Final Fantasy XIV’s plan to alleviate to housing shortage

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV [official site] has been firing on all cylinders as of late, with the well-received Stormblood expansion recently seguing into patch 4.1: The Legend Returns, the first of several episodic mini-expansions planned between now and the next full retail release.

While the update brought a slew of lovely new additions, including a return to the world of Final Fantasy Tactics in the form of a raid framed as a stage-play, only one thing has continually marred this lovely MMO world: A bizarrely realistic housing crisis.

While Eorzea is a land of plenty for all with the vast majority of the game being instanced, repeatable or otherwise communal, one of FFXIV’s stranger design decisions is to limit each server to a finite number of spaces for player housing, either self-owned or shared by guilds. As in real life, wealthy groups or individuals (extremely dedicated crafters, for the most part) have been snatching up plots of land en-masse, unsurprisingly leading to raised hackles across the community.

Things went from bad to worse on October 10th with the release of patch 4.1, which introduced a new housing region – Shirogane – in the Japanese-themed land of Doma. These highly desirable plots were snapped up within hours, with guilds taking advantage of the option to transfer their base of operations to the new plots of land. Unfortunately, only a few groups were able to take advantage of this group transfer, as the sudden rush for new land brought the servers to their knees.

With just about nobody pleased with this turn of events, director Naoki Yoshida (affectionately known to fans as Yoshi-P) made a forum statement that his team are aware of the problems, would like to apologise and that fixes are on the way. Unfortunately, the planned solution involves an expansion to the number of land-plots across all player housing regions coming in version 4.2, along with server upgrades to help avoid the crush of last time.

It should be fairly obvious that this isn’t so much a solution as slightly delaying the inevitable, and to regular players a larger issue can be seen: Version 4.2 is likely three months away. FFXIV’s major episodic releases tend to be spaced out in roughly quarterly fashion, and with the release of 4.1 just last week, it means things are going to have plenty of time to get worse before they can get (slightly) better.

It’s a bizarre situation, and a singular blemish on an otherwise excellent and surprisingly story-driven game, but after two expansions, it seems likely that the current housing model is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Players can only hope now that the housing expansion brings enough spaces to go around.

23 Comments

  1. malkav11 says:

    I just do not understand their dedication to limited housing space. I don’t care about player housing particularly myself, so I don’t have a real stake in the matter, but I don’t see what the upside is.

    • Beanbee says:

      Status perhaps?

    • SaintAn says:

      The servers for it cost money. They game was poorly made. Even player item storage space is limited because it needs server power or something. Which is why it costs extra real money a month to buy more storage space.

      I believe they should make housing cost extra real money a month too to fund all the servers we need for everyone to be able to get houses that wants one, and make apartments the game money housing. Otherwise they’re going to keep screwing players over, especially since a lot of content they have as rewards is housing items.

      • RobinOttens says:

        ^ this basically. They need to save every house, every piece of furniture and their placement and colour etc. For every player owned house. For every instance of the housing areas and every world/server. Don’t know if and how other mmo’s do this, but I can see that taking up a lot of servers space and complicated infrastructure to manage.

        They added smaller, cheaper appartments for players to own, so they have tried to find a solution for this. But as others have said, maybe they should add a real money cost per month to owning a house or something. Something to stop people from quickly buying up a house only to resell it a few days later. Or go back to only allowing fc’s (guilds) as a group to own a plot.

        • DFX2KX says:

          That’s exactly what Second life did. You could rent apartment spaces in a few servers and it worked well. But if you wanted land, the only way you where going to (feasibly anyway) get it was paying actual money.

          Now SL messed up in other ways, but that at least paid the bills for the servers.

  2. Massenstein says:

    This is probably a common problem in any massive multiplayer game with housing. Only one I have experience of is DiscworldMUD. Even though the playerbase is a tiny fraction of any graphical MMO and the cost of a house to the server is even less (few room templates, that can potentially take many times more memory if the player fills them to the brim, but still not very much), there are only a handful of houses to go by, and the rent is determined by an auction system which pretty much makes sure the richest (most dedicated grinders) can get any house they want and others will have to get very, very lucky.

    • malkav11 says:

      I actually don’t know another MMO with limited player housing. It’s usually instanced. And in fact, it’s instanced in FFXIV too but as someone else said, they’ve mysteriously and arbitrarily capped the number of instances.

      • Furiant says:

        Vanguard had the same issue; it wasn’t its only problem by far, and it’s dead now anyway, but it’s not unique.

        The issue as I see it is that FFXIV’s system allows you to have a house with a decoratable exterior that is visible to others in a neighborhood.

        Other games which have per-house instances (like SWTOR) or shared but non-decorated exteriors (like EQ2) have much lower data storage requirements (they only need to store interior decoration data) and thus allow for much greater availability — usually every player can have at least one house.

        Having to store data representing each neighborhood instance, plus the exterior data for each plot in that instance, plus the interior data adds up to quite a large storage footprint that does not scale well. The upside is that players feel more ownership of their plots; the downside is that there are usually not enough plots.

