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Long Term Economic Problems

Sprigum's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 11:07 AM | #1
I know a lot of people could care less about the in game economy, the GTN, and generally making large sums of money.

Let me explain you, though, why this is an integral part of the game.

All games that have been successful long term have had a very viable economy that forces you to constantly consume. This means players constantly need to make money, aka they have to log in and do stuff with frequency or they'll not be able to afford the things they need to succeed.

This also means players will, to make money, use the auction house/GTN to make this currency to fund their own endeavors, whilst still providing goods for others to buy. It's a nice circular thing that tends to work very well.

Games that were a good example of this: WoW, EVE online, SWG, etc.

All these games had/have extremely good in-game economies. WoW does it with the constant needs to new enchants/gems/inscriptions/socketing which is all neccesary anytime you pick up a piece of gear. This drives in economy because you're constantly acquiring new and better gear.

In EVE when you die you lose your ship and any modules attached. This is a much harsher example, but serves the point. This won't carry over to star wars very well, but it's an extremely long lived game and I think a lot of that has to do with the economy setup by the player base, there is always incentive to acquire currency and thus always incentive to find ways to make more faster.

SWTOR has made some rather large mistakes in this area, and patched some of them in 1.2, but also shot themselves in the foot at the same time.

- Before Repair costs were high, which was GOOD. Now repair costs are extremely low, half of less of what they were. I'm a PvE player mostly, just FYI, so don't attack just yet.

Without high repair costs someone with 200k credits can literally do Operations for weeks without ever needing to make a single credit. This isn't really a great design. Players need to have other reasons to log into the game than for the Operations bosses.

- In 1.2 Orange [Augmented] gear has become BiS. Cool, I like that we can wear a variety of armor sets.

The problem with augmented gear is that its basically a one time deal, then you've got not only the look you prefer, but also a best-in-slot piece of gear. This creates a bad situation as well, because now you've taken these crew skill professions and made them virtually useless beyond the first purchase, now once you have a set of augmented gear, you'll never need another piece, from a performance standpoint you've got the best you can have.

So, Bioware has created a system where right now Augmented Custom armor is very expensive, but in two months it'll be 20-30k a piece. Cheap as dirt, because guess what.? Everyone that wanted the armor already has it.

So, how do we fix that? The 30k per mod cost to take stuff out of gear is a decent money sink, but then again what else will a raider have to spend their money on? They aren't paying repair bills to speak of, they're probably Biochem, they don't have to enchant anything, basically all they have to do when they get a piece of gear is pay 90k and they're back to being BiS. This will come back to haunt the game.

There is no emphasis on the Crew Skills. All the sockets come from Raid/PvP gear. All the Crew skills exist for basically is to make an Augment (once per piece of gear) and make the gear itself (only need to buy once!).

Basically Bioware has only implemented optional credit sinks for stuff people don't really care about. The Legacy credit costs are absolutely outrageous to begin with. People aren't going to spend three or four months worth of currency on something useless like a GTN in their ship, or a mailbox. Trying to fight inflation with things like these won't really work, but only a very small percentage of the population will even acknowledge that these things are worth that much money. Most of the others including myself look at that and say, "Wow, with 5 million credits I could pretty easily play the game for an entire year and never need to make a single credit."

I'm sure people will roll in here and talk about how they don't want to be forced to farm and they don't want to do anything but 'play' the game, and probably talk about how if they did it differently then they're promoting the sell of credits for $$$.

Ask yourself, if people want so badly to get at end game currency that they're willing to fork over their hard earned $$$, then isn't the economy working really well? I don't think gold/credit selling is legitimate and hate them as much as anything else, but if they were more prevalent I think that'd be a good indication that people are very interested in making money in game.

I'm going to TL;DR this for people who don't want to read through all this:

SW:TOR doesn't have a viable end game economy, and this is part of the reason population numbers are dwindling. People don't have a reason to log into the game besides doing an Operation or doing some PvP (and PvP is just bleh to the max after 1.2).

