According to this news article Square-Enix CEO Yoichi Wada admits the game is unsatisfactory but yet according to him the game didn't fail and most of the satisfied customers are old FFXI players. IMHO, FF14 isn't a bad game, a few major tweaks would make the game turn around. Here are a few things that I think would really make the game much more enjoyable. I'm sorry but if I were the CEO of Square Enix I'd be more interested in getting new players into the game than just satisfy old players. New blood = growth which translates to more profit. Sure keeping your existing playerbase satisfied is important but if you forgo the growth of your audiences this only leads to being stagnant.
Interface - The biggest gripe in FF14 is the archaic and outdated user interface. They try to re-create the menu driven feel of FF11 but seriously... FF11 was developed back in 2001 and.. this is 2010 ... crappy menu driven interface is soo overly outdated and atrociously difficult to use even if the game was designed for console in mind. Make the user interface simple to use without too much confusing menus. Most of the time I can't ever remember which menu leads to which. Make use of color ful icons, people tends to remember better if it's something nice and colorful instead of bland text menu.
Combat - The combat feels slow, as if your characters are trudging on sludge. The pacing and feel of the combat just feels wrong. I know they're trying to recreate the ATB (active time battle) system on an MMO but if youre battle feels too slow and boring it will put your players to sleep rather than the player getting excited and enjoying the encounter. I suggest increasing the pace of the combat or tightening up combat. Add some sort of ATB bar to show that it's your turn to attack or at least some sort of action queue it would help so much. What would make combat more interesting? Maybe add some sort of in-combat reactive events like they do in God of War that allows you to counter attack, evade or block or something depending on your job.
Crafting - The crafting is an atrocity in game crafting design. Synthesis can be enjoyable but seriously, they should at least show sort of log that shows you what items you have discovered how to make and the ingredients to make them. I'm all about wanting players to discover recipe for themselves but requiring a real life notepad to write down all game crafting information is just ridiculous.
World map - Okay this world map is a piece of crap. Seriously, Square Enix need lessons on how to properly design world maps, go take a look at how Blizzard does it. At least put in some info like important point of interest and area name in order to pique player interests into exploring more of the world. If your world map is a bland piece of atrocity players would not feel the need to explore.
Quest log/tracker - I don't know about you but i love a good quest trackers/log. In every new MMO that I have played, the first tthing I take a look at was the quest log and the quest tracker. A well designed quest log/tracker gives me the impression that the developers cared a lot about their game. While the default FF14 quest tracker is functional maybe they can jazz it up a bit like maybe..i dunno..add more information on what kind of quest that you have just picked up... is it a storyline quest? A guild leve? .. Maybe add the ability to link quest to chat so you can tell people that you need help with a certain quest.