Final Fantasy XIV still clings to life, although – with its meagre player populations now a mere third or less of its peak – for how much longer is a matter of some quite unfriendly speculation.
Square Enix eventually responded to the humiliating PR disaster of its server population collapse by ceasing to make server populations public, however this did not stop the remaining players from conducting their own unofficial population estimates.
The main method used appears to be using specially designed tools to count the number of player characters showing any change each day, using the public player database.
This has given rise to fairly complete estimates for server populations in lieu of the official ones.
The most recent comprehensive piece of research is the following chart for the last day of January – showing from left to right, the server, the server population as a percentage of Cornelia (the benchmark server), the estimated active daily players, and the estimated number of alt or mule characters (57% of the total):
This suggests an estimated active daily unique player population of only 17,776.
The total active character figure of 31,150 can safely be ignored as the last official unique player count was 22,000, back in November (the same day saw Cornelia counted at 4019 using the unofficial method) – with players reporting virtually deserted servers, it is safe to say the collapse reflected in the numbers is real.
More recent statistics only exist for Cornelia – although some simple calculations allow an estimate of the current population to be arrived at; for the last week of January the average was 2086, and for the most recent week of March the figure is 1850.
This 12% decrease suggests the total active population has decreased somewhat to 15,500 or so – a mere third of the peak numbers reported.
This week also saw the release of a patch which made enemies bigger – sadly for Square Enix it seems not to have had the same effect on player numbers.
With player numbers now less than those of a minor browser game, it seems unlikely even the combined effects of making the game F2P and releasing an upgraded PS3 version will do anything but delay the inevitable for a game whose only accolade is being proclaimed the most disappointing game of 2010.