June 23 marked the release of the first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV, called Heavensward, but it also signified that the popular online game would be making its way to a third platform — the Mac. However, after less than two weeks and numerous complaints about the game and its new port, Square Enix is now offering refunds to those who bought the game for Mac and will also temporarily suspend sales of the Mac version until the problem is fixed.
Speaking via the game's forums, producer and director Naoki Yoshida stated that the reason for the issues was the release of incorrect system requirements for Mac users. Yoshida said that development on the client was ongoing right up to the release date, with constant improvements to the game. However, the system requirements were still unavailable to developers. This made the team nervous, so they developed several versions of the game to fit multiple system requirements. When the correct version was finally available, they could easily launch the game from one of the pre-made versions.
In addition to last-minute improvements, there was also the issue of making Heavensward ready for all three platforms. In a sense, the team doubled down on getting both the Mac version as well as Heavensward ready for their simultaneous release. You can imagine how hectic the office would be under those circumstances.
This eventually led to the release of incorrect specs, which were not updated for the final Mac version. In addition, the team was supposed to conduct maintenance on the game on the release date to address some final issues on the Mac version. However, another miscommunication occurred between Square Enix and retailers, so some players had access to the Mac version before the fixes, leading to poor in-game performance.
For Square Enix, the Mac is still uncharted territory, as the company has only released one title as a native port (Deus Ex: Human Revolution). Development for Windows is a far cry for developing on the Mac platform, because Windows uses the DirectX API for games and the Mac uses OpenGL, although that performance gap could change soon with Apple's Metal API.
With Final Fantasy XIV displaying an overwhelming number of elements on the screen, including monsters, multiple characters, environment and animations, the demand on the system can be taxing. Yoshida even said that the team expected a performance gap of about 30 percent in the Mac version when using OpenGL versus the Windows version.
If you are one of the many Mac players who want to get a refund, you can fill out a form if you bought the game from the Square Enix online store. If you bought it from other retailers, you can fill out a consultation form for Square Enix. Otherwise, you can still keep playing the game on the Mac.
Square Enix is using the same strategy as WB Games, which pulled sales of the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight days after its release due to a multitude of performance issues. The Final Fantasy XIV team, just like Arkham Knight’s development team Rocksteady, is quickly nipping the problem in the bud and fixing it as fast as possible. Yoshida didn’t provide a date for when sales of the Mac version would resume, but the team will put out an announcement with the updated and final specs when the problem is resolved.