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Now that I have your attention, I'm not here to ask whether this game is f2p or to say that it should be, but rather to bring up some thoughts I had that might appease a wider audience.
FFXI was technically my first MMO, having only played PSO prior which was completely instanced outside of of lobbies. I can't say it was a shining example of fantastic game mechanics, but something about it seemed to bring together a great community and experience for the players who took the time to become engrossed by it. I currently play GW2 on occasion, though having been a fan of many GW1 mechanics, I can't say I'm entirely impressed by it, but that's a different discussion. Furthermore, GW2 and most MMOs I've played since FFXI have had communities that felt distant. I feel this is probably an issue with many MMOs adopting a solo centric grind more so than anything, but again, that's a different discussion. My point is that I loved FFXI mostly because of the community that it nurtured and I'd love to love FFXIV too. However...
My mindset has changed quite a bit since I played FFXI. I was a teenager with nothing better to do really. Now in my mid 20s with many responsibilities and productive things I could be doing, I seem to have adopted a different perspective which I'm sure others have as well. I understand games being a form of entertainment and despite being unproductive, not really being any less productive than the many other forms of entertainment out there. However, I find it hard to justify paying a monthly subscription to essentially burn my time away, especially on something I already purchased. There's probably many flaws in the way I see this, but it is how I see it. Still, I'm not here to say it should be f2p, but rather to look at possibilities to cater to more people.
I've noticed there are a number of people on both sides, those liking the p2p model in place and those who wish it were f2p/b2p. I don't want to take from the p2p crowd, especially since you all have the high ground right now and the game is already slated to go in your direction. I also see SE justification in using the p2p model out of honor as they said. They've promised a cheaper subscription to those who supported the game pre ARR and it wouldn't be good to those people, their biggest supporters, if they simply threw that incentive out the window in favor of an entirely different business model for ARR. The three main points I've seen for having this game release and remain p2p so far are:
I personally feel all these points could be satisfied while still offering a f2p model for those of us who can't justify the $15 a month for whatever reason.
Firstly, I would suggest that the game either use a megashard system like GW1 or the upcoming ESO where everyone is a part of one world thats split into channels so that areas don't become over populated and so that the hardware can still split up the population and manage it without catching fire, or a world guesting service like GW2 except limited by only being able to guest to worlds where you have friends. The purpose behind this would be to allow subscriber only shards / worlds, without keeping subscription players from their friends who play without a subscription. That way, you have dedicated subscriber communities within the game for those that want it, and the open f2p communities for those who prefer that.
Next, keeping developer focus on the content and subscribers desires definitely requires an outside of the box solution. In FFXI, the developers had their own server (atomos I believe) for testing and tweaking new content. To keep the subscribers wants and desires closer to the developers, some of the subscriber only shards/worlds could be for testing some of this new content and getting the subscriber communities feedback. Essentially a constantly evolving beta shard/world which only subscribers have access to. And to keep SE attention on new content and not f2p goodies, leave the development of costumes / mounts / dungeons etc. to the players. Valve does this with Dota 2 and TF2 already with great success. Essentially give the tools to the players to create these new content with incentive to do so, have each submitted piece go through SE for approval, then post it to the cash shop. FFXI had a small modding community and don't think it would be hard to find players willing to put their work forward for a chance it having it added to the game, especially if they could get whatever they made for free and a bit of currency to throw at the cash shop.
Lastly, to stay true to their word with their most loyal players, SquareEnix could easily give them a lifetime discount of $5 from an optional subscription model that rewarded a monthly allowance with a few extra perks. With a tiered model, that would mean legacy members could play at a $5 a month subscriber status for free, $10 for $5, $15 for 10, etc. etc.
A service like the ever popular mmo auction house, except for advertising linkshells / guilds for players without to browse and request an invite, especially when compounded with features to build a linkshell or guild around a certain draw (hobbies, likes, objectives, etc.) would easily open the doors to tight knit communities. With the right tools in place, I think you can encourage tight communities without limiting them in any way, whether by using static servers to create a finite number of players or financial barriers to do the same.
I'm not saying this IS the solution or that this is what they should do, but I would be interested in hearing what others think, especially the people who are happy with the p2p model that's set for release.