[Final Fantasy XI] E3 is a well-spring of information of just about anything related to gaming. Final Fantasy XI is just as lucky as any other. After the annoucement of Xbox 360, you would expect the floodgates to open for all the developers to announce their games. The interesting one for FFXI players is that FFXI will be ported over to Xbox 360. This news item was profound enough for Forbes to pick up the Microsft/Square Enix annoucement. Words like “key victory” were even used. I don’t really see how this can be touted as a “key victory” when Microsoft is including a four-year-old MMO on a console that isn’t exactly percieved as RPG/MMO-friendly, but when you’re Microsoft (and engaged in a console war with gaming powerhouse Sony), you take your victories however you can get them
What does this mean for FFXI? More players, first and foremost. The lifeblood of any MMO, especially one the size of FFXI, is players. The more the better. This will mean that FFXI will be the only MMO that operates across three different platforms (PC, PS2, now Xbox 360). This allows SE to continue to develop content knowing that they will not be losing subscribers anytime soon. Second, this makes one wonder if the PS3 version of the game is far off. SE has plainly stated that they are a multi-platform company and Sony has supported SE greatly in their endeavor to bring FFXI to their console. I would be shocked to hear that there wasn’t going to be a PS3 version.
Conjecture around the Xbox 360 version is rampant, but most of the speculated improvements are likely to be overblown. SE has said they have no intentions of locking players out of graphical upgrades and as the PS2 is the limiting factor here, we are likely to see resolutional upgrades for Xbox 360 but not much else. Play Online (SE’s proprietary network) will likely still be the portal to reach FFXI, and if the rumors about how the next generation Xbox Live pricing structure will work are true, then it will not cost new players anything more than the normal cost of the content ID’s to play.
The other likely outcome from this will be a new expansion. Although, a new expansion was likely to emerge soon anyway, this annoucement will likely set a firm date for when it will be available. There is precedence for an expansion to be made available when this MMO hits a new platform, as the Rise of the Zilart was made available when the PS2 version of FFXI was released in the US.