Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why there is no player housing?

Several MMOs have player housing. Players can buy a land, build a home, decorate it. It gives them lot of things to do, and many of these are creative, entertaining activities.

Many-many WoW players suggested the same and Blizzard always refused it. It's strange, considering Blizzard wants to create a "casual-friendly" game, and what can be more casual than furnishing your little home. It does not need pre-scheduled activities, it's not bound to any button-mashing skill or reading EJ or whatever. You just buy or craft a pretty vase, place it to your table, put some flowers in it and enjoy its view every time you come home.

I found the reason for its non-existence in a paper describing Ultima Online's economy: "Players may construct houses in UO. Much like the real-world, obtaining housing is considered a major sign of achievement and advancement. These houses range from humble abodes to grand castles. Some houses include tools utilities such as metal forges which make them more akin to small factories than houses"

The success of WoW is not because it's casual-friendly. It's because it's social-friendly. As I've told many time, casual and hardcore can live together happily, not disturbing each-other. It's the social who messes things up.

A house of the casual would be a nice example of creativity and fun. Carefully selected furniture, places for minipets, RP-ing settings could be inside. The house of the HC would be a place of utility with crafting equipment, personal target dummy, pre-arranged bags with resistance equipment, maybe some trophies. Everyone would be happy!

NO! The social would not be happy. He doesn't want nice or useful house. He wants a "sign of achievement and advancement". Some socials would farm day and night to build bigger, taller or more ornamented homes. The average socials (mostly M&S) could not compete and be frustrated every time he'd pass by the house.

There is a genius in implementation of mounts. While some of the mounts are status symbols to their owners (therefore huge motivator for socials), they are quite similar to other mounts, so the average social doesn't know that the other guy have something rare. He won't feel bad every time when a 20K Mammoth passes by since it's almost the same as the badge mammoth or the Archavon mammoth. Only those who cared to get one can see the difference between the "cheap" and the "real" ones.

On the other hand a bigger house is bigger. A castle is "cooler" than a cottage, not doubt here. And above all, it's persistent. Even if one knows the difference between the "real" and the "cheap" mammoth, he is only exposed to the sight of Mammoths when the owner is online at the same spot as him and on the Mammoth. There may be thousands of "real" mammoths on the server and I may see not a single one during a 3 hours playing session. On the other hand a home is always there. Imagine that every time you fly to Dalaran you'd pass over a land full of expensive castles. There would be hundreds and none of them is yours.

A casual could not care less, he would be happy with the newest addition of cuties. The HC would comment a "so much grind for nothing" and craft some more consumables for the next raid. But the social would be very frustrated. In his ape-mind all those castle-owners would be better than him and he couldn't bear it.


Anonymous said...

so why not make the player housing like mounts then?

Anonymous said...

like a regular mammoth and a 20k one,

a regular castle (for casuals with pets and junk) and one for the others (with the target dummy etc)

Anonymous said...

why would you live in a mount there are no windows

Redem said...

The obvious solution, then, would be to make housing instanced. M&S wouldn't be confronted with things they would never earn, any more than they are with high end raiding gear or rare mounts.

I would love me a nice castle, though.

Sean said...


Often, when trying to find out the reason why something is not done, the simplest explanation is usually the right one.

Blizzard doesn't want to spend resources developing player housing because they believe that the amount of benefit they get would not offset the cost.

In order words their benefit/resource analysis indicates that player housing is not worth it.

Better benefit/resource efforts off the top of my head: class balance, raid dungeons, etc.

Niz said...

I agree with Redem here. Blizzard could develop an instance with some kind of personal ID and guild ID, similar to the normal and heroic settings for instances.

But probably Azzur is right in some way.

Unknown said...

this is one of the rare occasions when I have to agree with a commenter (Azzur in this case), and not Gevlon... :)

And I think they want to keep WoW more "unique" (not the right word for this but couldn't come up with a better one), ie. if you wanna build a house and decorate it go buy Sims.

I think 99% of the subscribers (M&S and non-M&S alike) would agree that Blizzard better spend their time with other game enhancing activities

RaveLine said...

well, i think azzur is right. And this time, gevlon is wrong:

You can skip your problems just in giving everybody his free castle for "not too much effort" - aka welfare epic like it worked several times in wow.

Housing needs a huge amount of ressources / workers / servers etc. WoW has 11 mio. subscribers, UO for example has 150k? You cannot compare this systems for housing...

In my opinion, the 2nd reason why ther is no housing is, that they have no "function" for it. In WoW, every big gamepart is connected. They still mix PvP and PvE (fe 1k Winter & it´s raid), they do everything that you can reach the "ultimate goal" (aka gaining respect for M&S, mastering a Game for Hardcores) in different ways.

