Guild Wars 2: The Trading Post is Down
Let's Talk About Game Economics
There has been a major criticism in Guild Wars 2 concerning the Trading Post being down. Arena Net has said that it is down for maintenance and that it is a technical issue. I personally think a lot of this is because they don't want to perform a lesson in economics to people who think they already know everything concerning video games.
Virtual game world economies mirror the real world economy in major ways. So knowledge in one will help you with understanding the other. With that in mind, lets look at a basic model for how game world economies work.
The basic idea is that every hour, the game world can produce x amount of resources based off of the population.
The first kind of resource created is the in game currency. When a game first launches, everyone is getting small amounts of coin, because the mobs and quest, events, ect. drop small amounts of money and the vendor trash is worth very little.
The second kind of resource is crafting materials, these are made by nodes and are gathered by the community. Their value is based off of the age old formula of supply and demand. Quick note here, as the value of currency is lessened by the influx of coin generated by the game, so the values will be incredibly unstable.
The third resource is finished goods, both created by the server and by the players. These are the weapons, armor, buff foods, ect. that the players actually use. They are the true value in the economy, it is them that the other two resources are used to obtain.
You Have to Control Inflation
In any economy you have to control inflation. This is most easily done by removing currency from circulation. Video games do this with what is most easily identified as gold sinks. Some common forms of gold sinks are:
And other games get more creative with it. But one thing to note with almost all gold sinks, is that to some degree they are all required. This ensures that the currency leaves the economy, at a rate equal to each toons development. If you create a toon that never makes it to the point of needing a mount, then it hasn't had time to generate enough raw currency from the server to warrant needing to have some removed through gold sinks.
What the Trading Post actually does.
When you get down to it, What the trading post does is take the money that remains in circulation, and allows it to travel around the community to move the other two remaining resources. That's all it does. But here is just a thought on this.
If you start moving that currency around too soon, you will cause problems. First the value of the other commodities will be volatile. Here is an extreme example:
If the servers were open for 2 hours, and in that time only two players where playing, one managed to get 20 pieces of copper ore, and the other managed to get 1 unit of in game currency. To trade, one would have to spend all the money in the game. In comparison to vendor items, it makes the copper ore worthless.
So by keeping the trading post down, Arena Net is giving the community time to generate money from the servers, level toons, and create a demand for more than just one tier of goods. You ever see how much ore and cloth sell for at the beginning of a World of Warcraft expansion? Think the same cut throat market in an economy that has yet to generate a few hundred gold.
When it finally does come up there will be a demand for at least a few different tiers of goods, there will be enough money in the world to have the prices stable, and people will instantly feel like they are in an established economy, because they will be.
Say What you Want...
But this game's launch has been near flawless, and I think this is part of design, not a flaw. Maybe, this company that reformed what the success model is for an MMO has a idea or two on what an economy in a game world needs, and this is their solution to start up woes.
Do you really think a game company that could make this expansive world, the dynamic events, and everything else, really failed in the coding needed to implement a feature that is in almost every other game?
Maybe, just maybe, they are smarter than you think, and if you still think they are idiots, that may just mean they are smarter than you.
Well not you my reader of course, the empirical you, meaning those not as educated as yourself. Please come back, next time, there will be cake.