Sunday, 10 February 2013

Stockbroker Wars II

[Part of my Explorer of Tyria Journal]

One thing I dislike in MMORPGS are trading platforms where people can trade stuff to each other for currency remotely (ie. not being logged on, or on the same server etc). "What? But that's a feature!" I hear you exclaim, and yes it's true - all those shiney things we pick up from the floor or steal off dead corpses have to be good for something other than be shiney and collectable. My argument is they shouldn't be there in the first place and that players should instead only be able barter face to face with goods, consumable goods preferably. Herbs for a healing potion for ore to make a sword for example.

Sounds like a pain in the ass doesn't it? However compare it to say, Guildwars 2 where you have the Black Lion Trading post. You can put up anything you want for whatever price and the system will automatically handle searches and best deals for anyone looking for that particular item. Sounds like something that should exist only in space MMO's like EVE Online maybe. Even more, there are sites dedicated to tracking the rise and fall of the markets. Indeed, where previously you had to go delve into dungeons for riches or sell goods or services for coin now you can just leverage supply and demand your way to fortune. Indeed, if you are given some starting gold (in GW2) you could very well become extremely rich without ever levelling or interacting with any other player. Ever.

All these people are actually just playing GW2.

This is great for those who like playing the markets, but to quote one of the GW2 market devs: "Think about the total supply of money". Money is being created out of digital air everytime someone completes a quest, kills a critter (possibly), opens a chest, etc. As time goes on this means the value of money just drops and drops and drops as more of it enters existence. In response to supply and demand, a weapon on the trading post once being sold for 50 gold may now be going for 5000. Makes sense.

Now imagine being a newbie to the game, coming in when things are being sold for those exorbitant prices. The amount of coin dropped from critters, chests and quests haven't increased which means you have to work at an ever increasing pace (or get lucky with a super rare drop to sell) if you ever want to catch up to the status quo again. This actually hurts more if the new guy isn't a market player, because that means he's going to grind himself years into non existence until he either gets everything he requires by himself or enough gold to buy what he needs from the trade post. Ofcourse useful, important stuff isn't in npc stores. :P

Compare this to Ultima Online. There's probably enough gold in circulation there to drown all of Britannia by now, but inflation is not as bad because it is simply harder to find people so sell or buy from, and in my opinion - that's the way it should be. So in summary here are things I'd wish future MMO's try to do in regards to economy:

-less hand-held trading, no automated crap like the GW2 Black Lion Trading post
-controlled amount of gold at any one time
-or no gold at all, barter system only

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