Time for an Auction House

Even if fixed, the market wards of FFXIV may never recover from a botched launch.

Christmas is coming, which means it's time to shop for holiday gifts. This past Sunday, I headed to the mall to find some jewelry for my wife (don’t worry, she won’t be reading this).  I walked in, stopped by a couple stores, viewed a few trinkets and picked out the perfect present.

If you do your own holiday shopping, perhaps you’ll think the same thing I did: thank goodness Mall Eorzea only exists in Final Fantasy XIV.

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Let’s run through my gift-buying excursion as if I were using the market wards. I’d drive my car to the mall, park outside, and then find the entrance to the jewelry portion of the shopping center. Then I’d walk inside to see a myriad of stores with no signs or display cases, like something from the mind of Franz Kafka. I’d approach a counter and ask to see the vendor’s wares, only to find he lacks the earrings I’m after. The next few vendors would have very few items to choose from, and none would be earrings. The last vendor I’d check wouldn’t even be selling jewelry.

“Try the sporting goods section at the front of the mall,” another shopper would say. Although there is no good reason to sell earrings with sporting goods, I would eventually find what I was looking for, but only after spending another hour poking through more unmarked shops. And I'd never know that I overpaid by $50.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Of everything that was wrong with Final Fantasy XIV at launch, the market ward system was the worst. The wards were nowhere near ready when the game was released into the wild. The system itself is unrealistic, with no way to discern which vendors are selling what items. I understand that Square Enix was trying to create a more personal, old-school market system, but the innovative idea was horribly executed.

Fixes are coming, but I fear these changes are coming too late.

It’s time for Square Enix to announce a timeline for implementing an auction house, just as they announced timelines for this year’s big updates. Even if the plan is to add the auction house at the end of next summer, players need to know that a stable, proven economic system is coming.

Players want an auction house. Not all of them, but probably most of them. Adding search functions to the market ward system will certainly make the wards more usable. However, judging by the number of retainers irreverently stashed in the Battlecraft Ward, I get the feeling that too many players don’t give a damn about making the market wards user friendly. I think many players want the wards to fail, if that’s what it takes for Square Enix to install the auction house.

In a keynote speech this week at GDC China, Final Fantasy XIV executive producer Hiromichi Tanaka explained the market wards were conceived to curb deflation experienced in Final Fantasy XI’s auction house system. The auction houses of FFXI allowed the viewing of price histories across various regions, prompting players to continually undercut prices in an attempt to sell their wares. On the other hand, the market ward system “makes it difficult for a single market rate to become established, providing the seller with more opportunity to turn a profit,” said a slide in Tanaka’s speech.

Also during his speech, Tanaka indicated that the development team hasn’t ruled out an auction house system for Final Fantasy XIV.

Innovation is a wonderful thing, and it’s one of Square Enix’s best qualities. I love it that the development team constantly pushes the envelope with new designs and new systems. The fact that Square Enix tried to reshape our economic infrastructure speaks volumes about the bravado and vision of the developers. I also applaud the development team for trying to correct the deflation that eventually drove players away from Final Fantasy XI. I’m sure there is more than one way to crack that nut; perhaps install an auction house without price histories?

As stated earlier, innovation is pointless without execution. I really wanted to see the market wards succeed, but that was months ago when the game was released. Now, I just want Final Fantasy XIV to be functional. I’ve had lots of fun playing this game since launch day, but I have yet to buy a single item from the wards. Once I entered the wards to take a look around, and that was all I needed to see. Broken system is broken.

The market wards could have worked if they’d have had search functions at launch. They may not have worked perfectly, but search functions would have allowed players to grow accustomed to the system without pulling their hair out. After two or three months of trial and error, the development team could have adjusted the wards to make them hum as intended.

Now, it just seems like the moment has passed, doesn’t it? We’re closing in on three months into the game’s life, and we still don’t have basic search functions that should have been in place at launch day. It feels like we’re still beta testing the market ward system, which isn’t a good thing, given the importance of economies in MMORPGs. Players are already upset about shelling out hundreds of dollars to upgrade their computers just to play an extended beta version of the game. They want to know – they need to know – that this game will offer viable economic infrastructure.

Announce an auction house. Do it! The auction house could even operate alongside the wards. Perhaps charge a much lower tax through the wards, and rename the ward areas to represent different in-game events or activities as content is implemented. Or take the advice of a poster on our forums and have the auction house function like an actual auction house, with players placing bids on items and the items being sold to the highest bidders. If the market wards are so important, find a way to make them work as a compliment to an auction house system, but not in place of it.

The time to experiment was last summer. The time for tweaking ended yesterday. Now is the time for results.

Now is the time for an auction house.

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Market Wards
# Dec 09 2010 at 8:55 AM Rating: Default
I love the thought of an auction house, but I don't count on it. What I would like to see in the Market Wards is an option to vote OUT people in the wrong ward OR dont allow a retainer to stand in a ward that doesn't have any of the items that relate to it.

