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Dude! Where's My Auction House?

6 Oct 2010

So, I’ve been trying to give things a chance, especially with the Market Wards.  Many things in FINAL FANTASY XIV were done right, or have a great foundation and starting point for great things to come. Market Wards is not one of them.  Simply put, entering a Market Ward is a nightmare.  It is impossible to find anything you are really looking for, and most people are selling the random drops from mobs that they should be NPCing, or holding onto until they have complete stacks.  FINAL FANTASY XIV is in desperate need of an Auction House.  The development team made an announcement that they will be organizing market wards in an upcoming version update.  I’m not sure what they think this will really solve.  It will still be up to players to place their retainers in the right wards, and most retainers sell a variety of items which will probably not fit into a single ward’s descriptive name.  Without a search and buy function, I fear the Market Wards are will quickly turn people off from this game.  The economy will have extreme difficulty stabilizing.  Searching through market wards is a very slow process and it makes it nearly impossible to compare prices between different vendors.  You can literally spend hours in the Market Wards and still not be sure the item you are looking for is even being sold by anyone.

The development team has heard cries from around the world for an Auction House since open beta began and has yet to communicate to the community if one is actually even on the way.  All we have are promises of market ward updates, which in the end will not actually solve the problem that every single player is experiencing.  FINAL FANTASY XIV will be largely seen as a failure.  A time line of when we can expect an Auction House would be welcome, and would probably prevent players from canceling their subscriptions before the free trial period is up.  It may be time to call the retainer/market ward system a failure and just give the players what have been demanding.  I don’t think you can talk to a single player who has not felt the pain we call Market Wards.  The MMO industry is very competitive and it is universally accepted that an auction house is necessary for an economy to work.

Don’t get me wrong, retainers can be a neat feature to the game, and the system should not be entirely scrapped.  Retainers are a form of storage for you and can hold 80 items.  That’s an improvement from starting storage in FFXI.  You can somewhat customize your retainer too, depending on the race/clan and where you hire them.  They can even seek and buy things for you!  But wait, they can only purchase items for you which you already have in your inventory.  And only for the amount which you have!  If you want 10 wind shards, you need 10 wind shards.  My retainer is going to have just as hard a time finding that polearm I’ve been trying to buy for the last week as I am having.  Who thought of this?  If you want more retainer storage, you’re gonna have to pay for it too.

Another problem is that player’s are idling and bazaaring in groups in different places.  They are cluttering up places like Rosewood and Ebony Halls in Gridania.  They are sitting outside the Market Wards.  This seems to be what the Market Wards were intended to prevent – it’s not working.

Being someone who runs a large community site, I want to see this game succeed.  I am having a hard time keeping my own friends interested, never mind the entire community.

I think most players can see past the occasional bugs which are still present in the game (party members displaying 0 HP/MP for example), but when something as major as an Auction House is missing from the game without any announcements for when it might become available, player’s may not want to stick around for very long to see what this game has potential to offer.  I am not sure how long people will wait.  Other MMOs are scheduled for release next year and PS3 release is probably too long.  Now, there actually is an Auction House icon in Limsa Lominsa.  But speaking with the NPC standing by the door to this place, it almost seems like SQUARE ENIX is making a joke out of auction houses.

"From behind these walls can oft be heard the screamings and moanings of the innocent souls lured into eternal torment."

Not exactly a message saying SQUARE ENIX wants us to have an Auction House.  I did not realize Auction Houses were torment.  While transportation is starting to become an issue where player’s are burning through Anima, we can wait for Chocobos and we can wait for airships.  At least we see them in the game and know they are coming.  We cannot continue to grind away in our noob gear clinging on to any mediocre piece of equipment we can get our hands on forever.  Not everyone wants to skill up 3 crafts so they can make a spear.