Even after the amazing sales of Final Fantasy X, Square refuses to rest on its laurels, deciding, instead, to begin the hype-machine for Final Fantasy XI, the company's first foray into MMORPGs. After picking I-O Data as the network's Modem Developer of Choice, Square continued the barrage of information by uncovering its plans for getting their PlayOnline network up and running.
Square hopes to begin the first stage of test operations for PlayOnline in mid-September with a select 500 players chosen to test the network's server. The second stage would begin in October with a final stage of playtesting Final Fantasy XI to begin in December, two months before the title's estimated official launch of March 2002. The PlayOnline network will be available for both Windows and Macintosh and, of course, any Playstation 2 with the recently released hard disk drive installed. Although the exact cost of the service is currently unavailable, Square's server will be free of charge during its first month of availability before moving to a pay-per-play structure in April.
Besides FFXI, gamers who use PlayOnline will be treated to an online version of Tetra Master, the card battle minigame of Final Fantasy IX. In addition to playing the highly addictive card game against human opponents, gamers will be able to trade cards online and post their high scores to a ranking page. Although Enix and Namco have been reported as developing future content for the new network (Dragon Warrior Online?)no further details on their online gaming content have been released.
The first trailer video of Final Fantasy XI is currently available in Japan on The Other Side of Final Fantasy DVD, which shipped with FFX yesterday.