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Why do games not have items 'one sale' in their stores

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Many games have in-game shops where you can buy gear. But I just realized that hardly any game has items that are temporarily 'on sale', i.e. sold for less than the normal price. I'm talking strictly about things you buy with in-game money.

 

Decker that this mechanic hidden in its shop. Basically you can always order all items the game has, but you can get the current stock of the shop for a good discount. But I can't quickly think of any other games. Why is this?

 

I liked the fact that in Decker I have to weigh my options: wait for an item to be in the shop and get it cheap, or just bite the bullet and order it for full price. So why are there no other games with this mechanic? Is it not worth the complexity in the UI? I find it unlikely that nobody has thought of adding it to their game.

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I thought sales in app shops was very common... It is a good way to push those users on the fence, thinking about buying, into actually doing it.

I can't think of any (reasonably big) title that haven't used it in some way or another.

 

Maybe not in such an organised manner though.

Sounds like Decker found a nice way to present it, that fits with the theme. 

I like it, as you mention, that way, it becomes more part of the gameplay, something many shops fail at.

 

Edit: Seems I totally misunderstood the question...

Edited by Olof Hedman

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I thought sales in app shops was very common... It is a good way to push those users on the fence, thinking about buying, into actually doing it.

I can't think of any (reasonably big) title that haven't used it in some way or another.

 

Maybe not in such an organised manner though.

Sounds like Decker found a nice way to present it, that fits with the theme. 

I like it, as you mention, that way, it becomes more part of the gameplay, something many shops fail at.

 

i think he is talking about in game shops(in RPGs for example) rather than the type of micro transactions that have become popular recently.

 

It is quite rare for there to ever be discounts in such games. (some feature a haggle mechanic or adjust prices based on your characters stats/skills though).

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First they have to have someone program/script the 'sales' - takes work and can be a source for more bad looking bugs.  One MMORPG many years ago they had a (relatively) complex scheme of fluxuating NPC prices depending on a 'fixed' supply of goods and would even 'run out',   but it soon became problematic when people started fabricating/crafting stuff systematically (and the those NPC shops even would have a fixed limit they would buy of each item).   That disrupted casual crafters who soon found no point in making anything.  

 

Think about how you would have these sales work.  How often, how many, what item, what discount?    Is it a big ticket item that costs a player weeks of grinding (now 50%off) - so why do those few lucky players who get the sale benefit?     Is it really going to give them an advantage or just some mnor 'boost'?   The company has to weigh the cost of programming the feature debugging it etc...   and does it really offer better gameplay?   Some games have a login lottery giving you some stuff (minor to somewhat good stuff) which is also a lead-in for buying MORE/BETTER with out-of-game money.

 

The problem Ive rather seen is it is more the case that you (pretty soon)  get/have more   in-game   money than there are useful/amusing  store things to buy.   In several games  Very Useful Things players made/produced (which can be better than any store bought goods)  when auctioned go for significantly more inflated prices (Raid gear or PvP gear or quick leveling reputation items).  --- inflated by Players with nothing better to spend excess money on.    Another problem was both quests/missions giving better gear (to just about everyone),  and  faster leveling (than the original design balance - as the world extended) which made gear obsolete in a very short time.

 

Really bad part is the out-of-game REAL money buying has turned many games into "pay to win" (even by companies who swore it would never happen).   When you simply can accelerate experience, get good gear, or even bypass huge chunks of 'levels',  it eliminates any sense of achievement (and skips an awful lot of adventure which was supposed to be what these games were about).

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I think one reason may be that it allows a moderately wealthy player to gain currency by "doing nothing", which is almost always undesirable. In a single-player game, it makes the game too easy (you're supposed to gain fortune by killing stuff, not by standing in the shop), and in a multiplayer game, it negatively impacts the economy by inflating inflation (inflating inflation... say that three times!).

 

Unless a lot of care is put into the pricing or unless there is always a huge gap between bid/ask, a player could (and some will!) buy everything that is on sale regardless of need, and re-sell it with a margin. They'll do that all day until they can afford all the best items.

Edited by samoth

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Ah, I had not thought about the MMO* scene at all. A player-involved (or player based) economy makes it a far more complex problem. I agree that it is not necessarily any good there.