This solution in housing would look like:

You have to integrate housing in game flow, with quests, achievements and rewards! The only thing "vase & flowers = happy" works for the sims, but not for wow.

You Raid Anub Arak 25er Hardmode and get "The uber head of freakin hardcore pve Bossmob" and can put it at your door, gaining a nice buff / repair for less / no gold, nice buff-food etc. But only, when you ACTIVATE that head. If not, it only looks nice & evil, showing everybody you killed him.

The activated uber-head could be stolen by a (huge) quest-chain from another guild, gettin the buffs / rewards for themselves. After the robbery, everybody is red-flagged besides their own houses. This would be damn cool...and i have hundrets of other ideas in it how to create a game in game just with housing...

You got it. quite a "CTF" game in the game - with huge boosting of guilds.

Just give housing only to guilds. Not too much houses, but nice rivality between guilds. And the M&S guild will get the uber Castle of pwnage, too - but with no function in the game besides e-peen....

nicolada said...

First of all, it's nice to read about some aspect of the game I've never thought about (maybe cause I don't care about cosmetics).

Instead of player houses, what do you think about binded to guild buildings? Would it motivate the social-friendly even more.

Flex said...

Personal housing is antisocial in another way:

A house with functionality such as vendors etc allows players to be online without ever seeing each other.

Which means less standing around in Dalaran preening and showing off mounts,
which means less people wanting said mounts,
which means less people needing to grind for said mounts,
which means less to do in the game,
which means less subscribers,
which kills WoW.

Davide said...

Well, it seems obvious to me that Azzur is right. The point is, Gevlon is one (or more) step ahead of him.

Of course "they believe that the amount of benefit they get would not offset the cost"! But the question is: why? What kind of evaluation did they made about the estimated benefit of player housing? Azzur give no answer at all, Gevlon do.

Have a nice day. :)

Pazi said...

HC-guilds would so use housing for their guilds to show their trophies (or why are they so eager to post their first-kill-videos, because they want to show off).
Housing would be a great opportunity for goblins I'd say. Blizzard on the other hand thinks that making gold in wow is not the primary goal so they don't want to help goblins. How's that for a theory?

Wooly said...

Unless I get my own "Teleport: House" spell, I couldn't care less. Oh, and the house should have a standard portal back to Dalaran too, otherwise I'd just be wasting hearthstones.

Simply put, housing wouldn't have any proper use within the Warcraft game mechanics, unless they'd make some rule so going home every now and then was mandatory (I wouldn't like that). They'd have to change lots to make it work, and I can't see any benefit. We're all adventurers and warriors, the inns are our home, I'm fine with that.

Medwards said...

They will probably implement housing in the 5th or 6th expansion.

Ayonel said...

Never thought of it before. Don't see much point to it. I suppose that the trophy thing is a nice egotistical touch, but I'd never be in the place, so no one would ever seen any of the crap. Blizz has already made being in the cities trivial for getting work done, so even optimizing your own space is of marginal value at best.

Carra said...

That's not why Blizzard does not add housing.

On one side, it's a technical problem. There is no room in the world for 10.000 houses. You could instance them but that will feel weird.

On the other side, I agree with Azzur. They probably think it's not worth their development time.

Not that Blizzard is completely against it. They have been hinting at guild houses before. And I think a guild house would be more fun too. There would be other people to start with;

Sharonrha said...

Player housing should'nt be implemented. First of all, if you don't make it instanced, there would be a MASS of houses standing around. Some people just wanted to try, now there's their house, but they actually don't "use" it. And instanced? Why shoul I bother buying a house of my own, when no one can see it...(my opinion as a hc)

Guild housing is a nice idea in my opinion. But why would a guild want an own house? The casual-guild would be happy with decorating, a hc-guild could place there their trophies or having there some utility. But what about a social-guild? Does a social-guild even exist? I think not...but what do I know...

Nils said...

Guild housing:
Just offer several houses for weekl rent and to the highest bidder. This way you can draw money out of the system - you can have a constant number of houses that go only to the really dedicated guilds (dedicated to have an own house). Therefore the guild house would be craed for and great to visit for non-members. No need to instance it if you have a constant number fo houses, like 50, somewhere in orgrimmar on in the countryside at well choosen locations. They can be big, small, etc .. I honestly don't see why they don't do this.

And please, please stop this social/ratioal people differentiation. It's stupid, wrong, superfluous, self-deceiving ..

David said...

You're right, housing in the world would never work. Even apart from what you mentioned, I don't think there's enough land in the world to cover all the people who'd want a house.

I think the Final Fantasy XI approach to housing may be interesting. They had instanced housing. It was just a portal to an apartment-like zone.

