Square Enix has just announced that they plan on extending the initial free month for Final Fantasy XIV subscribers for another month, as a response to the feedback from players. This is definitely a good move and will certainly put a kink in the gears of all those "we're all canceling in protest" plans that would have left Eorzea empty on October 21st. Square Enix also directly addressed many of the concerns players have, acknowledging the issues and promising to fix them.
The fixes are wide-ranging and cover most of the issues that have been brought up by both players and reviewers. They plan adjustments to the user interface, which many players (probably those who didn't play FFXI) have issues with. They're also going to be balancing and fleshing out the game, especially in regards to party-based play. Adding a shortcut for replies, adding position info to maps and chat, making it possible to target party members from the party list... the list is fairly comprehensive.
With one glaring omission: they're not scrapping the Market Ward system.
Oh no, they're going full-bore with that full-of-fail feature. Squeenix has continually failed to address the fundamental flaws of the Market Wards, and today's maintenance fix has done nothing whatsoever to improve things.
If you read my Full Review you'd know that market wards are basically mass jumbles of random NPCs with all manner of junk for sale. Squeenix had the idea that if they re-named the wards to fit certain types of goods and offered a slight discount on the sales tax if the right item was sold in the right ward, this would somehow clean up the market and make it usable.
They couldn't be farther from reality.
Start off with the fact that players are, by and large, stupid, and won't pay any attention to the new nomenclature. The first ward on the list, the battlecraft ward, is still the one that's completely full of retainers selling whatever junk you can imagine. There's no sense at all that you'll go in there and only find weapons for sale. Most retainers there don't have any weapons at all to sell! It's just the first ward on the list, so that's where all the people go by default and stick their retainers.
Now for the more reasoned argument. Final Fantasy XIV features one of the richest and most interesting crafting systems with thousands of components to produce hundreds of items. Most players trade in many of these in order to be successful. Most of these, of course, fall in completely different market ward categories.
For producers of goods, the new system of market wards does nothing at all to help. Consider an alchemist, who might produce Linseed Oil (an oil, chirugen's ward), Rubber Soles (a footwear part, tanner's ward), Cornmeal (a grain, grocer's ward), Copper Dust (an unrefined metal, ironmonger's ward), and a Blinding Dagger (a gladiator weapon, battlecraft ward). If a player wants to be a master alchemist, which ward do they sell in? FAIL!
What about a purchaser? If someone wants to buy the components to craft Bronze Chainmail, they need to buy a hempen tabard (attire, clothier's ward), bronze chain/rings (metal, ironmonger's ward), and sheep leather (leather, tanner's ward). I'm sure there are other recipes that would force players to go to four or more wards to find the components they need! FAIL!
And it still does nothing to address the issue where you have to have something in order to place a buy order to buy it. You still can't buy anything you don't already have. EPIC FAIL!
Not to mention that there's still no search method to find things. The only effect this change had on anyone was the people using sites like YG to manage their retainers; now that the wards have changed all their names, people have to re-update their retainers. Yay, another little hassle!
Anyhow, Square Enix really needs to get their heads out of their asses in regards to their economic model. Please: scrap the market wards and implement a proper open market model. Copy EVE Online's system, it's great. If you don't want to copy a good system, copy a sucky one like WoW's AH or EQ2's broker. Heck, even bring back the horrible FFXI AH - the very same people complained so much about that it drove you to build this stupid market ward system in the first place - even that craptastic market is better than this!
Well... back to "enjoying" my free month(s) ;)