Pre-ordering digitally distributed games is dumb. It’s dumb, but I do it anyway sometimes for various dumb reasons. In the case of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, getting to play the expansion content four days early is part of the pre-order bonus package. And, well, you can’t afford to waste any time hopping on that gear treadmill.
I got my pre-order bonus codes the day I ordered the expansion on Amazon. They don’t do anything until Square decides to mail out the bonus items a little before early access starts, but I still applied them to my account as soon as I got them because why wouldn’t I? And then I was all sorted until early access started June 16th, right?
Nope, ’cause Amazon sent me my estimated delivery date yesterday.
Yep. That’s a week after release. Shouldn’t the point of pre-ordering something be that you’re guaranteed to get it on time? Anyway, if it was just getting the game a week late that might be okay I guess. I’d be a little behind on gearing by the time raids open in a month or so, but it would probably be fine, save the immense disappointment. But because I have early access applied to my account, I get to play Stormblood content for four days, and then lose it for a week.
This doesn’t just mean I lose access to the new areas and the new classes, for that week I would lose access to every character on my account with a point of experience over level 60 or one of the two new classes unlocked, effectively making the game unplayable for 6 – 10 days.
So I cancelled my pre-order and re-ordered the digital version of the expansion directly from Square Enix’s online store, getting another pre-order bonus code in the process. My original pre-order bonuses were still attached to my game account though, so I contacted Square Enix about that, unsure of what to do with the new codes.
The system’s default reaction to somebody cancelling a pre-order is to immediately ban the account and make the user fight with a cumbersome customer service process to get it back? Why? It’s not like filing a credit card chargeback on my subscription after I’ve already played for the month. I haven’t actually gained anything yet from the cancelled pre-order. If Amazon requests my early access be revoked there’s surely nothing stopping Square Enix from silently removing it from my account.
Isn’t this policy just wildly consumer unfriendly?
Anyway, I did end up calling Amazon and asking them how they would handle my cancellation, which had already taken far more of my time than it should have. Fortunately Amazon isn’t vindictive about that $40 I wont be giving them and I was informed that they didn’t give enough of a crap to revoke my pre-order bonuses and that they weren’t losing anything by letting me keep them.
And that’s how I discovered how horrifyingly flawed Final Fantasy XIV’s account management system is. I also spent more time that was warranted getting to play a game early during a four day period in which the game servers are most likely to be on fire.