 

But let me re-phrase the question: why are there so few single player games that have an in-game store that has items for sale?

 

In a single player it would make a lot of sense IMHO. It adds a meaningful choice on how to spend your money. It adds realism to the buy-stuff-at-the-store experience. And it can even be used by the game designers to steer players towards certain kinds of items. For instance the 'on sale' mechanic could favor items that help in certain quests the player is currently ignoring.

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Such mechanics require something to govern it. For example, in Dune 2, the Starport has varying costs for units, based on player (and enemies)' demand. The more a said unit gets ordered, the higher its price rises.

The problem in an rpg is that you couldn't really simulate the economy: as strange as it might sound, the player is generally the only one that really has anything to do with weapons whatsoever (except in Romancing Saga 3, where an army IS getting raised).

Thus, the economy would only obey to random fluctuations, which is far from ideal.

 

It goes to the next point: sales are there to give you incentive to buy an item at a said time (to stimulate economy, keep things moving, etc.) 

This function would not be of any help to the game microcosm: it is understood that all of your money will be spent towards shops anyway. 

 

Perhaps one thing that could be incorporated is the idea of shopkeeper guilds: it is understood you'll spend your money at shops, but they may be rival factions, and each of them really want your money. So for common items, the price might be led to dwindle down.

 

That being said, sales would probably add unnecessary complexity to a game, and possibly balancing issues (what if two shopkeepers fight to the death to give you these potions at 1GP each?)

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In Animal Crossing: New Leaf (at least) they have also this mechanic. You can basically order anything you had (or have seen in a street-pass house) via the catalogue. However sometimes they have special items of the day which are special priced (or even only available then).

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Borderlands has and always had this mechanic, though their "Offer of the day" is not really a cheaper item/weapon, but AFAIK only has a higher chance of being a rarer Item/weapon.

 

I GUESS the reason why a game dev might be relucant to experiment with putting ingame stuff "on sale" is that the ingame economy is hard enough to balance as is, and ingame money sinks actually play a very important role in keeping the economy in check.

 

Even in a singleplayer RPG where the ingame economy has no direct influence on the profit of the developer you need to balance the additional satisfaction a player can get from buying his stuff for a reduced price against the fact that the player might buy ALL stuff on sale now, actually doubling his ingame money this way, which makes everything less valuable, which in turn will make things less fun again.

 

It could be an idea, especially in a multi tier economy where you have either multiple currencies (and only the "lesser" currencies have items on sale), or where you can get common items (which could rarely be put on sale), and rare items which would never ever get a sale... but the developer had to carefully balance everything with this sale mechanic in mind again.

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I've seen it done for scripted reasons, like where a price fluctuation is necessary to promote certain behaviors at certain times.  (Say, you're going to need a particular kind of item, like a lantern or something, and the shopkeeper just happens to have them on sale right then.)  I can't think of any specific examples, though.  And there's always "store discount" sales, where for some reason you've managed to get a blanket N% off because you saved the town; that's not uncommon.

 

But non-scripted, non-blanket sales, I don't think I've seen, but it's interesting.  It's a potential way to put your thumb on the scales and promote certain kinds of behavior without requiring it. For example, if the player has been sticking to swords due to a real or perceived cost of switching, then given a set of otherwise balanced weapon purchase choices, their next purchase is likely to be a sword.  But you might not want that -- you might have determined that players that stick to one weapon type for the entire game tend to get bored.  Periodic random weapon sales, where for a period of time it happens that the next-tier spear, say, is only 80% of what it should cost, would incentivize a switch to spears by offsetting the real or perceived cost of switching weapon types.

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If you're a designer and you're trying to forecast what level of ability and equipment a player is going to be at a given point, so you know what sort of challenges to throw his way, then a "sale" on some item has the potential to throw off that forecast potentially resulting in the player not being as prepared for an area as he should be.

The only reason I can think of for shops to offer sales on items would be if you have a game that has trading or an economy as a central game play element.

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does it really offer better gameplay?

I think this is the key question here. Especially for single player games the in-game economy is anyway hard to balance. Player must be willing to buy things in shops and have enough money to buy the things he wants. But he can't have enough money to buy everything.

