Friday, March 18, 2011

Ides of March IV

Some corrections and thoughts as we head into the sixth day without FFXI:

On my Twitter, I noted a forum post which reported that Square-Enix had donated 100,000,000 yen to the relief effort.

This number was correct. My math, of the current exchange rate, was not. I added a zero to the dollar conversion. The number (at 80 yen/$) is $1,250,000 -- the rate is fluctuating wildly, as a massive "prop up the dollar" motif has pumped several yen per dollar back into the rate since.

Second, about four hours ago this morning, Square-Enix announced that the games were going to be down at least two additional days, with the next update probably coming on Tuesday, March 22.

Don't hold your breath: A supposed localization person with Square-Enix who works on and plays FFXI reported the following on his Twitter... YMMV:

feyuey its chaotic around the office....i'll provide updates when i can...but i don't expect anything until mid april or later....#ffxi #ffxiv

Third (and related to the second): A respectful disagreement (though a strong one) with Aneiro. Yesterday, he and his cohorts put together a quick-turnaround Limit Breaking News 19 (which is now at the top of the website -- but may not be for long. With no XI or XIV, LBR is trying to get content out quickly, so the second half of the GFFD may be out soon.)

After about 10-15 minutes on the Japan situation and the suspension of the games, they went in to some of the reported changes in the now-May version update. None of that, except for my feelings on how bad Dynamis is about to get cockblocked, is a disagreement.

My disagreement comes right at the end of the show, and I'm probably one of the people Aneiro is talking about.

Disclaimer: Nothing I say here is to indicate that the servers being put back up as soon as humanly and humanitarily possible is not the intention and desire of Square-Enix.

However, I cannot, at this time, agree with Aneiro with the clarity and strength he states it that the servers are, categorically, going to return.


Because I think we are all (both here and in Japan) getting bullshitted on the severity of the nuclear and electric situation in Japan to a serious level.

I question not that Aneiro has received news that is far more optimistic than anything I've read (my jaw dropped at the apparent inconsistencies with some of his reports and some of mine -- and I've been everywhere from BBC World Service to Reuters to various blogs and message boards that I can stomach).

What I've been reading (and this is now from Yahoo! this morning) indicates that they are going to have to entomb Fukushima Daiichi, Chernobyl-style. This appears to indicate that the reports of a full containment rupture appear to be true, and that not only is the plant dead, but the chances are that it will, at best without rather immediate action (if it isn't doing so already), go China Syndrome.

My understanding is that the Fukushima plants provided a double-digit percentage of all of Japan's power. There is now talk that it could be weeks to months before the daily battles to prevent an apocalyptic meltdown which could take out a large swath of land near the plant end.

Some of the statements made by the Japanese press indicate that they are on to that the government is trying to tap-dance around the severity of the situation. Even with the honorable nature of most Japanese culture, it is clear that nerves are fraying. Japan finally raised their belief on the damage on a seven-point scale of nuclear disasters to a Level 5, though most people believe it's been a Level 6 (only surpassed by Chernobyl) for most of the last week! Many reporters are very out of character in their blasting of the present situation.

Here's the thing: The power conservation efforts which have required the game shutdown are going to go on for quite a while, I am sure. I am almost certain that, even if the game is brought up, it will no longer be a 24-7 operation.

This doesn't have to go on forever for Square-Enix to be forced to permanently terminate FFXI and (ESPECIALLY) FFXIV (which is still, for all material purpose, in a gamma test situation).

The Square-Enix MMO division is not in very good shape before the earthquake took place. Now, they are not going to be able to get revenue for not only the entire outage, but probably (as a goodwill gesture to the players) one entire billing period thereafter.

The question that everyone who wishes to take a position on whether the servers will return is the following: Can the power situation be restored feasibly before the servers are down for such a period of time that it is no longer worth it for Square-Enix to restore them?

I'm not as sure as Aneiro is.

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