Two Final Fantasy 14 Players Buy Dozens Of Homes, Spark Debate Over Housing Shortage

Frustration over Final Fantasy XIV's housing shortage has come to a head after two players angered a lot of others by buying up 28 homes in the land-strapped massively multiplayer online game. Now, players are questioning whether virtual housing is an equal right or a privilege meant for the rich and over-dedicated.

The two players bought their homes in a formerly vacant corner of the game, a server called Mateus, where they could pursue dual ambitions of opulence and privacy. Their critics say they have hoarded land from dozens of FFXIV citizens, who feel they deserve a chance at housing. That criticism has gotten ugly as players hotly debate whether their elitism -- or desire for mass amounts of property -- has any place in a game where everybody pays the same fee.

Martyr Igeyorhm and Seraph Altima

"Given we both came to Mateus for the quiet, it's distinctly uncomfortable to have others come in and insult us," one of the bulk home-owners, a player who goes by the name Martyr Igeyorhm, told me during a tour of their two-occupant neighbourhood today. "We've had to report people for harassment a few times." Her housing partner Seraph Altima agreed, adding, "I think it's wrong that people ignore the work and just see themselves being deprived."

FFXIV has had housing drama as long as it's had houses. When producer Naoki Yoshida introduced housing to FFXIV in 2011, he emphasised fair land distribution. But in the intervening years, housing has become a contentious topic in the game as speculators and thick-pocketed players monopolized property on big servers. Other times, players didn't even use the houses they buy; it's just a status symbol.

About 2,500 houses are available for each of FFXIV's servers, which on average host over twice that amount of players. Houses aren't a necessity in FFXIV, but owning one means having your own space to invite new raiding friends, host parties and, most importantly, decorate. Players paste ornate wallpaper to their walls, fill rooms with carved wood chests and candles and decorate with garlands and gold trimming.

They cost several million gil, unfurnished, which converts to more than $20. Fur rugs, wall-to-wall bookshelves, portraits and hot tubs garnish the homes of more thick-pocketed players who choose to sink their resources in home decor. Smaller apartments remain available too, but without the grandeur of a garden or street entrance (and on some servers, houses are still available.)

Out of this design frenzy, an FFXIV adaptation of Cribs has even emerged. A year ago, it featured the player Seraph Altima and her "sanctuary," complete with a lush garden, an attended full bar and stone partitions.

The reporter's alternate account in Altima and Igeyorhm's home

Altima had carved out sanctuaries on two of FFXIV's most populous servers. There, not even apartments, the less sought-after housing option, remain on the market. Publisher Square Enix has been adding more plots to keep up with demand, and will add more in the future, but right now, there's not enough to go around.

Over email, a Square Enix representative told Kotaku that players are only able to purchase one house per character. But because both individual players and Free Companies -- FFXIV's guilds -- can own property, players break that mandate a lot.

Last year, Altima fled the game's more populous servers and established her new home on the quaint Mateus. At that point, it was one of the only servers with a wealth of land. She and Igeyorhm claimed 28 plots and thought they'd have that space to themselves. Likely, their land avarice wouldn't have become a problem if thousands of refugees hadn't recently fled booked-up servers searching for fresh housing frontiers.

Square Enix started offering free server transfers prior to FFXIV's June Stormblood expansion, so players who wanted to avoid the influx of returning fans could game in peace. Mateus, which was unofficially designated a new role-playing server and was still a pristine (and cheap) housing frontier, was quickly full of home-scouters.

Eventually, the housing options in that server filled up, too. When incoming transfers realised that they could no longer purchase plots on Mateus, of all places, and noticed that two players owned a plush 28 plots, accusations of greed and unfeeling avarice spread. Over Facebook and Reddit, hundreds of players had angry words for the alleged gentrifiers who felt "entitled" to own all that property when so many recent transfers (and players still saving up) never had a chance to carve out a home on Mateus.

Altima and Igeyorhm's underground library

Altima estimates that their 28 homes, the majority of an entire ward, cost around 150 million gil. If they had bought that gil, it'd have cost $375. On FFXIV this morning, Igeyorhm described themselves as "omnicrafters," or players who "make all of our own items and sell other items for profit." (To save a few bucks, most of their decor was made using FFXIV's crafting system, too.) It took a lot of time. And she doesn't feel sorry for players who put in less effort, or got to Mateus later along with the crowds.

On a now-viral Tumblr post in response to public outcry, Altima wrote, "Many people feel entitled to own a house. They feel that even knowing there are only 2,160 plots (soon to be 2,880) on any given server, they can and should be allowed to go at their own pace and have free access to any content they like, including housing. They want a house of their own, but they don't want to accept that lots of other people want it badly enough to work harder for it than they did."

"Good lord," a Redditor wrote. "People who aren't rich enough to afford houses just aren't TRYING hard enough? Not wanting neighbours putting up 'ugly' Paissa houses in 'MY neighbourhood?' It's like the most stereotypical rich snob attitude I've ever seen, except it's apparently REAL (other than being in a video game)." Another described their actions as "selfishness because this person wanted to make a bastion of single-player content in a multiplayer game."

Altima and Igeyorhm's cake shop

I met Altima and Igeyorhm at the entrance of Goblet Ward 12 on FFXIV's Mateus server. There, they fielded my questions while we toured through their saccharine two-floor cake shop, picture-perfect schoolyard, sombre church to the FFXIV deity Zodiark and many, many gardens. Igeyorhm excitedly pointed out ice crystal formations and bubbling fountains between dives into hand-designed underground libraries and the like. I asked whether home construction was something she pursued in other games.

