The FFXIV Cruise Chaser Mount Reignites Debate Over Paid Cosmetics

Players consider whether the mount should be earned for free in-game instead.

A few weeks ago, Final Fantasy XIV dropped the highly anticipated Cruise Chaser mount for $30 on its Mog Station digital store. The mount, along with the recent influx of vocal World of Warcraft players, has reignited a debate over having to pay real money for items rather than earning them in the game.

As any FFXIV player knows, or frankly, anyone who has had to be around a FFXIV player knows, the game is about fashion. In the storyline, Eorzea is constantly threatened by armor-clad fascists and dragons the size of the moon, but what really matters to most players is how well their bunny girl or cat boy looks in the mirror. It’s a game about collecting armor and clothes, getting dressed up, and showing your character off to anyone willing to see them, whether they play the game or not.

Mounts are just another accessory that let you show off your accomplishments, be it via a chunky chocobo or Cloud’s motorcycle from Final Fantasy VII. Like a lot of MMOs, mounts serve a functional purpose of getting you around FFXIV’s massive world faster, but they’re also an opportunity to display your tastes. It’s why players will identify anything that looks like something they could ride and beg Square Enix to put it into the game.

Ever since the launch of the third section of the Alexander raid in 2016, players have wanted its steampunk mech boss to be obtainable as a mount. The Cruise Chaser — whose name is a reference to a 1986 Square Enix RPG — is notorious for its difficulty in the “Savage” version of the raid, prompting players to create animations that will make any veteran MMO player feel like something activated deep inside them. It also became a meme in the community. Players on forums and subreddits still reference the Limit Cut raid mechanic or sing “forward and back” from the excellent song that plays during the fight.

The demand for the Cruise Chaser mount grew more serious when it appeared in the PVP mode Rival Wings in 2017. In it, players on opposing sides were able to control it just like a mount and battle each other. Naturally, players believed this was evidence of it becoming a mount soon and they started to discuss how they’d be able to get it.

“I would love it sooo much to be able to obtain a Cruise Chaser mount!” one fan wrote in a 2017 thread on the official forums that has surprisingly been kept alive all of this time. “But it WOULDN’T be in the [Mog Station].”

FFXIV players have argued about what should and shouldn’t be in the game’s optional store ever since its inception. Although the Mog Station largely hosts purely cosmetic items like outfits, mounts, and potions to change your character’s race, many people still believe these should be rewards inside of the game. MMOs, like FFXIV, demand a lot of your time. These players want that to be recognized over simply opening their wallet.

When the Cruise Chaser mount was datamined from the game’s files earlier this year, the fervor behind discussions about how you’d earn the mount reached a peak. One of the prevailing theories was that it would be tied to a high rank in the game’s Feast PVP mode. The top 100 slots are only attainable by a small percentage of players, which many saw as a fitting nod to the mount’s history. But when Square Enix finally confirmed it would be exclusive to the Mog Station, the reactions were a mixture of relief, anger, and confusion over everyone’s differing expectations. You can see this pretty clearly in the replies of the official account’s tweet and on the subreddit. Some people were seething that Square Enix would make you pay for it, while others were simply glad to see it not be a PVP-centric reward.

Nobody can really decide on where it should have ended up, but quite a few fans think the Mog Station is an uninspired solution, at least to start. To them, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the mount released via an in-game event and then put on the Mog Station later.

“Personally, I would have preferred to see the mount be something earned in game through actual content, but Mog Station is not a bad alternative,” Long-time fan Tom Irwin tells Fanbyte. “It feels more satisfying to achieve cool items like mounts in game, and even if the content itself isn’t difficult, it gives you new content to play-something people crave in general, but especially in the lull before a new expansion.”

In response to the reactions of the mount’s release, game developer and fan of the game Mawile (she preferred to keep her real name confidential for privacy reasons) wrote a popular Twitter thread addressing people’s concerns about its place on the Mog Station and where the money from it goes. In the thread, Mawile explains the many ways the mount could have been released and why they aren’t fair to casual players. She specifically compares the Mog Station to WoW’s item shop, which has been the subject of criticism for years.

“My thread was to address my feelings about players wanting to gatekeep a highly anticipated item over prestige that players should have to ‘earn’ Cruise Chaser and how I feel that is a poisoned mindset that I’ve personally seen in WoW players,” she tells Fanbyte. “Some people would rather it be ‘free’ to 800 people spread across eight data centers, never to be earned again, because they feel ‘earning it’ is more important than accessibility.”

