jobs and adjustments, though -- anyone's guess. I predict RDM and DRG, but we'll see Saturday night or Sunday early morning (our time).
Fourth possibility: Campaign adjustments in the new update...
Campaign has become unplayable.
It simply has. Most of the mid-week, you can't even really play the zones because no one wants to actually Campaign anymore. The Union System hasn't worked, Beaucedine and Xarcabard Shadowrealm are a freaking sick joke, and the whole Wings of the Goddess mechanic is falling flat -- on -- it's -- ass.
So, what are they going to do?
Predictions: I would think they're going to be have to bring back the Fortification XP, as abusive as it is. I think they are going to HAVE TO seriously nerf both the Campaign and native monsters in Beaucedine (S) and Xarcabard (S) -- especially if they do intro the new endgame zone and mechanic this update (and I think they will!).
What I would like to see: I'd like to see a more punitive approach, not only in Campaign but in Besieged as well. You don't care about winning zones in the past? It affects the zones in the present negatively. You lose the Astral Candescence? The effects are felt across Aht Urhgan, in that the zones become SIGNIFICANTLY harder to navigate and work through.
Fifth possibility: The Big Announcement
So what's the big announcement?
My prediction: Completely underwhelming to the FFXI community, unless you're into FFXIV. My prediction is the release date and beta schedule for FFXIV. I really think the under-the-table attitudes of Square-Enix (in vino veritas-style) is coming out, and they're going to do what they should've done a year ago -- quickly phase out FFXI.
I'd like to know where they got the figures, but our LS was talking about it last night: FFXI has only about 3% of the MMO market -- WoW has two-thirds of the market.
Out of the box theories: Making FFXI Free to Play, making the uber-equipment easier to get (perhaps even Square-Enix RMT?), using the "soccer field" for a new game mechanic, Windower becomes legal and first-party supported, and I'm sure I'll come up with others before Saturday night/Sunday morning.
So what do you think will happen?