Final Fantasy 14, the MMORPG that owes its success to Blizzard- no, okay. Final Fantasy 14 debuted in 2010 as an utter failure. But that’s a story for another time and completely unrelated! It more-or-less relaunched in 2013 as A Realm Reborn and also as Patch 2.0, and without housing. A few months later. Patch 2.1 was released, and housing was added! …For free companies, at least. Players seeking a personal house would have to wait until Patch 2.38. This was in July of 2014, and I didn’t start playing until 2017. How is this relevant? I don’t know, but just know I wasn’t there for this!
At the launch of housing, three residential districts were available. The Goblet in Uldah, Lavender Beds in Gridania, and Mist in Limsa Lominsa. In 2017, Shirogane was added as a fourth residential district during the launch of Stormblood, Patch 4.0. Housing wouldn’t be available for purchase until 4.1, however.
4.1 was released, and within a matter of minutes, all Shirogane plots had been bought up. There were no available plots in any of the residential districts, leaving players “homeless.” …I’m not saying that again. At this point in time, players were able to buy multiple houses, and some players would resort to scalping other players by buying plots of land and selling them for ridiculously high prices. In my previous FC, my ex and I (who were together at the time) were looking for a house. Our FC leader just so happened to be friends with one such player, and we ended up getting the house for free, outside of the standard fee.
You might be wondering why it was possible to buy multiple houses, to begin with. Back when housing was first introduced, the game had nowhere near as many players as it does now. There was also the fact that some servers were more populated than others. In fact, there is a Kotaku article about two players who bought 28 houses on one server. I’m not posting this article to hate on these players, and I certainly don’t want any readers to harass them either. This is just an example of the large availability of housing early in the game.
Housing launched with 12 wards, 60 plots each. Patch 4.2 increased this amount by adding wards 13 through 18. Unlike Patch 4.1 where all plots were immediately taken, 4.2’s expanded plot availability lasted weeks! Most likely due to the fact that housing was now reduced to one house per account. I remember the additional plots being released at this time, and I spent days trying to make enough gil to afford a medium. I probably bought my medium house a week after the patch, showing just how slowly these plots were sold. Sure, I bought it in Goblet, the least popular residential district, but players were desperate for housing.
More wards were added, with wards 19-21 being added in Patch 5.1, and wards 22-24 being added in Patch 5.35. Despite the extra wards, plots were being sold left and right, and there just weren’t enough to meet the demand. Players were at the mercy of other players relinquishing their houses (which not many do) and the automatic housing demolition system. If a player does not enter their personal house within 30 days, their house will automatically demolish, and their plot goes back out into the wild. For free companies, this is increased to all players, meaning if nobody in the FC enters the house within 30 days, the FC house will be demolished.
Even with this in place, housing was far from easy. I present to you, something all potential homeowners feared. Something we should all fear.
That’s right. When a plot is no longer occupied, it becomes unavailable for purchase for anywhere between 30 minutes and 30 hours. Players would have to stand at the placard for HOURS, spam-clicking over and over and over until the plot was available. There would usually be a group of people competing for the house as well, meaning you could easily spend half a day clicking away just to not get the plot. What was even worse is that existing owners could relocate to another location whether the house was available for purchase or not! This was because the only reason this system was implemented was to prevent players from buying and reselling plots to scalp other players. When I originally got my plot for my FC house, my best friend and boyfriend must have spent 7-15 hours helping me click away at a placard. Made a few friends along the way. What better way to make friends? “What do you two have in common?” “We spent 20 hours clicking a mouse trying to buy a virtual house.”
With the launch of Endwalker in Patch 6.0, a fifth residential area was added in Ishgard, Empyreum. These plots were available for purchase in Patch 6.1. This time, there would be no spam-clicking, no racing online the millisecond the patch finished downloading, no more wasting hours upon hours just for someone to relocate! The lottery system was added.
With many flaws.
The lottery system was good in theory. Players would have five days to enter for the plot of their choice, then an additional four days to finalize their purchase if they won, or 90 days to reclaim their gil.
Or just be told that the winning number was 0. Or told that nobody had entered the lottery despite it saying 12 entrants.
Yep, the lottery system launched with a huge glitch that would occasionally not pick a winner. And it took a month to fix. Players were already angry about the lack of housing over the years and the plots of land not being ready to purchase, this was just the cherry on top. After exactly one month, the lottery system was back up and running, and winners were picked for the glitched plots.
On top of the lottery system, wards were changed so that there were more available for free company houses than personal housing. Just how many wards were available for free companies? Try 18. Yep, 18 wards are available to free companies in EACH residential district, and 6 wards are available for personal housing. Of course, existing personal homes in wards 1-18 weren’t demolished, but if you ever relocate from that ward, you ain’t going back. This has caused even more anger throughout the player base, with the lack of personal housing.
This is the last available mansion available in the entire server of Ultros. There are already 91 participants, and the lottery isn’t even halfway over.
Another problem with the lottery system is actually in regards to how free company lotteries work. Instead of having it to where only the free company master may enter the lottery, anyone with permission to buy a plot of land in their FC may enter. This means that a lot of times, it’s the FC with the most money that wins, because they can have as many entries as they want, so long as they have the people and the money.
As the days go on, another issue has been made blatantly clear. Players, especially those looking to buy a free company home, are only interested in medium and large plots. There are only six mansions available per ward, and 14 medium plots per ward. That isn’t a lot. A lot of small houses end up just sitting there, vacant.
There are plenty of small homes available, yet the people who actually want them, the personal housing people, are unable to buy them, because they’re locked to FCs. For a while, I had always thought it would be better to lock small houses to personal housing, and mediums and larges to free companies. But as we can see from the picture above, there are plenty of people who want a personal large.
Not only are there not enough houses to make even half the player-base happy, but there are staggeringly few of the type of houses players actually want. The only way this could be fixed is if wards were entirely redesigned to include more medium and large houses, which isn’t going to happen. Alas, Final Fantasy 14 may never truly solve its housing conundrum.