“I take a lot of issue with people saying it should be ‘earned’ somehow, because that mindset is unfair, elitist garbage. The most popular, iconic items should be the most accessible, not locked away to a select few.”

Mawile cites a comment from the game’s producer and director Naoki Yoshida where he explains how the Mog Station revenue funds development on features of the game, like new servers. There’s a sentiment among many FFXIV players that their money goes directly into enriching the game versus the pocket’s of Square Enix’s C-suite.

“As far as I’m concerned, the FFXIV team has never given us any reason to mistrust what they say on record at Fan Fest or in their Live Letters,” Mawile says. “They’ve been far more communicative than other game development teams about their intentions and decision processes. So when they say that profits from the cash shop helped fund the EU and Oceanic servers, I’m going to believe them.”

As Mawile mentions, WoW players are much more cynical about where that money goes. For years, many feel burned by Blizzard’s controversial cash shop items. They have not seen that revenue materialize in the game, or the developers at least acknowledge that it does. Many of these players recently fled to FFXIV in the wake of the game’s poor direction and Blizzard’s ongoing public reckoning with its own toxic workplace culture. As a result, the skepticism surrounding Square Enix’s intentions with the Mog Station is higher than it has been in the past.

“This got released at the point where some of WoW’s largest streamers are all playing FFXIV,” Ranor, a long-time FFXIV and WoW player, says. He preferred to keep his real name private. “So you have the pre-existing thing for FFXIV players who want more content to earn in-game or don’t wanna pay $30, which is just normal discourse. That would’ve happened regardless. But then you have streams that are garnering 30,000 people, 60,000 people, 100,000 plus people all coming from WoW — some of those streams being vocally anti-cash shops.”

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Many of the FFXIV players Fanbyte spoke to welcome the influx of WoW players and the discussions they’ve brought to the community. But it’s clear that the newcomers’ distrust for Blizzard doesn’t map as easily onto FFXIV. WoW and FFXIV are very different games. Cash shop items in Blizzard’s game are designed to expedite content you’ve already played to experience new character classes. FFXIV, on the other hand, is mostly about investing all of your time in one character who can swap classes whenever. Mog Station items feel more optional because the game only expects you to play through its required story content once.

MMOs like FFXIV and WoW have to be careful with what they offer on their real money item shops because their players often already pay a monthly subscription fee. Even though a mount isn’t the same as an item that lets you skip content that others had to play through, like WoW’s character boosts or FFXIV’s job boosts, it’s still seen as unfair for those without the cash to spend on it. After all, character progression, collecting gear, pets, and mounts are the reason you play these games.  

“It doesn’t impact me in any way,” Ranor says of FFXIV and WoW’s Mog Station items. “I’ve played both games since basically launch. I’ve been dealing with people who don’t know how to play their classes after 200+ hours since the dawn of time. Boosts didn’t change anything. Cash shop mounts don’t change the fact that I clear hard content before other people do or that I have hard to get things.”

FFXIV already has extremely difficult content with unique rewards. The Cruise Chaser fight itself is still difficult if you want to try it yourself. Though the legacy of the fight may not be fully carried through to how you obtain the mount, it still symbolizes an important piece of FFXIV’s history. And it aligns with the kind of relationship the game’s developers have with its players. In 2016, Yoshida recommended players take breaks and resubscribe when major content patches hit. In contrast, Blizzard will reward you with an exclusive mount for buying six months of game time in advance. FFXIV is a game that respects your time more than other MMOs. It’s probably why the most diehard fans were more concerned with how the Cruise Chaser would be earned rather than the ethics of it appearing on the Mog Station.

While writing this story, I wasn’t fully aware of the mount’s place in the game’s canon. A two-person mech that can also transform into a flying ship was enough to hook me in initially. It’s understandable that fans want Square Enix to acknowledge the Cruise Chaser’s history through a more specific method of earning it. At the same time, there are so many newer players like me who can appreciate what it represents and want to be a part of it all, too. $30 on the Mog Station isn’t the most elegant solution and it won’t satisfy everyone, but those who care deeply enough about the mount can finally own it — and those who just want a big, iconic mech can, too.

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Tyler Colp

Tyler Colp is a writer, podcaster, and streamer. He's been writing about games and pop culture for years. Ask him anything about Dark Souls.