It's so stupid that I walk in the battlecraft ward to find a weapon, and I have to check 50 retainers to find an NPC with any weapons at all.
I think it needs more than an AH
# Dec 09 2010 at 8:33 AM Rating: Decent
Clearly there's no possible way to support the premise that the retainer wards are easy to use, working as designed, or don't drive people insane. I don't believe an auction house in the conventional sense is the right answer however. I'd like to see it work alongside the retainer system so that there are stronger regional ties.

The regional ties are interesting though, and need to be fixed by more than a local auction house. For example, Gridania. People seem to shun this zone compared to the other two. Why? It's circuitous, the town seems somewhat silly, and IMO, people left at rank 10 when Lone Wolves ate them when they were doing DOL quests. It's not quite a ghost town, but this zone needs to be "rebalanced" to make it stronger relative to LL and Uldah. It needs to be known as the capital of flax, certain items, whatever. Likewise, the other zones should have some products of renown.

Granted, there is a feedback forum, but first I'd start with fixing up the retainer wards:
1. Have them dress in the goods they're selling - DONE
2. Put up flags or colors for the "main type" of good they're selling
3. For each ward, have a tracking billboard of who's selling what so the the prices are visible to those setting them and buying
4. Give incentives to sell in the right ward - DONE
5. Provide enough retainers and space that it's actually possible to sell in "the right ward"
6. Fewer wards

As for the auction house, a few checks and balances come to mind:
1. Do not link auction houses so that regional variances exist
2. Limit the number of items that can be sold
3. Tax them strongly so that bazaars are still viable
4. Make it "immersive" somehow. Not just a big billboard you can peruse at leisure, look up a price, compare it to YG, and determine buy or not buy.
5. Limited hours, in the game time sense. Yup, frustrating when you miss it, but it might be amusing to have to tell your LS mates "darn, I just missed it, the Mithra was drawing down the shutters as I walked up, guess I'll get it in a few hours."

(Heck, I'm not sure what else, but I don't want to see the AH just plain better and easier to use in every form and fashion because it does kill the retainer system, something SE and myself would like to see work)

In short, I'd like to see the auction house inserted as a part of fixing the wards system, but I want them to keep the crafting and local markets that SE carefully built.
auction house please!
# Dec 09 2010 at 5:02 AM Rating: Excellent
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58 posts
Let's not torture the very few dedicated players that remain any longer.... implement a damn auction house
auction house please!
# Dec 29 2010 at 1:49 PM Rating: Good
I am definatly in the AH yesterday column
auction house please!
# Dec 09 2010 at 8:00 AM Rating: Good
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138 posts
Agreed, they just need to say they're going to do it. That'll keep me on for months.
AH Now Please
# Dec 09 2010 at 2:05 AM Rating: Decent
30 posts
Well written Thayos. We really do need an AH! I cant stand the retainer system. I spent well over 1 half hours looking for one item, and still didnt find it . The retainer system does not work,

I want to pay to play and not spend hours clicking on all the retainers looking for an item. Even with a search function U will still have to find the said retainer. * Sigh *

I want to be able to walk up to an AH click on lets say sword and Hey! bingo, 20 swords for sale, took me 1 min to find said item.( I want to be able to wave to people that I met in the game,) its a great meeting place too, an AH is also a real social hub. U dont get that feeling with the retainer ward.

As for going on line Http://www.ff1vpro.com !! sorry but I spend more then enough time in real life shopping on line, and dont want to be going to them sites looking for what ever item I need. I do not want too spend endless amount of time looking for an Item. Get rid of retainers please and bring in AH ASP Please Please.


Edited, Dec 9th 2010 3:06am by Miademar
*cough*
# Dec 09 2010 at 1:39 AM Rating: Decent
17 posts
nvm

Edited, Dec 9th 2010 2:40am by aceythafaceman
Auction house yesterday
# Dec 09 2010 at 1:15 AM Rating: Good
I agree wholeheartidly!

Auction House YESTERDAY.

Thanks
賛成です。
# Dec 09 2010 at 12:53 AM Rating: Decent
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148 posts
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The solution
# Dec 09 2010 at 12:38 AM Rating: Decent
The solution to market ward troubles:

1) Have a searchable list of every item in the game that a player can scan through (quickly FFXI style) to pick an item they are looking for.

2) Once the player picks an item from the list every retainer within a certain radius (say town-size) will glow (or whatever - arrows anyone?) if they have an item in their inventory the player is looking for.

3) Added points if this feature is added to your map such that locations of retainers that carry items you need show up there.

BLAMMO! You now have an auction system that is decentralized giving sellers a bit more power as to prevent undercutting but not such that players can't find what they need in a given area.

Doesn't take much to think of simple solutions such as this. Unfortunately SE IMO is just ***'king lazy and incompetent. Someone please fire Tanaka.
Helping Yourself
# Dec 08 2010 at 11:35 PM Rating: Decent
I know it's not a perfect solution or always most effective to use an outside source but it a lot of people started using sites like http://www.ffxivpro.com/ then the FFXIV would be able to generate their own AH/search function.

