Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Game Economics, Redux

As I recently mentioned, I find the notions of scarcity and economics in MMO games interesting. I've been doing some very informal playing around on DOFUS, using two means to attempt to crash a market. There's a particular few items that a reasonably high-level farmer who's organised and has the right skills can produce that other characters cannot, and these items sold for a fairly high price despite the cost of production/raw goods being fairly low (both come down to time/effort, which is one of the truest "scarcities" in any economic system, even if it's also an oddball). I'm making large amounts of the item and testing three different means to crash the market:

  1. Simple supply of large amounts of the item in the market at far below market prices (one unit of the item costs me about ten seconds and 1 kama to make, kamas being the in-game currency, and the object tends to sell at about 70 per unit - I have been selling them at around 28 per unit)
  2. Telling large numbers of people not to pay more than X for the item because they're being ripped off - ties into another matter I'm interested in -- the effect of percieved reasonable cost on elasticity of demand (particularly relevant because in the real world, we routinely buy items that have a marginal cost of less than a dollar with figured investment cost not raising the true cost much higher, often paying $20+ for such items. I don't think the "value" or "reasonable cost" bears much more than a loose resemblance to benefit to people for nonessential items, and that a lot of this is floating largely on its own, easily manipulable through means like this
  3. Leaving the items out in the open or giving them out for free in select places
  4. And .. more variants on the above.

Observations so far:

  1. The establishment either tends to buy and re-sell the items I make at higher prices or in some cases sticks around in the sellrooms to threaten me when I do the first. In some ways, this reminds me of the Luddite movement in England (although unlike the real Luddites, people will not starve from loss of their "livelihood" on a videogame (except for those poor unfortunates who work in one of the (very weird to me) MMO sweatshops, perhaps))
  2. Moderate success so far
  3. Profit!
  4. The items are actually teleport potions that take people to other cities, cities with markets of their own, one of which is known as a very poor place to try to sell things, another of which is known as a fantastic place to sell things - much better than the "starting" city in some ways. It's not hard for one reasonably dedicated person to play with the cost of a single (well, really two very similar..) item, but I'm going to see if I can manage to set in motion changes that will flip the relative market activities of the cities by manipulation of market prices of each potion as well as more social engineering. In a sense, these objects are public transit tokens :)

I'm curious how much the market system, which is more anonymous in some ways than real life, protects vendors who would do this kind of thing (well, excluding my intent, obviously). As of present, the only way other vendors can ID me is by being in the salesroom when I'm restocking, either by chance or by noticing that suddenly their sales notifications stop arriving.


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