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New players will be able to purchase digital copies of Final Fantasy XIV again starting on January 25th, the game's director and producer Naoki Yoshida has announced in a lengthy post. Square Enix suspended the game's physical and digital sales in mid-December last year, because it was doing too well for what the company could handle at the time. People have had to wait hours to get in when they try to play at peak times, because the "dense concentration of play hours... far exceed [the game's] server capacity." Unfortunately, the developer wasn't able to add more servers before the Endwalker expansion was released due to the global semiconductor shortage.
In his post, Yoshida explained the steps the company is taking to address the game's high levels of congestion. To start with, Square Enix is bringing its Oceanian Data Center online also on January 25th and opening five new Worlds from the start so that everyone in Oceania can transfer over for a better experience. The world transfer service is currently suspended, but it will resume on January 26th — further, those transferring to the new Oceanian Worlds will be able to do so for free.
Yoshida has also revealed that Square Enix has been working on expanding its Japanese, European and North American data centers. The company explained that due to the global semiconductor shortage, it took some time to procure the needed components to be able to bring them online. In fact, it has to establish the new data centers in phases, because it's still having a tough time securing the necessary server equipment.
For North America, the first phase of the expansion will happen sometime in August 2022, and it will see four new Worlds go online. The second phase will be implemented in the summer of 2023 and will open four more Worlds. For Japan, the developer plans to add one more logical data center to the current three in order to lower the number of Worlds for each of them. The European expansion will also happen in two phases, the first of which is scheduled for July 2022 and will bring four new Worlds online. In the summer of 2023, Square Enix will establish one new logical data center with eight new Worlds in Europe.
"Once again, I wish to apologize for the delays to server expansion caused by the global semiconductor shortage," Yoshida wrote. He also asked for players' understanding in resuming sales of the game, even though some may consider the decision to be premature. Square Enix will monitor server stability following the resumption of sales and could restart free trials if everything goes well. However, in case servers "continue to experience extreme levels of congestion" despite all the steps it's taking, the developer may consider suspending digital sales once again.