However even with this conditions sale may be also source of frustration if expensive item he just bought goes on sale the next day or if such item doesn't go on sale despite waiting a lot of time.

The point of sales in real economy is only to stimulate income for shop. In-game sale for in-game currency doesn't have such goals - it is only to make player spend money, but how it could improve the gameplay?

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does it really offer better gameplay?

I think this is the key question here. Especially for single player games the in-game economy is anyway hard to balance. Player must be willing to buy things in shops and have enough money to buy the things he wants. But he can't have enough money to buy everything.

However even with this conditions sale may be also source of frustration if expensive item he just bought goes on sale the next day or if such item doesn't go on sale despite waiting a lot of time.

The point of sales in real economy is only to stimulate income for shop. In-game sale for in-game currency doesn't have such goals - it is only to make player spend money, but how it could improve the gameplay?

I think any balance negatives could be mitigated by only having sales on consumable goods, and "common" or lower-level non-consumable goods like weapons and equipment. That way, no one's going to be miffed that they just spent 10,000 gold on the Sword of Burning and finding it 20% off the next day. Instead, the player gets choices like "Pheonix Down is only 400GP today, maybe I put my plans on hold to buy a few now, and go grind a bit more for Sword of Burning" -- its a small choice, but a meaningful one with balanced downsides and upsides; such choices are almost always interesting gameplay.

 

As for why seeing this is so rare, I have to think that its just because the notion of how video-game shops work was embedded into our subconscious back when adding even one more simple choice would cost valuable ROM space, or just effort. Or, particularly, most early games with shops were RPGs or borrowing RPG elements, which extend from Pen and Paper games -- no sales in Pen and Paper games, either :)

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Single player game ...

 

Part of game play can be the suprise factor (guy on street corner "Psst. Hey buddy, wanna buy a Vorpal Sword cheap??").

 

Player having to hang around waiting for sales is a poor gameplay element, so should be avoided.

 

Depending on the genre, there are no 'sales' unless it is to get the shop owner some more valuable advantage -- a bribe or attracting a hero that brings in more customers to his shop, prestige, etc...

 

"Sales" as part of gameplay advances/effort  (ie- reputation in town gets you the non-foreigner 'normal' prices...) which gives reason (other than direct loot) to do quests or whatever.

 

There are many other (interesting) ways that players can obtain that 'special' item in the game  (or ordinary if its a detailed 'work your way up' through mundane to bigtime theme player progression - halfway through ordinary stuff should be of minor cost).

 

 

 

 

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I think the idea of sale items in games is largely unrealistic because the economics of shopping in games is unrealistic. You don't have supermarkets, competition, advertising, or weekly shopping in games. Large real-life shops run these deals as loss-leaders, i.e. they sell you item A at a loss in the hope that while you're in the store you'll also buy items B through Z, which will make them an overall profit. Furthermore, this only works if they heavily advertise the sale in order to get customers through their doors, as opposed to their competitors' doors.

 

In a game such as Skyrim (to pick one I know well) you have a bunch of small single-purpose shops like the magic shop or the hunting shop, usually aligned roughly with the kind of player classes you can choose (wizard, archer). There's only one of each type of shop in each town. Both of those reasons mean there's no need to advertise or have sales, because if you want your Daedric arrows there's only one place to get them and only one price to pay.

 

Anyone know of a game with larger towns that accommodates local competition mechanics? I can imagine a sort of sub-game or even side-quests where your store loyalty plays a part. But if the only purpose of this is to introduce some small variation in prices, will it really add significantly to the player's experience? Will the player understand what's driving the price variations sufficiently to engage with it? When I go in a shop in Skyrim the prices do vary, but I never wonder why, I only wonder what I can afford.

 

Also, supply and demand mechanics probably don't really work within a single town. Usually this is linked to commodity availability and transportation links, which would probably be pretty much the same for all suppliers of a certain item within one area. It'd be easier to have certain towns pay differently for certain goods, which could introduce a trading mechanic to the gameplay like in Frontier for example. Maybe you know you can make bunch of cash if you take your iron ore all the way to that town in the north where they struggle to forge even a hat pin, but you'll have to fight your way through the hordes of ravenous jumby beetles in the desert to get there etc etc.

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