The housing crisis is a phenomenon that has been occurring since the early days of MMOs. Players have been forced to resort to extreme measures such as renting out their own homes and selling them for in-game currency or real world money, which can get expensive quickly. Developers are working to solve this issue with new solutions like player housing on an individual basis.
MMORPGs like ArcheAge and Ultima Online, which have limited digital real estate for player housing, may be harming rather than benefiting the entire game, according to a recent article by Lars Doucet at Game Developer. According to the author, the rush to get property and the possibility of real money investment make this a risky proposition: “I’m worried that this may lead to digital land speculation bubbles that will cause gamers, developers, and investors alike to lose ridiculous sums of money.”
EVE Online’s galaxy, as well as Ultima Online’s almost-24-year-old housing problem on its most populous shards, was held up as a great example, owing to its open world housing concept and restricted plots. “The biggest problem with FFXIV’s hyper-dimensional suburbs, however, is that it has somehow achieved the worst of both worlds – a virtual bedroom district that doesn’t interact with the rest of the game, and a limited supply of land that has led to rampant housing speculation, sky-high prices, and a suffocating housing shortage,” according to the article.
The author claims that virtual real estate varies from the actual world in many ways, including the possibility to create additional land, the lack of physics, and the lack of a need for land in games.
Raph Koster, the creator of Ultima Online, reacted to the article with a variety of comments. “This latter subject brings up the problems like we had in Galaxies, where there was enough space for everyone to own a home if they wanted – but people did things like construct player towns over the entrances to dungeons to monopolize access to resources,” one of them said.
Long-time MMO gamers, we’re sure, can come up with many more instances — we certainly can!