I haven't had a chance to use a classy journalistic title in a while, but it seemed this news deserved it. I found out both in email and via Lodestone: Hiromichi Tanaka is stepping down from the lead producer role in Final Fantasy XIV and Naoki Yoshida will be taking over. A bunch of other positions may or may not have been changed. Along with this shift, the free trial will be continued until further notice and the PS3 release has been delayed past March 2011.
The first think that popped into my mind was: how long will it be delayed? Obviously, they want to fix up FFXIV before releasing the PS3 version, but I thought that the game could be more-or-less fixed into a playable format before March. If the PS3 version is delayed, that means it'll take more than 3 months to make the game viable, which means at least 3 more months of free trial but at least 3 more months of poor-quality agony. It would be my guess that, at this point, Square Enix just wants to take dates off the table and focus on making the game work well.
As far as what changes we'll see with this new direction, that's a whole other kettle of fish. I'm still arguing strongly in favour of replacing the Market Wards with a proper Marketplace system, as I've argued in my Gamasutra Article on MMORPG Economies. I'd also like to see changes in other parts of the game... but I haven't really spent a lot of time developing those ideas yet. One of my biggest fears, conversely, is that the game gets oversimplified. In EQ2, backlash against the complex crafting system caused it to be reduced to an extremely simple and banal mechanic; I'd hate to see FFXIV's rich and diverse economic backbone be trashed in the attempt to fix the game.
In any case, more updates as they come. I'll see if I can get a few questions out to Naoki, but with the holidays fast approaching and the chaos no doubt surrounding the new changes, I'm not getting my hopes up.