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Acharis

Limiting the number of products (tycoon)

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Let's say it's a game where you produce and sell a product (tycoon). Usually in such games you end up producing like 50 variants/subtypes of a product in late game and it become tedious then (micromanagement hell, need for more advanced reporting tools, etc,etc). So, I was thinking that it would be great to introduce some sort of soft limit or encouragement to the player to stick to a lower number of products, like 5-8 for example.

Ideas how such soft limit could work?

 

Quick solutions:

- sales cannibalize each other

- unfocused marketing (spread on too many products) yelds a penalty

- you own only one factory (I'm not sure if it's great...) and you get a manufacturing penalty for too many different things produced there

- significant fixed cost *per product* for selling those (not sure how it could work, like a shop which sells too many things gets a penalty maybe?)

 

 

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I suppose the details will depend on the game.

If you've got a game where players can see thoughts of individuals in the store you might have:

* "They didn't have what I was looking for" --- too few varieties

* "Too many choices!" -- too many varieites.

If you're building math formulas for it, you'll want to build different parameters for them. With many customers you want multiple options, with few customers better options is probably better.

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I'd add it to overhead.  Every month there's some overhead for (say) marketing, multiplied by the number of unique products.  So if you have five products that's $500 a month, but if you have 30 that's $3000 a month.

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Some products naturally have few variants, making exaggerated negative feedback unnecessary.

For example, in a brewery simulation the product range consists of a handful of beer types, each sold in 2 or 3 SKUs (crate of small bottles, crate of large bottles etc.). There is no evolution until the player decides to change a recipe or replace a product to track public taste; no brand makes many beer types because they would just look silly and unfocused.

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The best limitation is competition. Make the market-share a key in the demand for the product. An example from real life is e.g. Windows Phone or Black Berry, they have a low share and nobody wants these, because nobody has these. Similar e.g. if you just look at the Android market. There might be phones as good or better than Samsung's S7 ot S8 (for half the price), but it's the most wanted one. And if you ask marketing people, they'll tell you that "mind share" of users is what they all aim for. On the lower end, you need to invest more than the revenue, to get mind share. On the higher end, it's self propelling.

Hence, make the player realize, one big product gonna have more demand, will lead to higher prices, bigger margins, longer lasting market success. Allow them in some way to merge products, maybe at a high cost (e.g 100%+100%==150%), but eventually worth it. This would usually also lead to fusion or buying of competing companies.

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As Frob wrote, it depends entirely on what it is that your game actually does and what the mechanics of the game already are. If this is a game that is trying to simulate something that happens in reality (such as being a producer of consumable goods, for example), ask yourself what things in real life could impose the sort of limits of which you write, then try to simulate that mechanism accurately. There is little more frustrating in a game that in most respects simulates reality within its domain fairly accurately than limitations that are obviously arbitrary and bear no real relationship to the thing being simulated.

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Let's say it's a game about a company that makes one type of product which is non consumable and overall a customer needs just one in a certain time frame (mostly until it gets too obsolete and needs replacement OR the customer get richer and wants a better variant), like: cellphones, TVs, cars, laptops, microwaves, etc.

Note: in real life companies that operate in those industries got bankrupt (or had serious trouble) when they tried to release too many products (like Commodore with their infamous dozens variants of similar Amigas or Apple when they got rid of Jobs and had too many electronics offered at once leading to confusion).

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In which case, you need to look at accurately simulating the actual cost of producing many different subtypes of things: each production line for each type of product will, I presume, have a fixed recurring overhead cost (as well as fixed capital cost) irrespective of how many units that it produces, yet the market for the whole class of goods is limited, so the profitability of any given production line is dependant on that particular subtype of product having sufficient market share: if the player decides to produce too many subtypes, they will individually get so little market share as to become unprofitable and the player will indeed become insolvent with whatever consequences that your game has for that state. Having multiple subtypes would then have the effect that a player would be competing against her/himself for market share.

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