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14 Comments

  1. Wow, lol, there so many babies that cry for a mount lol! First its only a game and second if your not happy leave the game, its sample as that!

  2. When you’re already paying for the base game, expansions and a hefty subscription fee it is insulting to add microtransactions on top of all that.

  3. However you want to dress it up, the mog station is a microtransaction store. I struggle to understand how you can dismiss what you can buy there as “optional” and “just cosmetics” when FFXIV is a game where self expression is such a key part of the gameplay. Whether some of the money earned is reinvested into the game or not doesn’t change the fact that it comes from a system that is inherently predatory to customers, in particular the neurodivergent.

    It is not elitest to want an ingame item to be earned in game and becoming a high level PvP reward available to a small group of players is not the only way to accomplish this. It could have been a quest reward, or a crafted item, or one you could buy with an in game currency from a vendor – There are loads of options. Earned in game does not mean it has to be a prestigious item, and if the goal is to make it accessible there are plenty of options that will better accomplish that than the store. The mount has been priced highly and some simply won’t have the money lying around for it, not to mention any young people that happen to be playing. There shouldn’t be anyone celebrating or attempting to justify this item being in a store rather than obtainable in some way in the game we are paying for.

  4. I feel it needs to be added somewhere in the article that the $30 for Cruise Chaser is a) because it’s a two-seater mount, but also very importantly b) because it is ACCOUNT-WIDE as opposed to being a single-character item. Any alts created until the game is shut down (hopefully far into the future) will receive it as well.

  5. FFXIV is by far, a early better community than WoW’s will ever be. I get it “cash shop”, but without it, the EU servers would still be 4hr queue times just to play. Aether data center on NA servers wouldn’t be getting more space. Saying Mog Station is just as toxic as elitism is just straight up delirium. The devs actually pump revenue back into thos game unlike Activision ever would with WoW/Blizzard. The community getting an influx of this toxic crap storm from the WoW kids is the problem. I played WoW and still play 14. I can say this, WoW’s community shifting over. I will welcome you, but if you ruin this game with toxicity. Go to a different one. The issue isn’t the cash shop. It is immature brats coming from other games. Sorry, not sorry.

  6. Pvp reward is the last thing I want it to be. Look up win trading in ffxiv and see how those top players basically cheat their accounts(and their alts) to the top.
    I dont like the mog station either but at least everyone has a chance at getting it instead of it being unobtainable after a pvp season.

  7. …You have got to be kidding me. A good portion of the mounts were obtainable IN GAME!!! Are there glamor items in game? Yes! So, it’s completely optional. No debate needed.

    1. There is a reason it’s so much. The mount is a two person mount. There aren’t many mounts that are for more than one person.

      The second reason is its an account wide mount. They are always more than a single character mount. If you were to make a new character in say two years. That mount will be accessible to you on the new one.

  8. Wow has had mounts you earn thought achievements and others that come from the blizzard store. So what if FF14 does the same thing. Some of the mounts on the mog station are multi person mounts, so not really an appearance thing. The whole mount carries a full 8 player party, for example.

  9. “I take a lot of issue with people saying it should be ‘earned’ somehow, because that mindset is unfair, elitist garbage. The most popular, iconic items should be the most accessible, not locked away to a select few.” I understand this opinion but gating content behind a paywall isn’t better. Like there isn’t one side that is more correct but paying for cosmetic content in a game you are already paying monthly for is just as toxic as being an elitist if not more so because it has an actual real world impact on peoples wallets. The issue I take is FFXIV stans acting like the team and creators are completely beyond reproach just because they are supposedly better than other mmo teams. Yes Yoshida Naoki is good at his job. FFXIV can still be manipulative and still has problematic content. I love FFXIV but like everything fans are not reasonable people

    1. ???? “Like there isn’t one side that is more correct but paying for cosmetic content in a game you are already paying monthly for is just as toxic as being an elitist if not more so because it has an actual real world impact on peoples wallets” “I love FFXIV but like everything fans are not reasonable people” Pay for what you want. But if you can’t control what comes out of your wallet, we’ll thats on you son.

      1. We get tons of content in 14 that is earnable by various achievements and grinds, and the sub fee is nominal for the content the devs push out regularly. Why should we begrudge Square for the occasional cash shop mount that brings in a little more revenue that can be reinvested into the game we love?

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