— Square Enix

Over the last decade, Final Fantasy XIV has transformed from a colossal failure to one of the most played games in the entire world. It’s been a long wait, but the massive MMORPG finally arrived on Xbox at the end of March, and what should have been a natural addition to FFXIV’s ecosystem has turned out to be anything but that. Unique problems exclusive to Xbox have popped up, because of the platform’s automated moderation systems, resulting in player bans, illegible chats, and more. It’s made an already contentious launch even more frustrating.

Note: Inverse has reached out to Square Enix for comment, but hasn’t received a response as of the time of writing.

Dozens of posts have popped up on social media platforms, showing users struggling with how Xbox’s automated moderation systems, specifically with the in-game text chat for FFXIV. On Reddit, one user made a post saying their Xbox account had been banned after looking for a Free Company, which was flagged as solicitation. In FFXIV, Free Company is the official in-game term for the game’s guilds, or groups, that players can form. Two updates and five days later, the user says their account is still banned, but the issue is being “looked into.”

On X (formerly Twitter), other players are reporting bans for similar reasons, like @BishamonVeena who says they were banned for trying to help recruit players to a Free Company.

Apart from this, Xbox’s word filter has been wreaking havoc on text chat in the game. While some words being removed makes sense, this is even applying to automated notifications likes using emotes. In the screenshot below, provided by @blamite on X, the word filter has seemingly removed the letters “std” from “harvest dance.”

“At Xbox, our multifaceted approach to safety requires a robust set of technologies and tools that give us content moderation at scale,” said Microsoft Gaming trust and safety vice president Kim Kunes, “Language that is acceptable to one player or within a specific scenario may not be welcome to another or in a different context, and it is sometimes difficult for automated tools to capture these nuances alone. Our current efforts seek to combine the importance of human oversight with the introduction of AI in the pursuit of creating safer gaming experiences.”

There are dozens of examples of words being removed cropping up, which could be catastrophic for an MMO that so heavily relies on its text chat, and even censors some words from the game itself, like “Thanalan.” Even simple, commonly used MMO-specific terms like “lfg,” meaning looking for group, are seemingly being censored.

This makes some conversations illegible, interferes with how the game uses the chat box in storytelling, and could even affect player macros (pre-set inputs that simplify a complex string of actions into a button press). Macros display in the text chat when used, and are often implemented for high-level content like raids.

As for the reason behind these problems, it likely stems from a big change Microsoft made last year. In November 2023, Xbox announced many of its safety systems would now be powered by Community Sift, a moderation tool created by a Microsoft subsidiary called TwoHat. It was a step taken to cut down on vulgar content and “inauthentic” accounts across the platform. It’s also in line with most of the company’s moderation systems becoming automated, and less of a focus on human customer service. In January 2024, Microsoft announced nearly 1900 layoffs, which included the majority of the customer service team of Activision Blizzard.

Digging back a little, players in other games like Rocket League and Ark: Survival Ascended, have also complained about problems with chat moderation.

The core difference, of course, is while you might be able to largely ignore text chat in other games, that’s simply not the case with FFXIV. It might also just be dumb luck that many of FFXIV’s terms and slang are running into issues. Then, of course, there’s the massive player base of the game, which makes finding these issues more likely.

These issues could potentially make FFXIV on Xbox a far more frustrating experience than on any other platform, none of which has had any of these issues. It’s also compounded by the experience of even starting up the game on Xbox platforms.

To play FFXIV on Xbox you need a subscription to the game ($14.99 monthly) as well as an Xbox Live subscription($10 monthly). On every other platform, all you need is a FFXIV subscription.

On top of this, Xbox has introduced a new currency called “FFXIV Coins.” These coins must be bought in order to make any kind of in-game purchase, like buying additional retainers. However, the coins are also region-restricted. For most, this won’t be a problem, but say if you’re playing in the North American region of FFXIV, and have a European account on your Xbox: the FFXIV Coins you buy wouldn’t work on your version of FFXIV.

At every turn, it feels like FFXIV on Xbox has been made agonizingly more frustrating to play, and it’s baffling how it all seems to have gone so wrong. At FFXIV FanFest in Las Vegas in 2023, Microsoft gaming head Phil Spencer came out on stage to make the announcement that the game was coming to Xbox. It was treated as a big deal, and at the time it seemed like both parties were committed. It’s not exactly clear where things have gone wrong, but something definitely needs to change.

Final Fantasy XIV is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Update 6:08PM: This article has been updated with comment from Microsoft.

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