Ragar is so glad he isn't on a Legacy server
This past Tuesday Square Enix finally brought players one of the most teased features of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. From some of the pre-launch promotional info to the E3 trailers and developer posts, they've told us all about how we would be able to buy plots of land in neighborhoods with our fellow players, customize the interior and exterior to match our wishes and even get bonuses to things like crafting and gathering if we used certain decorations. Now we knew patch 2.1 would be Free Company (FFXIV's guilds) housing, so we all kind of assumed that they might be a little more expensive, but even smaller FCs would be able to pool their funds and purchase a decent-sized bungalow for everyone to call home. Well... not so much.
You Want How Much?!
If you and your FC have aspirations of being landowners, I hope you've been saving your pennies because you're going to need everything you have. On my server, Gilgamesh, the smallest house on the cheapest plot of land is a whopping eight million Gil. If you happen to have rolled on one of the lower population servers like Adamantoise (6.4 million) or Yojimbo (four million), you're a little better off, though that's likely countered a bit by smaller FC sizes. For those unlucky folks who stayed on Legacy servers or rolled there to join their friends, things are a bit grimmer - 40 million is the cheapest you're going to step foot into your own home. These numbers are even more unpleasant when you start looking at the larger plots of land or the better locations; the top of the line large homes cost anywhere from 62.5 million on the low population servers to 625 million for the Legacy FCs.
My prices may not be pleasant, but at least I'm not on Durandal
To put things in perspective, after playing regularly since Open Beta with four level 50 classes under my belt and taking full advantage of absurdly overpriced jewelry prices since early October, I've only recently broken the one million Gil mark. My FC mates? The richest among them has only 250 thousand to his name. Admittedly we're a very small FC with only four members, so I fully expected us to have to settle for a smaller house and work our way up. Never did I imagine that we would be so very far from even dreaming of owning a home, let alone outfitting it with any decorations.
One bit of comfort is that these home prices will decrease the longer they sit unpurchased, but it's a slow decay and the lowest you'll ever see is a 50% cut after 90 days on the market. Going back to my server, this means my FC still needs to scrape together four million Gil to buy the worst plot of land and smallest house. If your FC is comprised of mostly crafters and players working the Market Board for all it's worth, numbers like these may be manageable, but remember not every FC is filled with people who consider the economy their endgame. Many FFXIV players focus on the story and PvE content which, prior to this point, is notoriously poor when it comes to profit. Additional changes with patch 2.1 promise improved income through increased battlecraft guildleve rewards, new dailies and random Duty Finder rewards among other things, but that's still a lot of money to ask from players and there really isn't any justification for it.
"It Has To Be Pricey or Else People Will Buy It!"
Earlier this week FFXIV Producer/Director Naoki Yoshida replied to a forum thread filled with players concerned about these high prices for FC housing. In his reply he cited studies of total Gil per player, number of FCs per world, the amount of Gil entering the world each day and how it was distributed among the players. For his rationale on the high prices for FC housing, this was Yoshida's response:
"Our fundamental stance toward housing prices was that we wanted to ensure that plots would be evenly distributed, avoiding a situation in which the wealthiest players could easily buy up all available plots of land. Please understand that while we will be adding servers and expanding housing areas as soon as we can, it is simply physically impossible for us to accomplish this easily, in a matter of one or two weeks."
Essentially Yoshida's answer boils down to two reasons why housing is so expensive: hoarding of land plots by the wealthy and limits on new servers for additional housing areas. By making housing prohibitively expensive, this makes more land available for everyone and gives them time to bring more servers online for additional housing areas. Do I think these are reasonable explanations for the pricing? Not in the slightest.
Let's start with his primary rationale, potential land barons. In theory the idea of richer players purchasing all of the land to hoard or resell for profit does seem like a valid concern and one the developers should seek to prevent in order for all players to partake in their new housing system. So how do we do this without extorting the populace? It's very simple really - don't sell players multiple deeds! It's housing for your FC, so why do players really need multiple deeds at the start anyway? If they want more space, have them pay to upgrade to a bigger plot of land. After a few months, then you can start allowing a second or third plot for FC purchase, but if the concern is really having enough land for everyone, why wasn't rationing considered in the first place? It even fixes his second concern of server load as well, but there's more to it than that.
Yoshida's concerns about server load made sense when we first heard them during launch with the Duty Finder issues. It was obnoxious, but we understood that FFXIV was significantly more popular than they had anticipated and they weren't prepared for the load. That was back in August though - it's now December and we're still hearing about issues with server load. I understand not wanting to overspend on hardware, I really do, but we've been hearing that excuse for a while now. If it's still a problem, it needs to be addressed and it should have been addressed before a giant patch like 2.1. The problem isn't going to go away either; patch 2.2 is supposedly bringing housing for individual players with cheaper costs of entry, so whatever load issues they're seeing today will be compounded almost exponentially once that patch goes live. The sooner we deal with the problems of today, the sooner we'll be prepared to face what future updates and waves of new players will bring.
I'll admit I am personally quite disappointed I won't be setting foot into my new FC house this week or even this month given how quickly my friends make Gil. I still enjoy the game, but this certainly put a damper on my goodwill coming into this patch. Once I've played with the other features 2.1 brought with it, I'm sure some of that will be restored and perhaps my FC will even see our new house prior to 2.2's arrival. This is still a scenario that could easily have been avoided though. These proposed problems posed by Yoshida should have been dealt with on Square Enix's end without placing roadblocks to slow players down. When you look at other games like WildStar or Rift, there are no such walls preventing you from getting started. A quick quest chain or a small fee and you're good to go with a starter home, with all of the options and upgrades presented to you as enticements to spend your hard-earned coin on improving your property. That is how housing should be handled - make it easy to get in, then make it easy to spend money while you're there. Hopefully one day soon, we'll get to that point. In the meantime though, someone save me a nice plot of land by Limsa Lominsa - it'll be a while till I'm ready to move in.
Michael "Ragar" Branham