I'd love to be able to have a bust of onyxia on my wall after I killed her.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

My shameful little secret is that I collect armor tier pieces in the hopes that Blizz will implement Player Housing and let me put in Armor stands to display them on.

That ain't gunna happen. I should just vendor that junk.

Let's learn from history, shall we?

UO's player housing was an unmitigated disaster, just like their 'Smart NPCs'. Entire areas looked like slums with houses stacked in like cordwood. People would place houses just to block other people from getting into their houses. Sure, they fixed some of these problems... but not before the damage was done.

EverQuest II introduced instanced housing. Everyone essentially got an apartment they could furnish. You couldn't put anything truly useful in there, and in order for anyone to see it, you had to invite them in. Since socials don't like having their noses rubbed in the successes of others, they had ho reason to go to a better house.

Dark Age of Camelot had 'Housing Zones' with finite numbers of plots. You would set up guild houses or crafting factories (Mine was awesome... fully loaded with crafting tools. I quad-boxed perfect armor and sold them for obscene amounts on my personal vendor). But... not so good for the socials for the same reason as Everquest II's instanced apartments.

Star Wars Galaxies used the UO model except that you could only place your house miles from the totally empty city that... had no houses in it. Or, you could team up with other players to construct ghost towns that noone else has any reason to go to. Crafters had a reason to build houses, but no one else did.

I haven't played any of these games for a while... so I have no idea if they've fixed these issues. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Basically. Player housing doesn't work well. It SOUNDS like a good idea, and is good for guilds and crafters, but not socials, and for the very reasons Gevlon points out.

Kristine Ask said...

@Iiene of Kul Tiras

Very interesting to read about housing in other games, and atleast part of your conclusion is spot on

"Player housing doesn't work well. It SOUNDS like a good idea[...]"

The following should ideally have been "... but then good ideas can turn to shit when put to practice."

There is nothing in your argument that points towards the problem being the dreaded socials. The big problem with housing seems rather to be that they have been added as an afterthought. They dont have a central place in the game and have little real impact, function or value in the game.

If housing were made an integral part of the game (just like the AH, the bank, the mailing system, battlegrounds etc etc) then it might be a different matter.
Game features that don't grant any benefits, functionality or give any personal meaning - will simply not be used.

Bad design will be bad design, regardless if the person who use it is social or not.

Klepsacovic said...

You're stretching things a bit. The type of person in question can easily differentiate between tiny differences in appearance if to them they signify larger differences in perceived worth. So they do see a huge difference between the mammoths. They would see the same with housing and would likely complain just as much as they do currently. But WoW has never been about them. That is why we have cheap mounts and expensive mounts, faction mounts and 1000g exalted mounts. There are many ways to explain why WoW has no player housing, but this isn't a very good one.

Tone-the-bone said...

@Liene- I disagree with the assessment of SWG.

My guilty secret is that I am a SWG refugee. I would still be playing that game today if SOE didn't completely ruin it with their changes. Granted the cities were "empty" of houses, but if you rode out not that far outside the city limits, you would see a whole new city of homes and shops, where individual crafters would sell stuff you actually needed. Once they put in shuttleports, there were whole merchant cities. Mega-crafting malls. It was fun to just have a house, decorate it, put a bunch of your gear in there. And people could wander in and see what you had going on. If you liked professions, there was nothing as satisfying as making your own store from the stuff you sold and have repeat customers.

I don't know if any game will ever come close to that again, but I really loved the SWG mechanics, the profession-based system, the housing. Granted, the world felt a little empty, but I think that's because it was developed as a shell (i.e. "sandbox") that more and more content would be added into. Unfortunately, SOE ended one of the best MMOs by trying in vain to turn it into something it wasn't. (i admit their jedi and content implementation left alot to be desired, but the underlying skeleton of that game was fantastic- vehicles, space travel, etc.) Imagine the SWG shell in the hands of a competent game developer. Ce'st la vie.

wtfever said...

Castles should be restricted to a guild structure. Within the castle could be rooms for the guildies. A battle room with dummys, a trophy room for guild progress, stables, vendors, portal room, and maybe a room to practice raid positioning and strategy (war room), each person could have their own room, with personal trophys. Naturally the castle would be the ultimate purchase, I would say over 750k would be a good starting point. Maybe even some specific quests to gather a certain amount of materials to build the thing.

Jeff said...

DAOC had housing, cheap ass ghettos as far as the eye could see. Also it meant that people and guild's hung out in housing instead of in cities, so the idiot quotient in cities went way up because they could not afford housing (DAOC had a cost to build, cost to upgrade, and cost to maintain) One of Blizzard's reasons is that it will negatively impact the "Social" part of the game, people won't hang out in cities, talk to each other, etc. IMO this is exactly what happens.

