Square-Enix is planning to rehabilitate its global MMO business this February when Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn enters beta testing on PCs and PlayStation 3. The company’s online role-playing business has been slow to evolve over the past half decade especially since its very first effort in the online multiplayer arena has proven so resilient. More than a decade after its first release, Final Fantasy XI is still going strong. The most recent expansion, Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Andoulin, will be released in English in time for the game to celebrate its eleventh birthday.
Square announced on Wednesday that Seekers of Andoulin will make the jump to the US on March 26, 2013 and run $30, relatively cheap considering the high prices of other Square games like its burgeoning iOS library.
Most surprising of all is that the US version of Seekers of Andoulin will not just be available on PC. It will also be available for Xbox 360 in the US. Final Fantasy XI was actually one of the very first Xbox 360 games. Released in April 2006 it was also the very first cross-platform MMO for the console as well, mixing players on PC servers with those on Microsoft’s console. Seekers of Andoulin is also available on Sony’s enduring PlayStation 2 console, the machine that Final Fantasy XI originally released for, but that version won’t be available in the United States.
Anyone looking to try Final Fantasy XI for the first time will actually be able to purchase a $40 edition of the game called Final Fantasy XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition that includes Andoulin as well as the four previous expansions to the game.
There’s been speculation since 2010 that Final Fantasy XI would finally close. First because of the release of Final Fantasy XIV that year, an MMO opening that was so widely panned that it actually reinforced Final Fantasy XI’s place in active development. More recently those closure rumors came when the game’s producer Hiromichi Tanaka resigned from Square-Enix.
Final Fantasy XI will stay open for the foreseeable future, though, bucking all expectations. As of this writing, it’s the most profitable game ever released in the Final Fantasy series so there’s no reason to end it just yet.
Square also needs a stable base for its MMO business. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has yet to prove itself in the market after the company has poured investment into its development and Dragon Quest X likely won’t leave Japanese Wiis and Wii Us anytime in the near future.