For the game to be viable long term the economy needs to be self sustaining, but at the moment we're basically making armor/items/weapons that will literally last us until they implement something with two augment slots. All MMO's that have existed for long periods of time have done so because they created a well balanced in game economy. SW:TOR currently doesn't have the balance necessary to sustain itself. aka Money will eventually devalue to the point where as long as you can repair and change sockets once in awhile then you basically won't need it anymore.

Sithhelmet's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 11:21 AM | #2
I agree with most of what you say, but I'll add that there are plenty of ways to get credits- people buy them simply out of laziness.

I'll also add that in the past two weeks I've put augmented armors- chest, legs, head- from Synth and Armormech for 20k each on the GTN for 48 hour sales. More than half came back unsold.

The already announced change in the future of adding augment slots to existing gear will remove all of the value left on making items other than a generic shell. Even if armormech/synth/armsmech make these as attachments (and the augments) that will make us one (two in this case) trick ponies. Provided, of course, that we even see the ability to make them outside a random drop and a random roll on that inside the latest operation... (WoW did that and aside from the most hardcore raiders who had a license to print money, no one liked having crafting gated to raids.)

In my opinion the whole system has lost track and it'll take a radical change to fix it, possibly even requiring an expansion to do so.

flyersfan's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 12:53 PM | #3
I agree that the game doesn't have a well-established economy. I generally avoid the GTN since it has nothing that I need other than the occasional piece for Forex or an Enhancement.

On the other hand, I don't consider it vital and am glad that I can get all my goodies through my guild and myself.

Sprigum's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 08:08 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Sithhelmet View Post
In my opinion the whole system has lost track and it'll take a radical change to fix it, possibly even requiring an expansion to do so.
I'm feeling this is nearly every aspect of the game at the moment, this is just one of those things that should have been ironed out conceptually before launch.

Population in game drops every week, we're kind of at the critical point where if developers continue to ignore issues the game is going to go through a *very* steep decline.

It's simple stuff like this that make me feel like the developers aren't trying to create a positive gameplay experience, but are instead trying to keep an appropriate amount of subscriptions that will continue to make the game profitable long term. I feel this more and more all the time.

At this point in Star Wars you log on to do an Operation or to PvP. There is quite simply no other reason to even enter world on a lvl 50 character. If the end-game for SW:TOR is to level alts for some half-baked legacy system then I'll just have to find something else to do with my time.

The developers have done nothing to make crafting, companions, or the legacy system in general attraction for anything in my honest opinion. Crafting and the in-game economy drive other aspects of the game and they've been largely ignored.

Cerion's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 08:44 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by Sprigum View Post
All games that have been successful long term have had a very viable economy that forces you to constantly consume. This means players constantly need to make money, aka they have to log in and do stuff with frequency or they'll not be able to afford the things they need to succeed.
nah...I disagree with your premise. Because of this, the rest of your post is moot.

I can name a number of games (and for arguments sake, I'll presume you mean MMOs) that are successful and don't really have much of an economy. You're trying to correlate the success of a game with its economy, when the only correlation that is evident is that FUN games are successful. Is it nice to have an economy? Sure, sometimes. Not necessary though. And there are games which have had solid foundations for an economy that have failed.

Here's a short list of successful MMOs which don't rely on a game economy to be successful:
  1. LOTRO
  2. DDO
  3. Wizard 101
  4. Battleground Europe: World War II Online
  5. DAoC
  6. EQ1
Good will always triumph because Evil is lazy.

Puppup's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 08:47 PM | #6
Few of those games on your list sure as heck had economies.

Cerion's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 08:57 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Puppup View Post
Few of those games on your list sure as heck had economies.
Please note that I said rely on an economy to be successful. That is the OP's premise.

His later example in his post is EVE Online, which I agree is indeed needed for that game to be successful. SWG was also a game that relied on an economy to be successful.

Not all games need it, however. Consumption isn't the driving force. They just need to be FUN.
Good will always triumph because Evil is lazy.

SuperQ's Avatar

05.04.2012 , 10:08 PM | #8
COH/COV was a great game for a long time and didn't have much of an economy, in fact they ruined the game to me when they implemented the augments or whatever the things you put into your costume to enhance your powers.