I really do like Final Fantasy XIV. In fact, I love playing it. I came from playing Final Fantasy XI since 2005, and I was used to logging in and seeing at least ten people in the Linkshell (guild), meaning there was always people to play with.
I started playing FFXIV in beta. It was a wonderful experience, except for the whole my-computer-can-barely-run-it-on-low thing, as well as the lack of content and an auction house. We all played it for awhile, but eventually people dropped out. I stopped playing when they wanted people to start paying for it. I never made it very far, mostly because of hardware issues.
When A Realm Reborn (2.0) came out, I heard about all the great things that had been fixed. The story, auction houses, and how they lowered the graphics engine so my computer could easily play it on low now. I jumped in and pre-ordered FFXIV:ARR and all my friends got into it as well.
We did leveling and questing parties, and we progressed together quite nicely. Until I was left behind. I play casually. I don't like playing all the time, every day, as much as possible. I like to do other things during the week as well, like playing FFXI for instance.
Once again, eventually people started quitting. Then the Free Company died. So I did things on my own, slowly. I had a couple of friends that would come on and help me through dungeons, but it was really on their schedule. I eventually found a new FC and then made some more friends. This came in waves, you see. What was once an archipelago of activity, with lots of people on and ready to do things, had turned into a dull ocean. The low tide was between patches. With not many people online, it was hard to get through story dungeons unless I wanted to go through Duty Finder with randoms, but I really didn't want to do that. The high tides just before and after a new patch brought some good activity though. That's when I was able to get more people from the LS' and Free Company to help me with story dungeons. I did other quests inbetween, but it was a slow progress.
Nearing the release of Heavensward, everyone was on. It made it much easier for me to catch up to the end of ARR, so I could watch all the trailers for HW. Everyone was still on, so it made it easier and go by quicker. Then HW came out, and lots of people came back. I progressed as I could, but was kind of burnt out already since I spent so much time trying to get to HW.
For the last several months, people have been dropping like flies. They only seemed to care about endgame and it was boring to them. Rushing through all of HW and then not having much to do. I still went through and was doing all my little quests and missions. I put all the dungeon quests on the back burner. I took a month off because I moved. When I came back, I had discovered my FC had broken up. Most of my friends from that FC quit or moved off the server. So, as a casual player, I had no FC, and two friends on Sargatanas that still played the game. As my tank friend told me, a lot of the veteran high level players refuse to do the lower story dungeons, mostly because the same reasons I have about doing dungeons with randoms. No one "good" does them anymore, because they are full of "newbs" and "terrible" players. According to him, anyway.
So that makes it difficult. One of my good friends came back on a free weekend, but hadn't finished ARR yet. So I helped her get through stories and dungeons, and then we hit one of the dungeons tank guy warned me about: Midgardsormr. It took a bit to find a party, but it wasn't very good. Apparently tank friend was right. We did end up getting through it after disbanding and reforming with a new party.
The free weekend ended, and everyone left again. I'm by myself in Ishgard again. My first FC came back to life, so I joined them again, excited to see more people online. Then, no one. Then.. no one. Everyone was gone. Maybe one or two people on whenever I log in. I asked my tank friend and other friend to come online and help me with some dungeons, but he informed me that the both of them had stopped playing before the patch came out. All I have left are dungeons that no one wants to do because of the aforementioned reasons. Also, one of them takes twenty-four people, so that's even harder to get a group for.
So I decided to start leveling my cat on the RPGamer server, Leviathan, just to have something to do in-game. As a casual gamer, you can't get anything done if you don't log-in during patch time.
This is why I've gone back to FFXI when everyone quits for three months in FFXIV. There's always ten to fifteen people online in my Linkshell, unlike in FFXIV where I'm lucky if there's two. Ten may not seem like a lot to some people, but at least there are active people to play with.