Those of you who are currently playing Final Fantasy XI or who have played it in the past will remember the PlayOnline Viewer. Those of you who haven't will have no idea what it is, which might be for the best. Square-Enix originally included the program with the launch of Final Fantasy XI with the expectation that it would serve as a hub for a variety of different online games, so it would serve as a chat program, a launcher, a social network hub, and a support site.
Of course, when you think of all those things, what you probably think of is Steam, which does all of those things quite well. The PlayOnline Viewer, on the other hand, has proved excellent at doing... well, it mostly means more clicks before you get into FFXI. And as Pet Food Alpha has recently noted, it also seems to be hosting wholly unmoderated explicit chat rooms.
Square-Enix has stated that Final Fantasy XIV will not use the viewer, which means they seem to have abandoned it as a poor idea. Steam works, in part, because it sells a variety of both online and offline games, most of which don't come from its parent company. With a clunky interface and strange functional restrictions on it, it's hardly a surprise that the service never took off... but in light of recent events, the company's policy to ignore it completely might not be the best plan.
News from Massively.com