Final Fantasy XIV and the Experience Cap

Final_Fantasy_XIVOne of the problems plaguing MMOs (and indeed all level-bases online games) is that players who have more time to dedicate to the game will outpace those of us who can only spare a few hours a week. This leads to some disparaging situations where overpowered players wipe the floor with other users in Player versus Player servers since they have the best gear and the stats to match. While some may decide that this is unfair, there’s really nothing the players themselves can do about it. Final Fantasy XIV, the upcoming fantasy MMO for the PlayStation 3 and the PC, is hoping to address this issue with the idea of diminishing returns.

The main way you progress in a Role Playing Games is through experience points, or EXP for short. It’s been this way since the dawn of gaming, and it’s not going to change any time soon. The more time you spend playing, the quicker you get points and the quicker you level up. With Final Fantasy XIV, this is going to change somewhat by limiting the amount of hours each week that you can earn one hundred percent of your experience. Basically, for eight hours of the week, you’ll get the full amount of EXP for quests and killing monsters. After that, though, your gains will start decreasing, eventually reaching a grand total of zero at the fifteen hour mark. This is on a weekly timer, so the experience clock resets every seven days. According to Square Enix, the idea behind this is that, in real life, no one could train at something for hours on end without reaching a plateau. Imagine lifting weights for eight hours a day? Eventually you’d run out of steam, and probably hurt yourself.

Naturally, this sort of artificial barrier is annoying MMO players, most of whom are dedicated to the point of playing more than eight hours a week. Think about it, if you played two hours a night, you’d be at the eight hour threshold before your knew it. An average World of Warcraft dungeon can take upwards of four hours, so this might be a problem in the making. The good news is that the EXP earned during the extra hours are banked as a surplus, but as of yet the developers don’t know what to do with them.

What do you guys think about this? I know we don’t have a lot of MMO players on the site, but as a former Star Wars Galaxies/World of Warcraft player myself, this limiting of player progression seems like it could hurt the game in the long run. I feel that, if you’re paying a subscription, you should play as long as you like with full returns, other players be damned. What do you think?

Update: I’ve read that this only affects up to fifteen hours of each job class, so it’s not an account wide restriction. Definitely better than the heavy-handed maneuver it seemed to be.

Source: FFXIV Core