MMORPGs with limited digital real estate for player housing such as ArcheAge and Ultima Online may be hurting rather than helping the overall game, a new piece at Game Developer by Lars Doucet argues. The rush to grab land and the potential for real money investment make all of this a dicey prospect, according to the author: “I’m concerned these will lead to digital land speculation bubbles that will make players, developers, and investors alike lose stupid amounts of money.”
Ultima Online’s almost-24-year-old housing crisis on its most populated shards, which is due to an open world housing model and limited plots, was held up as a prime example, as was EVE Online’s galaxy. FFXIV’s infamous housing shortage, which we’ve covered extensively ourselves, was also mentioned: “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 black market for land.”
The author argues that virtual real estate differs from the real world in several respects, such as the ability to make more land, not having to respect physics, and not even requiring land as a necessary factor for gameplay.
Ultima Online’s Raph Koster responded to the piece with a number of notes. One of these mentioned that Star Wars Galaxies had plenty of room for housing but a limited number of desirable locales: “This latter topic opens up the issues like we had in Galaxies, where there was ample room for everyone to own a house if they chose – but people did things like build player cities atop the entrances to dungeons to monopolize access to resources.”
We’re guessing longtime MMO players can think of even more examples – we sure can!