I bought FFXIV:ARR expecting the process to be as simple as registering FFXI was... however, with the phasing out of the PlayOnline client, things have gone to the dogs. Getting the game set up is clunky, confusing, and just plain ridiculous.
Today I will show you how to PROPERLY register your serial code, and even show you step-by-step instructions on how to retrieve everything you need to register.
Step 1: Buy the game!
To buy the game, go to the North American FFXIV:ARR website (here) and press Product.
From here press Purchase under the big banner of all the games.
Now you can choose how to purchase the game, as seen in the image above.
The course of best action (if you want to access the game the quickest that is) is to buy it Digitally from Square-Enix themselves.
MAKE SURE YOU USE A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS!!!
WARNING: When buying, there will be a prompt to login right above the Billing Information. This is NOT necessary to buy the game. In fact, when I tried to log in, I kept getting a "incorrect credentials" message even though my login info was correct. It's better to disregard it completely. This is just another one of SE's many confusing, broken site features.
Step 2: Checking Your Email
Before you do that though, do you have a Square-Enix ID?
If you don't, sign up for one (here) and press the big red button to register.
Time to open up your email! Refer to the image above.
WARNING: THESE EMAILS OFTEN ARE CAUGHT BY SPAM FILTERS! Before panicking, check your Spam/Bulk folder. (My emails were in Gmail's spam folder.)
Action 1: Confirm your Square-Enix account by finding an email similar to the one right of the red arrow (skip if you have one already)
Action 2: Find an email similar to the one to the right of the green arrow. It will have your order number, links, and other stuff you need for the next step. It may take some time for this email to arrive.
Action 3: THIS ONLY APPLIES TO IF YOU PREORDERED FFXIV:ARR! This email doesn't have to be opened, but may take some time to arrive. It just confirms that your preorder bonus is ready.
Step 3: Retrieve Your Codes
From here, click the link as shown in the photo.
From here, you can enter your info two different ways.
The easiest method is to just enter the email address that you received the email on and last 5 digits of your credit card, since you may have forgotten the password you signed up with.
Green Arrow: First Begin Download so you can get that out of the way. If you played Beta, you don't have to download again.
Red Arrow: This code isn't actually needed. Ignore it for now.
Blue Arrow: This is the code you need. Write this down. IT IS CASE SENSITIVE.
WARNING: Ignore the instructions below the codes. THESE ARE NOT CORRECT. Though Square-Enix meant well, these instructions did not work for me, and instead made me falsely believe I had invalid codes. If you have the invalid registration code issue, hang tight, because I'll show you how to properly register them in a moment.
If you preordered the game, scroll down past the instructions.
Download the .pdf file and follow the easy instructions to convert your Serial Number into a redemption code.
After you get your redemption code, write it down. IT IS CASE SENSITIVE!!!
Press the link next to the red arrow and enter the code you just got. You will be able to redeem your preorder items.
These items will appear in your Moogle Mailbox in the game itself.
Step 4: Register Your Code (High Chance of NOT Working)
This is where both Square-Enix and most people get this step wrong.
Square-Enix wants you to go to the NA Square-Enix page, as shown here...
...to press Add New Game...
...and to input the RED ARROW code here.
THIS MOST LIKELY RESULTS IN AN "INVALID CODE" ERROR.
My code was marked as "invalid" through this method, and made me believe Square-Enix sent me faulty codes!
So, let's do it ANOTHER WAY!
Step 5: Register Your Code (High Chance of SUCCESS!)
Log in to your Square-Enix account, and let's proceed!
(the captchas on this page can be REALLY annoying, just a fair warning.)
Once you log in, you'll see your Mog Station hub. It won't look exactly like this, because I've already registered.
Press the sun-like button to proceed.
It is here that you can enter the Blue Arrow code you wrote down from Step 3.
Press NEXT, and finish your registration!
WARNING: Remember, this is all CASE SENSITIVE. If your code is still invalid, make sure you didn't accidentally make your 5's into S's, 0's into O's, 1's into I's, 3's into E's, or other simple mistakes. I had some trouble because I accidentally switched a number in for a letter. You can imagine how badly I panicked... IF IT STILL DOESN'T WORK, CLEAR AND RETYPE, OR CHECK THE "DIGITAL RIVER" PAGE IN STEP 3 AGAIN. Contact Square-Enix's customer support through (here) as a last ditch effort.
Step 6: Installation
Now that your game is registered, find the client that you downloaded earlier.
Install FFXIV:ARR, or if you have it installed already from Beta, open it up on your computer.
Install like any other program.
Once it is installed, open the shortcut on your desktop.
Log into your Square-Enix account and allow the client to update.
Once it's done, you know what to do...
PRESS PLAY AND ENTER THE WORLD OF EORZEA!!!
Hope this has helped! Have fun!