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I personally still play FFXI and still since the begining, now alot of people who've played the game and quit, come on to these sites either to bash the game or talk about how it was and use too be.... yes there where some positive sides to the game in the begining but like all other great MMORPG's, it doesnt last. The reason behind the changes where for starters the populations was droping faster than a turd in a punch bowl. Second inorder to bring and stablize the popluation to not abandon the game they needed to make dramatic changes. I believe they were postive while still keep true to the core of the game play style and story lore.
This game will not die out, I'm pretty sure of it the community is unrelenting and unwavering in it's style, lore and entertainment. The community still continues to be the best I believe in he world of MMO gaming. Very helpful, friendly, adventuring and most importantly MATURE.
Honestly I've played a fair share of other mmorpg's during my subcription with FFXI and to tell you nothing compare with it in storlore and community. You'll enjoy yourself on it, once you find a great linkshell and there's plenty of people who are willing to hand you one.
Have A Happy Thanksgiving