MMO players were incredibly unforgiving even when FFXI came out. Many MMO players who were not FFXI players hated the notion of Japan-based servers. Some wanted servers in each region for lag issues (the whole JP button idea FFXI players had back then. Basically the issue of fairness), some just wanted to play with their own kind (yeah, for some reason, MMO players were anti-Japanese games on the whole far before it became cool to hate Japan in the Seventh Gen of console gaming, a time when being anti-Japan was unthinkable due to Nintendo, Sega, Sony, not to mention video game/non-console developers there. Anyone know why? I just attribute it to primary PC gamers who were exposed to fewer Japanese games because PC gaming in NA is overwhelmingly NA & EU with few coming from other parts of the world as opposed to console gamers. In doing some research, I did find chatter in the '90s from that Atari generation that was quite anti-Japan whereas anyone who came of gaming age in the Third-Fifth Gens was strongly pro-Japanese because Western companies were far behind). With the expansion of the MMO market, I'm not sure how much it's changed, though a lot of Korean MMOs seem to do fine. FFXI attracted an audience, but it targetted some different demos for MMOs (being console-based or dual-platform, being Japanese) and alienated some of the main MMO audience and it had a lower population threshold necessary for success. FFXIV's is far higher as it was made assuming it would attract a larger audience.
Region servers is one concession they need to try and get some eyes on the game. It may, or the game's bigger issues may override it (the failure of 1.0). It may lead to Balkanized servers, but that's an issue I guess they would find preferrable to dealing with than a failed game with a sub-profitable population size.
Somewhere out there, there is a road with 2 signs on it. One says "No Trespassing". The sign right next to it says "FREE KITTENS".