What if you eradicated all merchant NPCs from an MMORPG?
If you got rid of every single NPC, the economy will be reliant on how player plays the game and how they create the supply and set the pricing. One of the potential problems with that would be the lack of a fixed price for essential items such as potions, basic equipment and so on. Without control, the prices for these essentials may be unpredictable. It can become too low or become too high. If the price increases, it could be difficult for beginners at the start since they may be unable to afford them as easily compared to veteran players.
Once again, I would like to reference Atlantica Online and Goonzu Online since both their economic principles are almost the same. Almost every single available-in-game item is only available through PvE or crafting which requires material obtained from PvE with the exception of some basic items such as potions which the low level used. This gives a security cap to ensure that newbies do not have problem getting the basic essentials.
Could you conceive a fully player driven barter economy to be sustainable? I mean removing completely the concept of money for trade. You need to exchange items for items or make your own from raw materials.
I like the idea of a fully player driven barter economy. As interesting as it be, it may get a bit too troublesome for players. Imagine that someone would like to trade a short sword for a short dagger. However, I have a short bow, I am unable to trade with them and may have to trade a short dagger with someone else in order to get it. Despite that, it might increase the amount of interaction in the MMORPG.
Also, yes. It may require a large population base in order to achieve it so that players can easily get their materials and prevent item shortage.
I can see a lot of pressure being placed in the “production” players, a lack of a certain class could cripple the game (but prices should sky rocket for the unavailable items making the class more appealing so a balance should be achieved in the long run).
Referencing back to Atlantica Online, it has a crafting system such that there is no limitation to the amount of crafting skills you can learn. Some very profitable crafting skills may set you back economically when the player first starts learning the skill since the items that players need to produce is very unprofitable and can make a lot of losses.
For the modifiers available for the item, it could be such that the stats could be randomized and depend on the player skill as well as luck. Some eqs may have very high stats while others being weak. The better one naturally fetches a higher price.
What do you mean, "essential items"? Why does a potion need to be essential? Why can't it just be a perk?
Basic equipment is reliant upon definition. What do players need to start the game with? If they need all of this extra gadgetry/itemry, perhaps gear isn't the flaw of the game?
As for needing more money to do something before you can actually turn a profit? Doesn't this just provide extra benefit to rich players? New players need to be able to compete as well.