Final Fantasy 14 has a ridiculously generous free trial—one that, as of next month, is going to include two expansions that encompass hundreds of hours of playtime. It's still a subscription-based MMO at its heart though, something which director and producer Naoki Yoshida doesn't intend on changing anytime soon.
"I believe the free trial will continue to be expanded, but we have no plans of making the client itself free at the moment," Yoshida told Eurogamer. "Since a huge amount of time and money has been invested in the expansion packages, the revenue from sales of the expansion package itself is still very important in order to continue to make expansions on this scale. We would like to constantly aim for the best on the business side as well to continue making a lot of content to be enjoyed."
It's a reasonable stance to take, and I personally couldn't see a near future where Final Fantasy 14 was totally free-to-play. The game has been doing perfectly fine with its current model, after all—lest we forget that the Endwalker expansion was so popular Square Enix had to suspend the free trial and pull the game from sale altogether for six weeks. The free trial still has plenty of restrictions that are frustrating enough for dedicated players to cough up money for a monthly subscription, too.
It's been 10 years since Final Fantasy 14 was rereleased as A Realm Reborn, a reworked experience after its original 2010 venture was lambasted by critics and fans alike. Next year will see the game's fifth expansion, Dawntrail, released alongside its first graphics overhaul to give things a wee spruce up.
"New grand stories, new jobs, new settings for the adventure; these things are important," Yoshida said. "But to upgrade the system and make it possible to do things that were previously impossible are also important. I believe the first graphics update can be seen as part of this category."