        In my opinion everyone should have access to the nicer housing. I don’t think it would go over well at this point to remove the exterior decoration features, and I also can’t see them investing in the infrastructure to overcome the data storage issues. Per-plot instances would be a middle ground, but would require drastic overhaul that I doubt they could justify unless people started leaving in droves over the matter.

        It’s an unfortunate design, and adding more wards is only going to make it worse. House-flippers will snap those up too, getting richer so that when even more wards come, they can afford to exploit it again. And regardless, the amount of wards they intend to add is only a drop in the bucket.

        I don’t know how it will turn out but there’s quite a lot of drama in-game about it, and not entirely unwarranted (given the context of a video game).

        • malkav11 says:

          Fundamentally, if exterior decoration is the issue then I think everyone having access to a house is better than a tiny fraction of people getting to make their houses visibly pretty. However upset that tiny fraction might be.

    • Darloth says:

      I owned a house in DiscworldMUD once.

      I was not rich, I didn’t play all that much, and I barely made rent for most of the time I owned it, but it was nice to have somewhere to go back to.

      Alas, it has been long since I logged in for more than a few minutes to preserve my character name, and longer since any of my friends were there… but I can still look at the house, and remember owning it, at least for a little while.

      I like what they did with the place in general. It’s a good MUD.

  3. BradleyUffner says:

    The only logical reason I can think of to limit housing in an MMO is when the world is one continuous, instance free, physical space (I don’t know if FF XIV does this or not). In this environment, houses take up 1-1 space in the world with their actual size, physically limiting the number of houses that can fit, simply due to geometry. It isn’t so much an explicit decision to limit houseing, as it is a decision to try and create a world that feels physically realistic.

    If you are doing instancing, or zone based maps, there is no excuse.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    I can confirm (for those curious) that FF XIV does instanced housing. So for example, before all of the expansions and whatnot, there were three areas you could live, each with different sized lots etc. The instances are actually pretty sizeable, but there are many instances (there may be, say, 30 versions of the beach, 30 versions of the desert, etc.) The housing limitation exists because they limit the number of instances.

    I believe the original goal was to have it be something of a money sink; if there was infinite land the land would be cheap, or would become cheap with MMO inflation. But of course there is a balance, which is hard to strike when you never know what the size of your player base will be and how wealth will accumulate.

  5. Phantasma says:

    Yeah i don’t really understand the problem. For example, Lord Of The Rings Online had a solution for housing shortages ages ago. Instanced neighborhoods that could be easily cloned as the demand was rising.
    Most MMOs have their real estate already instanced anyway.

    And concerning ‘muh realism’: If hundreds of groups can raid the same boss simultaneously while getting currency and loot out of thin air, 100% immersion was sent to the farm long ago.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I agree it seems daft that having opted for instancing, they don’t grow the number of instances automatically as occupancy of existing plots hits near capacity.

      Interestingly, LotRO was not going to have instanced housing at first. It was a source of considerable debate on the forums as the game underwent development and the team was persuaded instancing was preferable to vast housing suburbs or highly restricted plots.

      • ElementalAlchemist says:

        instancing was preferable to vast housing suburbs or highly restricted plots

        I kind of liked the “suburb” approach in SWG. On the one hand it tended to look bloody terrible, but it was also super cool to wander around and check out all the different places, and wander into those that were public and had all sorts of decorations set up, vendors, etc.

        • Someoldguy says:

          Definitely works in some games, particularly those who want grand scale, but can you imagine The Shire – which has maybe 50 NPC buildings in total – playing host to upward of 200 player homes and 5 clan halls of varying upgrade tiers? Bree with many more than that? It would completely change the look and feel of areas that Tolkien described and ultimately the devs agreed that it wouldn’t be suitable. Being able to step into an instanced suburb of roughly 20 plots in one corner of the Shire worked much better in that game.

  6. elevown says:

    Why not make it so each account may only buy 1 plot? And guilds may only buy 1 bigger guild plot? Sure some will get around it but it’s better than unmoderated first come first serve.

    • Furiant says:

      That’s going to be a requirement of any effort they are likely to make toward a solution. So long as they made the housing ownership account based (vs. character based, as it is now) I think people might tolerate it. But many folks already have multiple houses, and they would be understandably upset about losing all the money and time they sunk into them.

      • Someoldguy says:

        There’s really no need as long as they dynamically open (and close) housing instances as ownership rises and falls.

  7. phlogistic says:

    “Snapped up within hours”.
    Minutes. On most servers, everything was gone within 15 minutes of the servers going up. We had three people in my company try to log in the second the servers came up and all of the large plots were long gone before any of us successfully loaded in. These band-aid solutions aren’t going to fix a thing.

  8. CartonofMilk says:

    why not do something like Black Desert Online in which every single player in the game could in theory actually own the same house because they are instanced to your character? (and without even a loading screen)

    or can you actually build your own house to your specific design and location in FFXIV? or decorate the exterior… because if they’re just prebuilt and its a matter of buying them than yeah, do like BDO. Seems like a no brainer. Or at least instance housing areas.

  9. ilikefork1 says:

    Am I going crazy or is there a spelling error in the title?

  10. hannasmith says:

    Guess we’ll have to wait for the new expansion.Take a look at this for similar articles

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