When Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida announced earlier this year that the Endwalker expansion would improve the incredibly frustrating house-buying process and make it more fair, details were a little scarce. PC Gamer spoke with Yoshida as part of a recent roundtable interview and got considerably more explanation and insight this time around.
Buying a house in Final Fantasy 14 will basically be split between two processes. There's the new lottery system where every applicant has one entry in the pool. Then there's the previous system wherein players would rush to be the first applicant to a newly opened house, which resulted in a lot of frustrating crowds of players gathering around a home's placard, potentially waiting for hours, and constantly refreshing to see if its arbitrary cooldown timer had expired.
Yoshida emphasized that the Final Fantasy 14 team built its new lottery system with the potential to implement it in both new and existing areas on an area-by-area basis, and not just in the Ishgard region. The team will also have the power to set entire regions to the lottery-based option or the traditional first come first serve option, if it so chooses. There may also be housing locations that will require players to purchase them as free companies, Final Fantasy 14's version of a guild.
"So we are building this system so it is flexible. We can deploy it as we see fit based on the situation of how much housing is being occupied," Yoshida said.
So how does the lottery process work? Yoshida says that players will see a plot of land become available for a particular amount of time (Yoshida gives a hypothetical of four days), then they'll be able to go the house's placard sign out front to make a refundable deposit based on the house's price.
Yoshida gives a hypothetical price/deposit cost of 2 million gil, something that most endgame players would be able to acquire without an unnatural amount of playtime. A player will deposit that 2 million gil into the house, which gives them one and only one entry into the lottery pool, with a winner being randomly selected.
When a winner is selected, they'll receive a notification they've won and will have a set amount of time to finalize the purchase and move into the house. Players who didn't win will be refunded their deposit.
What about troublemakers who just want to troll eager house hunters and clog up the system with deposits they have no intention of acting on, or players who just chicken out? Yoshida says they'll be charged a penalty fee that's less than the full amount of their deposit, but "there will be a significant amount that is kept by that area and not returned to the player."
Yoshida adds that the same process will be followed for houses that end up demolished because their owners have been inactive for too long, assuring us that players won't have to wait in front of a placard for a cooldown timer to refresh, and that resellers won't be able to take the house.
"So we're hoping this system is very logical and reasonable and we hope that it does alleviate some of the issues we have with the housing situation," Yoshida said. He also added that the Final Fantasy 14 team is looking into "further investments" including additional servers for more housing areas.
Thanks to a steadily increasing player population, the Final Fantasy 14 dev team may have their work cut out for them, as housing has struggled to keep up with demand for some time now.
The Endwalker expansion releases on November 23, with the lottery system and Ishgard arriving sometime later in the planned 6.1 patch. As for Ishard region housing, Yoshida says the dev team isn't allowing players to purchase plots of land "until people have kind of settled down after gameplay of Endwalker," but didn't specify how long that might be.