The Daily Grind: Should player homes decay?

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The Daily Grind: Should player homes decay?
UO housing tiles
One of the issues plaguing player housing in MMOs is what to do with those houses after the player-owners have left the game or stopped paying for their subscriptions. In Ultima Online, the granddaddy of all MMO housing, your home drops to the ground if you haven't paid your sub in 90 days (and your shardmates can loot all your stuff in a grand free-for-all!). In Star Wars Galaxies, your house stayed standing until it ran out of pre-paid maintenance money, which worked pretty well to help the active players reclaim city space until maintenance was turned off for a few years in consideration for hurricane victims.

Even games with instanced housing feel the space crunch. In Lord of the Rings Online, failure to pay your maintenance fees in-game leads to the eventual return of your lot to the public pool and your having to buy back all your loot from an escrow NPC.

MMO developers are torn between the desire to lure back former players with the promise that their houses are still intact and the desire to keep the world, instanced or not, clear and open for paying or active players. So what do you guys think -- what should be the more dominant goal? If you step away from a game, should your character's home decay? And if it did, would you ever return to the game?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!
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