"Not really," she said. "A lot of people like to ask us, 'Why not play the Sims?' Because we do so much other stuff!" Igyorhm said that, after her husband died, she hasn't decorated much in real life. A few months later, she met Altima, and together they have spent an estimated thousand hours curating their 28 plots.

Neither thinks they're really depriving other players of housing opportunities. They blame Square Enix for not accommodating players' passion for home-ownership -- at least with houses. Although more cramped apartments are available on some servers and more housing will be added soon, the problem is more of philosophy than accessibility: Are players entitled to property in FFXIV -- any more than they're entitled to raiding mounts or veteran rewards? Is it the richer players, or the ones with more free time to grind out crafting exp, who are more entitled to take up space?

Altima and Igeyorhm's schoolhouse

I asked Altima and Igeyorhm whether they'd give up any one of their plots for a new transfer desperate for a home. They paused. "These are our memories. Our precious time spent together," Igeyorhm said.

Of course, some players still think they should be able to get those houses. "Not everyone needs everything in-game," counters Altima. She argues that she's not depriving anyone of housing; the plots were empty for years before they took them. "For example, not everyone deserves the Savage raiding mounts if they don't do Alexander."


    For all the things FF14 does well, this is one thing I've always been critical of. They have an artificial limit on housing that makes no sense, the housing areas are instanced so there's minimal overhead involved in dynamically adding extra instances to cater for need. Instead they have a bizarre elitism problem where people that got in first own property and auctions for expired properties end up selling for insane amounts of gil. What was intended to be (and originally was) something accessible to all players ended up being something only the lucky or wealthy could have.

    Even if they don't want to have housing instances dynamic, they could at help mitigate the problem considerably by just spinning up more of them. And I don't mean a trickle like they've done in the past, I mean bring up another 10-20 instances for each server.

      It makes sense in that:

      Perceived scarcity >>> Fear of missing out >>> Temptation to buy gil with IRL money >>> >>> Profit!

        Ah, I didn't realise you could buy Gil with real money from the publisher (I don't play the game). But now that you've said that, this entire scarcity thing makes perfect sense. That's exactly what they are doing, and laughing all the way to the bank while they do it too.

          Err, no, rmt is heavily punishable and bannable offense and isn't sanctioned by the producers in any way. The article was using unofficial rates from shady websites.

    Meanwhile, I'm angry about the price of housing in Sydney!

    Should simply be an account limit of 1 house per style of housing estate. That way can still buy a house at each of them, but no more.

    HA the only people that are pissed about this are those balmungtards that came in to 'colonize' our server into a bulmung 2.0, I for one have no problem with it due to the fact that they arn't ass holes about it but those bulmung guys ha 4 of them bought up one of the wards but noone bats an eye pathetic.

    as much as I disagree with what they do, this is ultimately SE's problem.

    anyone who has played an online game knows unless it's stipulated an action is a bannable offence somebody somewhere will do it (and even that sometimes doesn't deter people)

    After reading the tumblr post I'm kind of on their side.
    Mateus was a quiet server with little housing demand and they found a way of playing the game they enjoyed that for years never affected anyone else.
    It's not like they bought out the land for to exploit players for massive profit, they took an untouched part of the server and made it their own and I can't honestly begrudge them for that, being able to do that sort of thing is kinda what makes MMOs great.
    The real problem is and always has been how squeenix has handled housing in the game.
    It's almost always either a ghost town or crowded to the point of having no hope of getting a house by normal means.

    I think both sides are being stubborn. It is true you shouldn't just expect to have equal opportunity if you come late to the game or don't put in as much effort, however their excuse of "but our memories!" is selfish. They are putting their own desires over other people in a game about playing with others. There are several single player games they could play or even games with private servers (minecraft etc).

    They should play smarter and choose a way to come to a consensus otherwise those precious memories are going to be ruined by the volatile nature of online gamers.

    All these people complaining about housing limitations and here I am still annoyed at inventory limitations

      Inventory limitations? What!? Considering you get 150 inventory slots, 175 slots for each retainer totaling 500 slots, not including extra slots with which your gear is stored...I hardly think inventory is limited LOL.

    I am sympathetic to these two, and it is unfortunate that it has come to this. Their enjoyment of the game should not be superseded by the desire of others to partake in the same thing they have been doing quietly away from everyone else for years. However, I can understand the frustration. When land is a scarce resource, and some players cannot get a single house, their owning multiple residences deprives those players of an aspect of the game, which is unreasonable. However, these players did not bring this situation about deliberately. They are by no means at fault, finding a quiet and relatively unoccupied server to carve out their own slice of heaven. Square Enix needs to either revise the rules regarding property ownership going forward (not apply them retroactively and thus unfairly deprive these players of their years of hard work), or ensure a more reasonable supply of the land relative to the demand. Favouring obsessive or full-time players over the more casual players and thus locking them out of something as simple and fundamental to the game as player housing is just unreasonable. Favouring them with location (more central to the town amenities, closer to end-game content, etc) is one thing. Locking them out completely unless they get lucky enough to have someone abandon their property is something else entirely.

    Ummm, you can only have two houses 1 fc house an 1 personal... Am I to understand they made 20 alts.... or did the author and people commenting not even know how game works.

    "Not everyone needs everything in-game," She says after purchasing 28 plots of land which just isn't necessary, what an ironic statement lol.

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