Final Fantasy XIV‘s original launch in 2010 was considered to be a train-wreck to many, and was received negatively by critics across the board. It was certainly a pretty game, but had not much else going for it. According to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn‘s Director, graphics were the only thing Square Enix had on their mind when developing the game.
According to Director Naoki Yoshida, Square Enix was fixated on the success of their first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, and wanted to simply replicate that experience with way better graphics. In the end, the experience did not really mimic that of FFXI, and it was pretty, but that was it.
It is a good thing they were able to turn things around, and FFXIV: AR is probably the best example of a developer’s perseverance and devotion to fans.