Fuubaar said...

Flex is correct.

Blizzard has already stated why they wont implement this idea & that is because of one reason and one reason alone: Emptiness.

Where are the most people in the game?

Dalaran & the major cities.

What do you think would happen if they implemented an AH in Dalaran? (Other than the Engineering one) The major cities would take a major hit & become ghost towns just like Shatt. People would spend more time in their own houses or instanced locations rather than circling around Dalaran. People would disappear and many "socials" would feel no reason so stick around the game.

Anonymous said...

They can use the apartments in CoT... they appear to be available.

dozenz said...


Do you think it would be possible for one Goblin to take out another Goblin on a server? Or would both Goblins eventually reach a standstill with slightly reduced profits than before.

I'm not referring to the situation with two Goblins on one server competing as expected, but with one Gooblin specifically trying to bankrupt/destroy/oust the other.

With the very open economy is this even possible?

Bri said...

Some other commenters had mentioned it.. I'll expand on that. There's no player housing for the same reason there's no AH in Dalaran -- you'd empty the cities of high-level players. And high-level players, with their glowy swords and shiny shoulders and impressive mounts, are the carrots-on-a-stick for the lower level players, a goal for them to reach for. Removing the level-cap players from view would be bad for the game overall.

Anonymous said...

I once played another MMO and before player housing came along, everyone would go to a specific city, sit around, talk, craft their items and socialize. Once player housing came along, that crafting city was abandoned. People were able to equip their houses with anvils and whatnot to make their wares as well as sell those wares at their individual houses. The game, in itself, became less social and more void.

I don't believe that's a situation Blizzard wants for WoW.

Hinenuitepo said...

I agree with Fuubaar.
My initial reaction was, "people wouldn't spend time in the cities."
If you could hearth to your home (instanced probably) and use the forge there, why would you go to the forge in a city? Same for labs etc.

I don't know if it would overly dramatic in the sense of ruining the game, but it might make the cities even more 'lonely.'

I like the idea of guild houses, which could be instanced, and even accessed through the same portal as the guild bank. I suspect those might be wildly popular, but with the same effect of emptying areas like the AH bridge in Ironforge or the bank areas of Dalaran.

I also agree with others that have concluded Blizz simply doesn't see it worth it in a cost/benefit analysis, but also that Blizz has a habit of trickling in things people want in various updates and patches. So we still may see this someday.

Jingo said...

The unused gated-off instance portal in Stormwind was supposed to go to player housing, which I remember them discussing around 4 years ago.

Bristal said...

I also think housing would detract from the MMO gaming experience. I'm certainly not a "social" player, but I like coming back to a hub and seeing crowds of players. It makes the game unique and suggests a sense of community.

Having players hearth back to a private instance, or a sprawling city full of housing would definitely affect the game's atmosphere adversely for me.

Anonymous said...

You're kind of beating on a corpse at this rate. We get it, you loathe the M&S, most of us do too. You don't have to come up with posts like this to say the same thing you did with your other posts. Sure its a different question, but the answer is the same.

In the spirit of constructive critisim, whatever happened to the profession analysis thing you had going on? I'd rather read something actually productive or even related to economy (not necessarily WoW gold) instead of another M&S bashing. In all fairness its no fun when you don't get to see their sad faces.


Anonymous said...

by your definition most of the good guilds on my server are "social".

I think you need to revise your definition. Wanting achievement and advancement is a human thing it has nothing to do with casual vs hardcore.

True socials are those that only play the game to be social.

Rich said...

Instance personal ID housing like ROM (not that WOW would ever want to be like ROM) but it is simple - you speak to a house maid and she ports you to your house. There are house maids in every major city, town , village. You have things you can buy from vendors or off they AH that can be used in your house. You can utilize your mailbox in your house, and buy extra personal storage. You can have an open invitation system (again like ROM) that allows certain people to instance to your house. Seems simple to me.

Anonymous said...

With the introduction of player housing could come the introduction of a new profession: Housing Designer.

A mixture of Architect/Interior Architect/Landscape Architect, the Housing Designer could be employed to add not only form but function to your house. Professions could specialise into different Design styles e.g. Modernism, Art Deco, Tudor etc etc. Not only would your epeen become strong and mighty using the Housing Designer, but it would also be a lovely shade of Lavender :)

But seriously, I love the idea of guild housing (especially tied into the proposed Guild achievement system), but player housing just won't work for the reasons stated by Gevlon and other posters above.

Anonymous said...

You have probably said this before but i can't find it anywhere on the site, what is your definition of these 'socials' you hate so much? Are they people who enjoy socialising in game? Are they something else?

Irghen said...

I see no way Housing would add anything to my gameplay.

Not even to my e-peen, achievements take care of that already.