It appears that Square is about to make do on their promises. Square Enix just announced that between late November and early December, more than a year after the game's spectacularly failed launch, the free-to-play period will come to an end. Final Fantasy XIV's 2.0 version will be released next year, featuring numerous changes that will, according to Square Enix, make the game what it should've been when released. "I promise that we will continue to give all FINAL FANTASY XIV players our full attention as we do everything in our power to provide a high-quality service, and as such, would like ask for your continued encouragement and support," says Yoshida. It has also been reported that, in the year leading up to the 2.0 patch, existing players will expirience a new story leading up to the huge change that will effect the world of Eorzea.
I have... mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it's great to see Square taking responsibility and acting to improve upon their failures. They're trying to appease fans with XIII-2, and now they're doing it here with XIV Online. XIV also has a lot of good stuff in it already- the class sytem is fun and unique, and the world and lore are, as always, very well-thought out and interesting. Also, the recent V.1 patches have made significant improvements, actually making the game playable when compared to it's wretched launch state. On the other hand, in the MMO market, this game has been in a terrible state for more than a year. I highly doubt that it will make a significant dent in the MMO market, especially when it has a subscription fee, meaning inevitable competition with World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Square lost a TON of money on this project already, and I want them to suceed. I feel that, in order to truly salvage XIV, making it a free-to-play game with microtransactions (similar to Lord of the Rings Online or Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach) would help recoup a lot more of their losses than mantaining a subscription-based system and selling the Collectors edition for $20. XIV had and still has potential, but they need to do more than apologize for the poor state of the game at launch- they need to win back old players, as well as attract new ones. And I don't see how that will happen.
We'll see. If the game turns out ok, I might pick up the PS3 version (which they claim to still be working on) when it comes out. Hopefully Square can get their act together and deliver the quality game we all know they can make.
EDIT: There appears to be some confusion. FFXIV's patch 2.0 comes out next year, but the storyline changes leading up too it, as well as the subscription fees, start this year in late November.