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The Social Hub: Looks Like a Good Year for Player Housing

Column By Christina Gonzalez on January 06, 2014

Some of my colleagues have already taken us through the year in MMOs that was in 2013 and shared a taste of what's to come and what we're anticipating. Like you, we're players who enjoy the genre and don't always agree on what's fun or what will hold our interests. What does stand out is what several of 2014's games (and games we expect to release this year) are doing on one particular front: housing.

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The Elder Scrolls Online, another game set for release this year, won't have player housing at launch, but it is possible later. That's disappointing, but for those of us who enjoy having somewhere to lay our virtual heads, there are some highlights from the year ahead of us.

Hey, even WoW is finally getting a form of housing!

Many have asked Blizzard to give players somewhere to call home for years now, and the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion will sort of fulfill that wish. The Garrisons feature is the end result of developers figuring out how to put housing into the game as a functional feature and not merely just housing. Garrisons will function effectively as player-controlled towns with NPC followers to recruit and actual content taking place inside. So, while the promise of housing will meet WoW at last, the heavy reliance upon NPCs probably won't quell the arguments that WoW (or any other themepark MMO) is now aimed at single players, but it does look to add some depth and give the community at least a form of a popular request after many years. That said, the new feature is a paid one (on top of a subscription), and it might not be exactly what WoW players have been asking for. Overall buzz on Draenor seems to be positive, especially after how mixed reaction was to Mists of Pandaria.

Extending the matter of housing as a paid feature will be Shroud of the Avatar. The game looks promising on multiple fronts, including the use of contextual clues in dialogue, and in having housing as part of the very world. But if you want to build in this world, you'll have to fork over real money in order to do so. Perhaps this is because the game is a crowdfunded one, and the traditional publisher budget doesn't apply. There also won't be any subscription fees or other associated fees once the game is out, so it makes sense that Portalarium will have to support itself and development in various ways.

In order to get a house, you'll need to purchase a lot and that meant pledging or buying an item called a Lot Deed in the shop. By making housing a premium feature, it is a bit jarring from the perspective of any player that might have expected or at least wanted the feature as part of a 'whole' game, but economic realities of where we are now in the MMORPG and MMOG game genres make the whole lot or pledge business make sense.

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