Mind Gamez: Avoiding Economic Collapse in your Video Game part 2 - Destructoid

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Following last week’s post, I will briefly analyze three in game economies that have suffered economic difficulty and explain why. I will also follow some comments in the previous post and examine the Single player in game economy. Please note this is a follow up of a previous post and as such not all topics are fully explained here.

Team Fortress 2 (TF2)

When TF2 has an update that adds new items, the economy suffers a mini inflation. The new items become extremely expensive, due to demand, and crafting metals becomes more valuable as there is a high trade demand. In addition, it is impossible to directly work for an item and with the random nature of the crafting system there is often not enough supply to meet demand. Though, the inflation problem has become more manageable with the implementation of the Mann Co. store, as players are given an alternative way to obtain an item, thus enhancing supply, though some of the pricing decisions on Valve’s part seem odd. Eventually, the inflation ends and the new item’s price normalize based on the type of item it is.

(This Item was particularly popular during initial release, now rarely cheap)

RuneScape (Rune)

Right after the addition of the Grand Exchange (GE), there was a severe price fluctuation. This was due to a large majority of player switching from selling to npc shops (artificial price system) and using the GE. The prices in the npc shops are relatively stable and mostly ignore supply and demand. Also unlike the GE, the npc shops are local to one store only, while the GE is central and spans multiple servers. Suddenly, with the advent of the GE, players had an open market where prices can rapidly fluctuate based on supply and demand. There was a knee jerk reaction by the player bases to mass sell on the GE. After the players got used to the GE and stop the ramped selling and farming for items to sell, the price has mostly stabilized (largely based the GE). Though, this system is largely vulnerable to groups of people, particularly rich players, who attempt to artificially change the value of certain items in the GE, thought methods that are largely banned by Jagex.

(The GE is always crowed)


This game has a very complex economic system and it is suffering a large economic crisis. To be brief, the player base is dwindling in largely part to the economic problems. Also considering, IJJI’s business model it is hurting the game rather than helping it. First, IJJI tends to remove dying games and replace rather than fix them (transferred to another company). Second, IJJI tends to sells power and direct advantages to players though micro transactions (pre IJJI acquisition).

(IJJI has cut a lot of games over the years.)

Single player Economy

In a single player experience, there is no real economy, only the appearance of one. The developer does not need to worry about things such as inflations or supply and demand, as there aren’t multiple players to balance the game between. Also the money a player receives is far more controlled and it is possible to determine the amount of money an average player will have at given points in time. Thus pricing on commodities can be set as hidden goal or obstacles to overcome, as compare to acquire it by questing. Obtain X amount of money to get item A, through predetermined methods. For instance, in Psychonauts (Psycho) the cobweb duster is needed in order to complete the game; however it is requires a substantial amount of arrow heads to buy. In making the item particularly expensive, the player is force to explore the camp, collect items and interact with parts of the game outside the main story line (scavenger hunt).

(The Cobweb duster as seen in the store)

Money can also be used as a convenient way to distribute items to the player. Again in Psycho, there are candies called “dream fluff” that act as an emergency health restoration item. These candies are simply sold as opposed to using a more complex method of earning the item, thus allowing the player to get more at their leisure. The same can be said of the gun shops in the Grand Theft Auto series, the player could kill people to get their guns and deal with the work needed to retrieve it, or the player if they have the cash can simply buy what they need.
This concludes the examination of game economies for the forcible future. As always feedback is always appreciated and thanks for reading.
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