House hunting woes in Final Fantasy 14

"I betrayed them all just to get a roof over my head."

NOW PLAYING

In Now Playing articles PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today Daniella Lucas hits the housing market hard in FF14.

My dream is to own my own house one day. Nothing fancy—a couple of bedrooms, a decent kitchen, and a little garden to potter about in and grow tomatoes. Maybe I’ll get a dog, perhaps I’ll have space to hang my linens. Well, given that it’s 2016 and housing is now so expensive the best our generation can hope for is a ground floor flat with a landlord who actually fixes things in a timely manner, that house will forever remain just a dream. 

When Final Fantasy 14’s patch 3.3 launched, with its promise of hundreds of new, affordable housing plots per server, I thought I’d at least be able to live out that fantasy in game if not in person. I’d been saving for weeks! However, I never anticipated just how lifelike the process would be. 

Within an hour of the patch going live all of the plots on mid-high population servers were gone. Some servers reported running out in under ten minutes. Only those who could afford the luxury of a day off to be there at the exact moment the time restriction lifted were lucky enough to get a plot, and a high number of those buyers didn’t even want a home—they just wanted to sell them on at ten times the price they paid, for a quick profit. People had houses snatched away right underneath their noses by those with faster connections.

In short: the FF14 economy is just as fucked as the real one. While the rich are getting richer—some even using alt accounts to buy up multiple plots—ordinary players are being priced out completely. I’d give the game credit for realism if it wasn’t so frustrating. The only way to get a house now is to move out into the middle of nowhere, aka: the servers with low populations and fewer adventuring opportunities. There’s also another hurdle to jump through: you can only transfer so much gil when you jump servers. The rest you have to invest in items that you think might sell, and then you have to pray to the marketboard gods that you’ll make your full investment back. Smaller servers also usually mean fewer people buying those minions you poured your funds into.

I moved from Cerberus to Zodiark, packing my bags full of Fat Cat minions and Morphos, and leaving my in-game husband behind with nothing but a hastily scrawled note and disappointment.

As I weighed my options a sort of desperation overcame me. If I can’t even get a house in a videogame, how am I ever going to get on in real life? I decided to take the risk and move from Cerberus to Zodiark, packing my bags full of Fat Cat minions and Morphos, and leaving my in-game husband behind with nothing but a hastily scrawled note and disappointment. I moved while all of my Free Company friends were offline, it would have been too hard if they were there to see me, and now it’s too awkward to return. 

I betrayed them all just to get a fictional roof over my head... and it was worth it. Even the agonising wait for my investments to sell, and the mournful DM the husband I abandoned sent me after I’d left him behind. I’ve got a bathtub and some chairs shaped like pumpkins now. I’ve also let a few dudes set up shops in my living room so I don’t have to leave when I want crafting materials. I’ve even got a washing line to hang those imaginary linens on. What more could a warrior of light need?