Ghost town, population you.

One feature either already in a MMO, or always talked about as ‘coming soon’ is player housing. Seemingly always difficult to implement, highly demanded, and always a hot button issue on forums, housing seems to polarize players almost as much as a good ‘raid vs solo’ debate.


Part of this is undoubtedly the IDEA of housing. Owning your own part of a virtual world has great appeal on paper, especially if you throw out the idea of being able to customize your dwelling to some degree. Housing also seems to provide a central meeting place for guilds and groups of friends. Again, the IDEA of sitting around in your personal castle planning the next raid or event stirs a lot of players minds.


In reality, many of the promised ideas and features generally don’t turn out as players hope. Housing quickly becomes a secondary bank, perhaps a weak version of The Sims house editing, or an altogether ignored zone that most players see no reason to visit. All that developer time spent for nothing, right?


World of Warcraft for a long time now has had housing rumors. Lord of the Rings Online has a set date for housing, coming this fall with chapter 11. Vanguard (I believe) was released with housing already in the game. The list goes on and on.


So is housing in a MMO really needed? Does a game get significantly better the day a player is able to buy property? From what I’ve seen in the games I’ve played, I would say no. Not since UO has housing really been needed. In Dark Age of Camelot housing was a barren zone you would teleport to if you needed something out of your storage chest or guild vault. It always felt like a ghost town, completely disconnected from the world. I say UO needed housing because that became a form of content. Some players set out to be renowned merchants, and a house with a vendor selling their wares was their way of accomplishing this. With the addition of auction houses in MMOs, gone are player run shops, at least for now. UO also had the major issue of over-development, with a house in every single free spot in the world, which no doubt was a major influence in keeping housing in its own zone. Why come up with a solution when you can sweep the problem under the rug (or in this case, in its own zone).


I’m curious how LoTRO and WoW handle housing. Both Turbine and Blizzard have unique ways of tackling known issues. Blizzard usually refines a problem; Turbine generally comes out of left field with a workable solution. Will we get the same old ghost town zones, or something innovative that adds a solid feature and sets a new standard for MMOs?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ghost town, population you.

  1. sal says:

    knowing blizzard, housing will probably be instanced

  2. Ikuturso says:

    Instanced is only sensible solution I see. Doesn’t mean you can show your den to friends – perhaps you could a group or raid could enter the house/guild house of the party/raid leader.

  3. Ikuturso says:

    change “Doesn’t mean you can show your den” into “Doesn’t mean you can’t show your den”.

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  5. syncaine says:

    I’ve got some ideas I’ll throw out tomorrow about housing. As much as it gets talked about, I think its a very under used concept.

  6. Pingback: World of Warcraft Strategy, News, and Information » The downfalls of player-created housing

  7. Coherent says:


    Player housing needs PURPOSE to flourish. It needs to be PART OF THE GAME.

    The reason player housing has always languished is because it’s just a square box (with decorations) that the player can stand in the middle of and stare at.

    Player housing needs to provide complementary elements of game play. Minigames, gardens, trophy display, internal and external house decoration, food preparation bonuses, free water supply, extra item slots, competitive events that require your presence at the house to participate… so many more possibilities.

    If the devs want a game feature (such as player housing) to SUCCEED, they simply need to compile a COMPELLING list of advantages and activities for players to enjoy by using the feature!


  8. syncaine says:

    Coherent, read the above blog post, and let me know what you think on the ideas in it.

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