I have tried using it a few times and have noticed items being sold off my retainer relatively quickly. I'm not sure if it is because others have found the items on ffxivpro or if it is just because I use the wards properly but either way... use the resources available to help yourself until SE is willing to commit to an AH.
yg anyone?
# Dec 08 2010 at 11:27 PM Rating: Decent
29 posts
There's a very useful site to look up items in the market wards, and it's usually up to date (placing the length of time the retainer/player has put the item up for auction). Not to sound rude, but if you tried to find outside sources for anything, it'd be a lot easier. Using your metaphor of the mall, if you use a computer and browse the internet, doesn't it make it more useful to find the store (and item) you're looking for?
yg anyone?
# Dec 09 2010 at 2:39 PM Rating: Excellent
30 posts
This answer boggles my mind. Why should I have to do outside work just to buy something from in game? Why do I have to use a third party to make accessing content easier in the game? Do you use GameFAQs every time you can't get past a part in a game? Maybe sometimes, but I'm not interested in switching back and forth from a game to an FAQ. I want to immerse myself in a game.

Let's take FFXI. What if you went to rent a Chocobo, but before you had to do that you had to go to a third party website, do a search for a type of Chocobo and then make your selection. Would that somehow enhance your experience?
Nameless stores
# Dec 08 2010 at 11:20 PM Rating: Good
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205 posts
That mall analogy was spot on! I just spent all day in Market Wards looking for a single item. After deciding to look online to see who is selling it, you might say I got a 'name for my shop' I head out to a whole brand new Market ward...to see that this retainer is long gone!

Its like calling a store in a mall, getting confirmation they are not only open but have what I'm looking for and you drive 20 miles out there and...you find out the store has gone out of business.

Please please lets get an Auction House (or something similar)
Market Wards Redeemable
# Dec 08 2010 at 11:02 PM Rating: Decent
Two additions to the market ward would make it a workable system while retaining it's unique character. First, allow the buyer to specify an item that he or she is seeking. Only items that should be sold in a particular ward could be searched for. All the retainers selling that item would then display an icon indicating they are selling that item. Second, set retainers to display in one of two modes. Move to the ward for their most expensive item or move to the ward the the most numerous items. Thus if my retainer has an iron spear that I'm selling for 150k and four logs for 5k and I set my retainer to highest price she goes to the battle ward. Then when someone buys my spear my retainer moves automatically to the carpenters ward. Sure someone could put a copper dagger in their bazzar for 999,999gil and force their retainer to stay in the battle craft ward but then any potential buyers could not search for anything in that bazaar that wasn't a weapon.


Edited, Dec 9th 2010 1:50am by Nicholiathan
Amen
# Dec 08 2010 at 10:43 PM Rating: Good
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See, this is why we need to be able to rate admins up :P
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#KiranRedtail, Posted: Dec 09 2010 at 9:28 AM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) Seriously? Maybe if Thayos managed to remove the 'sniveling 12 year old' feel from his ideas people would take them seriously.
Well Said
# Dec 08 2010 at 10:06 PM Rating: Decent
Well hopefully a real SE Staff will read this hopefully , still this game has a lot of potential please dont waste it anymore and listen to the FFXIV community.
An Idea
# Dec 09 2010 at 7:17 PM Rating: Decent
34 posts
An NPC at the front of the market ward area in each city with the search function could be the solution.
This way it would give you the ability to see what items are in the city you're at.
If you were in Ul'Dah and didn't find what you wanted, you could still travel to Gridania or Limsa Lominsa and use their NPC's to see if they had the item you wanted.

I think this way it would get rid of the "mindless zombies" browsing an AH.

More interaction with NPC's, a social HUB area in each city, and a shopping experience.

I played WoW (just as an example)for a long time, and the AH's they have are mindless and don't provide any excitement other than "OMG I just got <item name> for ... !!! "
Well Said
# Dec 09 2010 at 3:39 AM Rating: Decent
21 posts
I personally think they need to add in something to help deter people from dumping there items/retainer in the wrong area. From 2% tax in correct area to 5% tax isn't enough. Thats hardly any real loss in gil for the lazy.

My idea is something DRAMASTIC. Say you have 10 items on your bazaar, none of them fitting into the battle craft ward. Instead of 5% tax, each item ups the tax by 5%, for a total of 55% cut to the sold amount. That'd deter someone huh? Now I know there would be issues with it if you had something like 7 DoW weapons and 3 DoM weapons and you put it into battlecraft ward since.. You have more DoW stuff then anything! Thats fine, and thats good. Say if you have 50% or more of the propper items for sale at the time of listing, then the taxes would stay at 5% for the other items.


Just something I thought up at 3am after reading this, and decided to flop it out there. I'll post it into the reply thingy to incase folks don't read this threw.~
Well Said
# Dec 09 2010 at 2:41 PM Rating: Good
30 posts
I wouldn't be against this IF Square Enix put in their effort and added an appropriate amount of retainers for player.
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