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Acharis

Production & price manipulation (economy sim)

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A game where you produce and sell goods.

 

Typically it goes like this, the player builds a factory and start producing at full capacity (always 100%) then adjusts the price to meet the supply/demans. So, if fewer clients buy the product the player lowers the price, if more want to buy it than factories can churn out the player increases the price. And it goes on turn after turn.

I was wondering, it's not how it works in real life (at least not for interesting high value items like cellphones, let's ignore patatoes and the like :D)... If the producer would change the price each month clients would get confused (and probably wait for the price decrease "forever"). It's more like a company announcing the price "Our brand new thingy for only $99! Preorders star now!" and then they can't increase the price (marketing wise) at least in a short period of time (actually more like they never can increase it...)

So, should I keep the old "player should adjust the price each month" model? Or go for discouraging it (the player being encouraged to not change the price, except lowering it) and instead making the player adjust production (which is harder for the player)?

And, if you think it's worth changing the model, how to do it exactly?

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It really depends on what the rest of the game is like. Will the player be competing against other producers? What affects demand beyond the price of your product?

If you are looking at competitive sectors like cellphones, no manufacturer can jack up the price without customers fleeing to another company unless that product has something no other competitor has and its worth something to the customers. If you are a monopoly, feel free to jack up the price of your product and demand will be around the same until your customers can no longer afford it (assuming your product is a luxury item, in which case demand would shrink pretty fast).

Look at what happened to the price of epi-pen and that HIV vaccine. Monopoly + essential item = sky high cost. 

So I would take into account a few things in your game:

  • number of competitors for this product
  • how essential is this product
  • budget consumers have to spend on this product
  • budget consumer has in general to spend on products in general; 

Oh I see you're working on a 4x game as well. Check out my realistic economy thread, that might help you a little. In particular I found this that might work for you: https://github.com/larsiusprime/bazaarBot

It's an agent based economy sim that models supply and demand of commodities by simulating bid/ask prices from suppliers and consumers.

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There are other competitors, overall there will be always some varianst of the desired product some competitors have althrough it might be not exactyl what the consumer desired or an outdated version of the product. So, it won't be a monopoly. The product is not essential, but quite useful.

 

Anyway, in real life the producer will make a price like $99, $199, $499, there won't a price like $105 just becasue it meets the production output and demand the best. Maybe some mechanics like "if the price is $500 it gets half the demand than if it was $499"? Althrough I'm not sure it would be fun and playable...

I mean, maybe there should be a mechanic that requires the player to commit to a certain price (before advertising starts)? Or if you change the price more than once per X time you get a penalty (in such case there should be "the last price change date" displayed)? What you think?

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Anyway, in real life the producer will make a price like $99, $199, $499, there won't a price like $105 just becasue it meets the production output and demand the best. Maybe some mechanics like "if the price is $500 it gets half the demand than if it was $499"? Althrough I'm not sure it would be fun and playable...

Have you thought about why players would want to change the price of his goods? Is the average selling price changing? Or is there just some fixed sweetspot (say $485) that will always yield the maximum profit and the player just needs to mess around until he finds it?

I think the key idea is to make this fun. What would be fun vs what is realistic? This is also a question I'm looking to answer. It sounds like you want to write a bunch of if/else to check for specific price points to simulate the market psychology and/or the supply/demand curve. I feel this is frustrating for the player because they may not even know these rules exists. 

I like an algorithmic supply/demand curve that changes in time based on the average selling price and the total supply/demand in the market. Of course, this means the average selling price must also change in time. You can do this w/ an RNG or model it based on fluctuations on other commodities.

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Anyway, in real life the producer will make a price like $99, $199, $499, there won't a price like $105 just becasue it meets the production output and demand the best. Maybe some mechanics like "if the price is $500 it gets half the demand than if it was $499"? Althrough I'm not sure it would be fun and playable...

Have you thought about why players would want to change the price of his goods?

To meet the factory output (90% of cases), and otehr reasons (10%).

The change to meet the factory output is especially tedious, because you just try to quess the correct number and adjjst it *each* turn. Other reasons like change of strategy, discount because a new model was introduced, reaction to competitors moves, etc are cool and fun. The whole problem is with the "set a price so 100% of the factory production is sold", which is tedious, unrealistinc, boring, frustrating and mincromanagement heavy without any real decision making.

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In real life, manufacturer and retail are different people, so even there is a profit margin due to scarcity, it's on retailers. (Just like latest AMD and Nvidia graphic cards were sold tens of dollars above RRP)

But if it's direct sale in game, a simple price/demand curve is enough imo, just that you might add an customer behaviour parameter ( this cellphone was $99 at debut but then became $149 due to high demand, let me better wait till it drops again vs "shut up and take my money, I need shiny cellphone thingy asap" ) which is different in regions. (Capitalism Plus had such mechanic where every city has different priorities for every product in form of X% price , Y% quality, Z% brand )

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