Version Update is a term that relates to Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV. Due to their online nature, both games are in a constant state of improvement by the developers. While the version update is taking place, players are be unable to log into them.
Every two or three months there will be a version update which is a notable change to the way players experience the game. Updates can be adding features (such as chocobo raising), new equipment, or, as has been popular after the addition of Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan, tweaking jobs to make them more characterful and fair.
There are times when the servers go down for routine or, very rarely, emergency maintenance. Generally when a server goes down for maintenance, it will be down for only a few hours (usually 1 to 4 hours). Version updates have a tendency of taking a little longer, generally being scheduled for 4 hours but often taking 6 or 8.
There have been certain times in the history of Final Fantasy XI, though, that unpopular changes have been made to the game. The most notable version update was the pair of updates that better balanced ranged damage. By limiting the range of ranged weapons to the maximum distance that enmity could be gained and by taking into consideration range, Evasion, and Defense more heavily in the damage equation, Rangers all but disappeared overnight. Previously they had excelled at damage far beyond what any other Job could do, but were an expensive Job to play. After the updates, the damage benefit was greatly reduced.
Probably the next most undesirable change was the Mithra Mithkabob recipe change, which made the high Strength and Attack food exorbitantly expensive but was ultimately geared towards making players select other foods.
Initially, the update schedule for Final Fantasy XIV was similar to XI, which major updates being planned for every 2-3 months. Also, smaller emergency patches where extremely common on the first months, happening almost every Thursday, along with the equipment maintenance.
The initial batch of updates had enormous list of changes, possibly due to the bad reception the game received as well as the many technical issues present on its earlier days. Since then, update sizes have been reduced, and the new director stated that the team is now concentrating in delivering smaller patches once or twice per month instead of a large update every few months.
In order to clarify the progression of the Version Updates in Final Fantasy XIV, they were officially renamed as Patches and given version numbers. Version 1.xx denotes the original Legacy version. Version 2.xx refers to A Realm Reborn and its incremental updates. Version 3.xx will refer to Heavensward, and so on.
The game is currently on version 2.38, released September 16, 2014.
Some controversial changes have been made on the first big update in November, 2010. Along the many changes, the Skill Points system for battle classes was completely redone, changing from a random SP gain based on battle activity and luck—the same monster could give 0, 100 or 500 SP even if killed the same way these three times—was scrapped and exchanged for a more classical approach, with monsters giving skill points in the same way as experience points. While this change was welcome, players soon started complaining that the update greatly increased the level curve and made group play "impracticable" due to the small party bonus, with many players resorting to solo play. Due to this, the party bonus has been increased on patch 1.15a.
Another controversial topic in the earlier days of 2011 was the possible addition of a jumping feature, still being discussed by the new team. The jumping function was eventually included with A Realm Reborn.