Editor's note: I keenly remember the first time the minimum specs ruined my excitement for a game. It was 1994. The game was TIE Fighter. And I couldn't run it on my then powerful PC. It was the first time I uttered "F*** Lucas" in my life (though that would change after The Phantom Menace). And considering the specs of Derek's PC, I don't blame him for blogging about his frustration. PC gamers: Do you remember the first time minimum specs ruined your excitement for a game? -Jason
One thousand, three hundred and twenty four: This number may not mean anything to you right now, but keep it in the back of your mind and as you read on.
While I’ve never been a dedicated hardcore MMO player, I have given more than a couple a shot. In addition to paying for World of Warcraft, Guild Wars (initial purchase anyway), and Final Fantasy 11, I’ve also participated in the betas for Neo Steam and The Lord of the Rings Online.
So Square Enix's announcement of Final Fantasy 14 at E3 2009 piqued my interest. Although I didn’t have the best of experiences with the first Final Fantasy MMO, my love of the series and the promising-looking videos that have come out thus far are enough to make me want to give this one a shot.
Recently, I caught wind that Square had released a benchmark test for FF14 to gauge your PC's capability of running the game. I thought this was a bit odd since the “massively” part of MMOs rely on as many people running the game as possible, but with my recently upgraded computer I didn’t think there would be an issue. My new rig proudly sports an Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 1GB video card, more than enough to run any of the games I have downloaded so far on Steam.
The benchmark has you select a race for your “character” and then takes you through several cut-scenes, displaying frame rate and score in the lower left-hand corner so you can track your progress. Almost immediately the video began to stutter and chug; something was very wrong. Without waiting for the test to finish, I quit and restarted on the lower resolution setting, but without much change in the performance.
I let the test finish and consulted the chart on Square’s website. Over 8,000 is considered extremely high performance, while 3,000 is simply capable of running the game on default settings. My score? It's 1,324, which doesn't even reach the minimum of 1,500 for being able to run the game.
This revelation absolutely floored me. My 6-month-old media/gaming rig did not even meet the minimum specifications for a game that needs a large community around it in order to survive.
Any MMO these days, and for the foreseeable future, will have to immediately deal with a juggernaut in World of Warcraft and fight a desperate uphill battle for subscribers. One of the ways that WOW has been able to build such a large user base is by having a game that can play on almost any piece of computer equipment still functioning.
Granted, David probably could've done a lot of damage to Goliath had he brought boulders to the fight, but what good would they do if he couldn’t lift them? I cannot fathom something more akin to shooting yourself in the foot than splintering your potential community by requiring massive system specs to partake in your game.
From what has been showed thus far, Final Fantasy 14 is shaping up to be a beautiful game featuring lush environments and detailed characters. I might even go out on a limb and say it is the best-looking MMO that I’ve seen yet. Having a visually attractive game, however, doesn’t matter if only a small number of gamers are playing it.
I would gladly play a game that might have slightly lower resolution textures and solid game mechanics rather than needing to upgrade my almost brand-new computer in order to play something pretty. With a lot of time before FF14 release date (Sept. 22 for the PC special edition, Sept. 30 for the regular edition, and March 2011 for the PlayStation 3 version), Square still has the time to adjust requirements, because honestly, I would like to see this game do well.