Final Fantasy XIV has one of the most competitive housing markets in an online game. Buying a cosy digital home requires lots of money and the patience to fight with other players—including big guilds and bot owners—to place a bid on a home. If you don’t use it, you also lose it. In light of the current covid-19 pandemic, that last restriction is being lifted. Evictions are now on hold.
In an announcement yesterday, the Final Fantasy XIV team announced that they would freeze housing evictions within the game due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic affecting the world. Automatic demolitions on abandoned houses in the game’s fantasy world of Eorzea are on hold for the foreseeable future.
“Taking into account the world-wide spread of the COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”) and the financial consequences of various cities going into lock-down, we have decided to temporarily suspend automatic housing demolition,” the announcement said.
Under normal circumstances, Final Fantasy XIV players lose their homes if they don’t enter them within a 30 day period. Houses are demolished and lots put back up for sale. It’s a measure meant to open up an intensely competitive market, though it has had mixed success.
The in-game housing market has been a point of contention amongst players for years, particularly on servers with larger populations. Housing wards fill up quickly, and new lots are hard to come by. In the case where a lot appears, purchase is often a matter of placing a bid price within a certain time period. Dedicated players have spent full days standing in front of lots they want to purchase, clicking on the location’s sign in the hopes of making a purchase or bid. This is made more difficult due to harsh competition. In some cases, people use bots so that one player can have dozens of characters attempting to purchase. On some servers, large guilds essentially run rackets and buy out entire housing wards. To combat this, some community members have come together to form Discord servers and support groups to help ordinary citizens find homes.
Having a digital home to worry about—or a real home—is a big luxury. As the pandemic continues, unemployment will continue to rise, and vulnerable peoples will find it difficult to pay their rents. More than three million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. While some cities and governments have put a moratorium on evictions, there is a growing concern about how rents will be paid and if they should be paid at all. The homeless are in an extremely precarious position. It’s good news that you won’t lose your giant mansion in the Limsa Lominsa housing wards, but, as a reminder, there’s work to be done outside of Eorzea.