Enthusiasm is no replacement for considered thought and proper planning. Just because an idea sounds good on paper doesn’t mean it actually works; sometimes, it can only make things worse. As Final Fantasy XIV has shown, planning is the difference between being an Elidibus and being an Emet-Selch. It’s a lesson that the folks behind the in-game FFXIV nightclub called Rain are currently learning.
The club lives on the Balmung server, which is infamous for its unique flavors of role-playing events that run almost every evening. For July 9, the club’s organizers had a huge beach party planned. Given the upcoming event and the release of Patch 6.18, they decided to go all out and put up billboards in the real-world to advertise it.
The idea of advertising an in-game event in the real-world could have paid off, increasing the visibility of the in-game nightclub and FFXIV. Financially, it made sense to the organizers as well.
“I giveaway more things to the community off the [in-game store] in two weeks than this whole billboard thing cost us, and we are also still doing all those giveaways at the same time,” club co-owner Revarious told USA Today’s ForTheWin. “We just happen to have a lot of very amazing people at Rain where we can do these things and giveaways for the community.”
They paid for a number of billboard advertisements to go up in Texas and California. Two of the Texas-bound billboards actually went live in Austin and Houston, prompting a week that looked to be all about faulty Data Center Travel and a touching tribute from the FFXIV community to take a riotous turn.
First, the billboard contained a link to their Discord, which isn’t smart in the best of times. That’s basically inviting absolutely anyone to join, including any trolls and malcontents who just want to watch your enterprise burn to the ground. The Discord server had to go read-only after just such a flood happened.
“So what if we made a billboard, you don’t have to look at it, you don’t even have to come to our party, but for that to be a reason you go after people that weren’t even involved with the idea for it is really sad,” Revarious wrote in a message on the Discord before the lockdown happened. “I really hope the portion of you all who came here to troll ignore us and go back to whatever it is you actually like doing since we aren’t it.”
Given that the Discord was posted, it also wasn’t difficult for many to find the official Rain website and thus the location of the Free Company house for the event organizers. People came en masse, milling outside the house and spamming it with Magitek mount cannons. The official Rain website has also been taken down.
Reporting in live at the FC house responsible for the #FFXIV Billboard ad in Balmung!
We have tanks shooting directly at the house, Shibas barking loudly, Afro haired dudes stating that the pool is closed, while people are kept hostage inside the private mansion… It's crazy! ???? pic.twitter.com/yUYJ1Y8Wpk
— Pathra (@Pathra) July 6, 2022
Third, the billboard itself falls afoul of so many problems in terms of legality and FFXIV’s terms of service. First, the Final Fantasy XIV logo, trademarked by Square Enix, was prominently placed on the billboard. Even the player characters are technically owned by the publisher in a legal sense.
Beyond that, the characters are posed using third-party tools, using clothing that hasn’t actually been released in the game itself yet. The clothes are equipment that’s supposedly meant to be rewards from the upcoming Moonfire Faire event. This comes two months after FFXIV creative director and lead producer Naoki Yoshida reiterated the team’s stance on third-party tools and datamining.
“Now, be it graphical resources or something else, there may be legal ramifications for mining private data via illicit means with the intent to make it public,” wrote Yoshida at the time. “As a show of our admiration for those who clear ultimate raids, we design their reward weapons to be as eye-catching as possible, and to widely spread their images outside of the game could diminish players’ motivation to earn them. I’ve made this request before, and I make it again: please refrain from disseminating mined data.”
It doesn’t get more public than a real-world billboard.
So the FFXIV community has had a field day with the entire situation. Not only have players already started to make fun of the situation in general, but a new meme format has definitely borne from the ashes of Rain’s folly.
— InFamousHero (@Khanlusa) July 5, 2022
so how about that ffxiv billboard huh pic.twitter.com/6viugSMA5I
— Cadbur (@Cadbur_) July 5, 2022
Cease and Desist (Ultimate)-Billboard Strat
— Veridis Arpegius (@VeridisArpegius) July 6, 2022
The organizers behind the event spoke to mega-Twitch streamer Asmongold about the entire situation earlier today. According to Revarious, the billboard in Houston was $50 a day and the one in Austin was $160 a day. The pair dodged the use of add-ons and datamined assets in the conversation, calling it a “grey area.”
That’s a decent chunk of change to pay for an advertisement that will be utterly mystifying for the average person driving by that location. For those behind the billboards, it’s likely that Rain blowing up online was the intended consequence. Unfortunately, it did so in the worst way possible.
As a result, some folks tangentially involved with the event have quickly distanced themselves from it. The original photo came from the Twitter account of DJ Potate, a web DJ who was helping out with the event. Her account has since gone protected. Popular Vtuber Spofie, who focuses much of her content on FFXIV, took to Twitter to air her frustrations with Rain. Apparently, the owners asked her to attend the event, stating it would be family-friendly. That was a statement the owners reiterated in the interview above.
The Balmung server has also been seeing a bit of spillover. Currently, the server has an army of Miqo’te lancers standing in front of the main Aetheryte for server transfers. This is more symbolic than anything, as players can simply walk through each other. Regardless, Balmung is currently hopping.
The billboards have apparently been removed already and everything related to Rain is temporarily closed off. It’s a testament to their folly that the situation even got this far. Truly, they became the Warriors of Darkness of their own tale: “We made our choice, and you see what came of it. So please… forge a different path. Seize a better fate.”