Buying a house in Final Fantasy XIV sometimes feels as insurmountable a task as buying a house in real life.
Housing has been a hot commodity in FFXIV for years, as owning a house gives players a space to decorate and make their own. But with demand far outpacing supply, housing is one of the luxury items in Final Fantasy XIV.
But if you're lucky to get a house, you'll be glad to check out HGXIV, a fan podcast, and community that shines a spotlight on designers and provides essential resources like design guides, housing directories, designer portfolios, and more.
There are two big hurdles to purchasing a house in FFXIV. The first is the high cost, as the most basic plot of land starts at 3 million gil (the in-game currency), and larger plots can cost up to 50 million gil. What makes buying a house even more difficult is that it has practically become a game of chance, as players need to comb through residential wards and wait for plots to go on sale, then hope they can snatch it before someone else. A certain level of commitment to FFXIV is needed to even consider owning a house.
Square Enix has constantly tried to introduce new ways to get houses to more players, but even its most recent attempt with a lottery system was met with a crippling glitch that messed up the way winners were drawn.
Despite all the roadblocks, however, a vibrant community has popped up around the housing market, filled with dozens of virtual interior designers.
“When I first started to learn how to decorate, there weren’t many guides or resources online on how to do things. I would look on the FFXIV subreddit and sometimes people would post their houses, but where could I find more? I luckily was able to find a website called Housingsnap. It’s Japanese based (the Japanese housing community is HUGE) and users can post pictures, and it really changed how I looked at decorating,” says Ashen Bride, the founder of HGXIV, who adds that the podcast was created “from a desire to not only discuss housing and aspects that go into a design, like lighting, and themes, but to also offer transparency on how to make furniture.”
Countless housing portfolios can be found on Twitter and forums, and from a glance, everything might seem incredibly overwhelming. It’s hard to even know where to start, but that’s the entire reason HGXIV exists. “People joke that ‘Housing Savage’ is buying a plot in the first place but I would say decorating is truly where the suffering begins!” says Bride, who also offers a few tips to anyone looking to get their start.
“I would say if you’re brand new, the best thing to do is work within your limits, just set things down and sit and enjoy your space. Don’t rush yourself, or compare yourself to someone else, because everyone has their own skill sets and ways to make things. The space you’re making is for you and your friends to enjoy!”
HGXIV’s Discord has a robust set of options to help anyone of all skill levels, from a massive directory of designers that work for gil commissions to stop-motion “Break it Down” videos that go step-by-step through designs. Of course, if you’d simply like to hire a professional designer you can also do just that with HGXIV’s directory.
It’s a wide and vibrant community that’s welcoming to newcomers, and Bride herself doesn’t have any real-world interior design experience. They’ve been playing FFXIV since 2013 but didn’t get invested in the housing community until they had the chance to purchase a house after moving to the Famfrit server. This is when things finally started to make sense.
As Bride says, “I enjoy problem and puzzle-solving and sometimes the limitations of the furniture system can breed a lot of creativity from designers. Something about FFXIV and lego-ing furniture together just clicks in my brain.”
While HGXIV creates a fantastic resource for prospective designers, Square Enix still has some work to do to make housing more accessible to more players. Up until recently getting a house in XIV required a lot of time and patience, effectively requiring players to camp out at housing wards to try and find plots that would go up for sale.
The lottery system was supposed to make the whole process a bit more fair and, hopefully, a crackdown on the bots abusing the system. During the entry period of the lottery, players could pursue the housing wards and find a plot that they like. At that point, they can pay the requisite gil to enter the lottery, which randomly chooses a winner from all players that have entered.
This would, supposedly, make getting houses a fairer process across the board, and cut down on a single-player purchasing multiple housing lots. Anyone who doesn’t win will get their gil back. Glitches have put a damper on the whole lottery system, but Square Enix has been incredibly diligent about providing new housing wards and servers to open up more options.
There’s no easy answer to the problem, as Bride notes that a lot of the community has suggested “Instancing” housing, which would essentially give each player self-contained housing that only they and their friends could enter. However, Bride explains how this could also kill the illusion of permanence that housing wards have. “I also feel they want to keep the immersion of wandering a housing ward and standing around with friends,” they add.
On top of the core problem of getting a house, there are a lot of smaller improvements that could be made to the overall system to streamline design. “I love to decorate but the Housing Menu system is so outdated and clunky to work with.” In many cases, players have to break and “glitch” the game to get custom designs, like wanting to use a lamp for a floating light or putting a book on a bed. HGXIV has an entire section on its website that walks players through the various means of “glitching” and creating custom designs.
It’s amazing to see how XIV’s housing community has exploded over the last few years, and Bride thinks a large part of that is how the game targets a more casual demographic. “I’m not ashamed to say I keep a subscription at this point to log in, talk to my friends, and decorate a house. It creates a social aspect while also letting players show their creative side. I really enjoy going into someone’s house and being able to see parts of their personality and the things that they like,” says Bride.
FFXIV has helped create an important social space for so many players that feel isolated, whether that’s from their own life or the pandemic. It’s clear there’s an overwhelming amount of passion that goes into housing designs and the community, and if HGXIV can help even one other person find their passion, then it’s succeeded.
“Sometimes I think back about how I started out, and how I wanted to learn new designs and make friends with similar interests, but I was a bit lonely without a community. I’m happy if anything I put out there has made it easier for people in their housing journey to feel accepted and make friends.”
Check out IGN's Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker review for more coverage of Square Enix's hit MMO.
Hayes Madsen is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Inverse, Fanbyte, PCGamesN, and more. Hayes loves anything related to JRPGs and cats, especially if they're together. You can reach him @Solfleet on Twitter.