With the release of patch 4.1, subtitled Return to Ivalice, there were many things players had to look forward to. These include the new raid The Royal City of Rabanastre; the new dungeon The Drowned City of Skalla, and a new primal battle - The Minstrel's Ballad: Shinryu’s Domain (more commonly known as Shinryu Ex) just to name a few. However, the one that people were likely most excited for was the introduction of the new housing area Shirogane, and with it twelve new wards allowing for more players to get their hands on a house.
Sadly, while this should have been a fun and eventful patch with much to do and lots of exciting content, this patch seems to have left a bigger negative impact on the community. There was, and still is, such a huge demand for housing that any new houses made available, even on many of the lower population servers, were sold within minutes. On my own server, Hyperion, which has a medium sized population, all of the new 720 houses were sold within I’d say no more than five or ten minutes. The only reason it even took that long was because many players found themselves unable to log into the game or had crashes due to server overloads.
As a result of all of this, I want to use this article to review and catch anyone up, specifically in regards to these three topics: How they went about the whole process; Some thoughts on how they should have gone about this, both from my opinion as well as other players’; and finally, what dev team’s solution is.
Overall, they went about the introduction of Shirogane the same as when they’ve gone over adding new wards to the existing housing areas in the past. They gave us a date, and as soon as the servers went up on that date, we got to battle at the login screen to see who get could in the game first. Only this time the demand was much greater than in the past, and even back then there were some issues.
Now, if you were stuck in the mess then right as the patch hit, or even prior, you likely realized there were some flaws on how they were going about this whole thing and thought of some simple ways on how it could have been made at least a little bit better.
My personal belief on how they could have eased the frustrations a bit would be to have had the houses go up for sale after the servers had already been up for a day. System wise, I can’t imagine it would be an issue especially since we already see houses go up for sale while the servers are up, such as when a player loses or forfeits their house. While this wouldn’t have given more players a house, it would have felt like a more fair battle since the main issue was even being able to login due to the server load and congestion.
On the Japanese forums one of the popular ideas going around is that players would like to see a lottery system for housing, although these posts keep getting deleted as they appear.
However, on the NA side of the things many players are suggesting instanced housing similar to that of Wildstar’s, where you still have a yard and plot to decorate but that everything about is instanced. We have a similar thing at the moment with our apartments, but this idea would also allow the apartments to have a yard. Personally though, I don’t think this would solve much, as there would still be the players that have non-instanced housing so I see people still getting upset and jealous.
Thankfully, the NA posts for once aren’t being deleted as often as the JP ones, so if you’re interested in seeing more in-depth ideas people have you can find a collective post here. Another popular idea is more reminiscent of Black Desert, where you’d be able to have multiple people owning the same plot in the same ward, which you would pick whose house to visit from a list as you walk up to the gate. This idea I am still not a fan of, but I do like it more than the Wild Star-esque one where you’re just shut off from the world completely.
Personally, I wish they would just make a few wards, not necessarily many, where only FCs (Free Companies / Guilds) could own homes. On my own server at least, I noticed that about 40% of the mansions (the largest tier of housing) were owned by FCs, while the remaining 60% were private players. Yet, I know many FCs that had the funds and wished to get a house and were just unable to. Now, while players seeking private homes obviously had this issue as well, I think more players would be at least appeased if the FC owned one. That way, if you have an FC with 100 players, at least now 100 players have that home rather than just one. Sure, it isn’t a private one, but it is still more players having access to the features and area, and giving more players a place to call their home.
Finally, we have what the dev team is doing. Producer Naoki Yoshida released a statement on the forums saying how the team “...will be working to bolster our servers in preparation for additional wards in the Lavender Beds, the Goblet, Mist, and Shirogane by patch 4.2.”
While I believe this is a good short term solution, and should help cull the anger of many players, I do worry about the long term side of things as I don’t believe they can continuously keep adding wards, especially since they already upgraded their servers just earlier this year, with the release of Stormblood. Still, for now, it is likely the best solution, and hopefully the dev team will be working on figuring out more long term solutions should the event arise where it is needed. I guess come 4.2, when we see just how many wards they were able to add, we shall have a better idea of everything. Until then, happy hunting for those houses!