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Anyone know any cases of deflation in an MMORPG economy?

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I have seen a lot of hyperinflation cases, to the point where the in-game currency becomes useless and people trade using items instead. (Diablo 2 for example, where the best ring in the game, SOJ, becomes the currency) Have anyone heard of deflation and the harmful effects? What ills would hyper-deflation brings to the game economy? I guess it is hard for a game to face deflation since money creation continues 24/7 through mobs, quests etc.

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Yeah, I don't think there are any examples of deflation for that reason. Resources are perpetually injected into the economy by the necessity of (a) ensuring newbies have enough resources to play, and (b) to allow other players to generate value via crafting etc, so it's a scenario that doesn't crop up much.

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I have seen occasional temporary deflation (over weeks and months) or deflation specific to certain items or groups of items. I don't think they are significant for the economy, though.

Deflation usually only occurs in presence of
a) exploits, item dups, etc.
b) rare item hype and seasonal lack thereof
c) item nerfs, even insignificant ones (psychology!)
d) increased drop rates of ultra-rare items
e) introducing a new feature which is not properly planned (which indirectly results in point d)

Other than that, you will most likely only ever see inflation, even in games which do a very harsh money drain all the time (those only spoil the fun for beginners, but don't solve the problem).

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There are too many economies to track now, but there are a few interesting reads that you might want to look at:

Here is one on the UO economy
This is one by a university professor on virtual economies

UO's economy is a good one to look at because it is well documented. There are several cases that because of DUP's that deflation occured, so they actually had to find ways to inflate the economy again, rather than wipe stuff. Finding creative ways of adjusting the economic flow in a game is almost always a better alternative than wiping or rolling back. Just like with the cases of deflation, the opposite has occured. MMO economies should never be static, and the devs should always be monitoring things to keep the inflation/deflation occurrances to a minumum, and there are smart ways to do this so it doesn't occur. As they point out with UO, however, a fix takes longer to produce than the exploit, so the best laid plans of mice and man oft times go awry...

Also, check out what Radu has to say on the subject. That is not the only source of information regarding small MMO's and their economic problems, though. Let me know if you want more... I've always got more.

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Final Fantasy XI has been experiencing overall deflation for something like two years now.

The developers constantly shrink the money pool via mass banings and nerfing income sources in an overbearing attempt to drive out RMT. This has combined with a high degree of item persistence (i.e. once created, items tend to stay within the game economy) to drive prices in a downward spiral.

To top it all off, there is still strong RMT activity, because the game's design encourages the market for RMT services. All they've really done is driven up the market price for their in-game currency. (FFXI gil right now sells for about 12 times more than it did in December 2005, at the height of the game's inflationary period.)

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I think many game economies have both inflation and deflation in the case of different items. Rare drops that many players want or items that were issued for a time but no longer are pretty much always have absurdly high prices. Common drops, quest rewards, craftable items, and useless items, and especially items that are resellable after being used, usually plummet in price, although a low cap can be established by the item's npc sell price.

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Can't recall any deflation in any of MMO's I found. That is if your not counting brnad new servers starting out. However I can recall a time when I was playing WoW one guy acquired so much gold he bought out everything on the Auction House and re-sold it for 10 times more. His account was later banned and the Auction House was down for about a day.

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Wurm Online seems to be in a rather deflated state most of the times. I haven't really played lately, but they tend to have their economy go in rather random cycles. The problem is a shortage of coins in the game, and how their cash sinks work. The main use for coins is to pay upkeep for the guards on your deeds, and the idea was that you pay real world money to buy enough silver coins each month to pay for the upkeep, and then any gold you earn in game would be used for trade. While sounding good on paper, it is proving that most people don't really want to pay for a character AND deed upkeep every month, so most of the cash that was suppose to be used for trade gets hoarded away.

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Widespread deflation? Not possible in a MMORPG without some interaction from developers. Temporary? Sure. WoW has had several when I played a couple years ago. The problem just comes from more people in the economy and they have their own resources piled into it, inflation is inevitable without interaction from developers.

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Quote:
Original post by Jerky
There are too many economies to track now, but there are a few interesting reads that you might want to look at:

Here is one on the UO economy
This is one by a university professor on virtual economies

UO's economy is a good one to look at because it is well documented. There are several cases that because of DUP's that deflation occured, so they actually had to find ways to inflate the economy again, rather than wipe stuff. Finding creative ways of adjusting the economic flow in a game is almost always a better alternative than wiping or rolling back. Just like with the cases of deflation, the opposite has occured. MMO economies should never be static, and the devs should always be monitoring things to keep the inflation/deflation occurrances to a minumum, and there are smart ways to do this so it doesn't occur. As they point out with UO, however, a fix takes longer to produce than the exploit, so the best laid plans of mice and man oft times go awry...

Also, check out what Radu has to say on the subject. That is not the only source of information regarding small MMO's and their economic problems, though. Let me know if you want more... I've always got more.


WOW these are GREAT links! Will keep me occupied for a while, THANKS! :)

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