A brief rundown of the bizarre Final Fantasy XIV billboard situation

Final Fantasy XIV Metaverse

Mods, buns, and one big sign

If you follow any account tangentially related to Final Fantasy or the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, you may have seen some recent ruckus about a billboard. Maybe about role-players, nightclubs, or a wall of cat-girls.

It’s been a heck of a few days in the world of Final Fantasy XIV. But for those who maybe don’t play, or aren’t so plugged into the community, we’ve put together an explainer of what is going on with that billboard.

Much ado about a billboard

As best we can track back, it starts with an event being held in-game by Rain Nightclub. Player housing in Final Fantasy XIV is very customizable, allowing players and Free Companies (XIV‘s guilds) to design all kinds of cool locales. These range from simple homes to full-on aquariums and yes, nightclubs, where players can dance and show off their fashion to DJs’ tunes. You can find a great look into the nuts and bolts of that scene over at Prima Games.

The upcoming event, the Summer Bash, is presumably set to be hosted on July 9 at one of the plots on Crystal’s Balmung server. Since Patch 6.18 dropped, players are also now able to move not just between servers in their own data center, but over to other data centers too. So my character, who’s on Primal’s Ultros, could go to Crystal and visit Balmung. The potential for more foot traffic gets higher with this option available.

In order to promote the event, Rain Nightclub didn’t just take to social media or the in-game finder. It also bought some billboards. Two, to be exact, went up in Texas. You can find a picture of one, taken by one of the event’s planned DJs in a now-deleted tweet, below (courtesy of PC Gamer):

Final Fantasy XIV billboard

While nightclubs often use different mediums to promote events, including Discord, Twitter, and in-game tools like the Party Finder, a billboard is a little extra. Two billboards went live, in Austin and Houston, and two more were planned to go up in California. Then the plan changed.

Sign of the times

Up to this point, this is all just a novelty. Sure, most virtual clubs in Final Fantasy XIV don’t advertise events on real-life signs, but there’s a spirit to this I can appreciate. The community, however, had some issues with it.

For one, using characters and logos from Final Fantasy XIV—seemingly without Square Enix’s sign-off—could be problem enough.

But as Fanbyte’s Linkshell details, the advertisement also utilizes some third-party tools. Someone who doesn’t play Final Fantasy XIV, or doesn’t stay up-to-date on current glam trends, might not notice. But some of those clothes are, potentially, upcoming rewards from an event that haven’t been released in-game yet.

Mods and third-party tools are a touchy subject in Final Fantasy XIV. Square Enix has been cracking down on them hard recently, sending players to an in-game jail after streaming with visible mods. XIV director and producer Naoki Yoshida posted a lengthy blog about third-party tools earlier this year, saying:

“As stated in the terms of service for Final Fantaxy XIV: the use of third-party tools is strictly prohibited. Players who are determined to be using third-party tools will have their accounts suspended, or permanently banned for repeat offenses.”

Streaming is one thing, but putting it on a billboard is probably also not a great idea.

Additionally, Rain Nightclub reportedly advertised some erotic role-playing services. (We could not verify this ourselves, as the site is currently down for soon-to-be obvious reasons, so we’re going off PC Gamer’s report here.) As one Vtuber who was invited to the party points out, there’s some messaging issues there.

The internet gets involved

So, at this point, the community is also on pins and needles about third-party tools. And then a billboard puts it all on blast. You can probably start to fill in the blanks from here.

Some of it started out in good-natured fun and ribbing. Some light-hearted, in-universe jokes and one extremely well-done meme video.

But the combination of brazenly broadcasting things that are touchy subjects and the locations where you congregate? Well, chaos ensued. Players flooded into Balmung, onto the advertised Discord, and anywhere else Rain Nightclub was.

This includes in-game, as data center travel was open for anyone to rubberneck the situation. Balmung, which already attracts a lot of curiosity due to it being a notorious role-playing server, suddenly had players flocking in. Resident catigirls formed a phalanx at the Aetheryte Plaza in Ul’dah, to ward off incoming observers.

And the nightclub in question soon also saw flocks of onlookers.

The fallout

It wasn’t long until the billboards were pulled, the site was taken offline, and everything dropped out. Speaking to USA Today’s FTW, one of the club’s owners Revarious said Square Enix has not been in contact with them. Rather, the billboards were taken down following the community’s response, saying they didn’t want to “stress anyone else in the community out about them staying up and forcing Square Enix’s hand on the matter.” He also claims the cost of the billboards was not in the thousands of dollars, as some have speculated, but hired on a day rate for “$160 total.”

Revarious also expressed concern about some of the harassment, especially towards one of the DJs. “I think the worst part about all this is one of the DJs is getting attacked, and it really makes me sad,” Revarious told USA Today. “She isn’t part of Rain nightclub or the billboard design idea. We only requested her to play songs for our party.”

So the community got in an uproar, servers were flooded, and everyone who uses a mod or third-party tool in Final Fantasy XIV is nervously waiting for Square Enix to do something. It’s a pretty bizarre situation overall, even for the world of Final Fantasy XIV, all thanks to a few billboards.

Eric Van Allen