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.