Game inflation and you

In economics, inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.

All games that allow trading, buying, and selling of any kind is a potential target of inflation, inflation pretty much means that prices of items or services in game becomes very high, because of the value of the currency reduces. This can cause new players to have a very tough time getting into the game, and make them unable to enjoy the game and then stops playing. Games like Runescape, Fly For Fun, and Maplestory are perfect examples of where the inflation is hard to ignore, making it extremely hard to properly enjoy the game to the fullest without help from external sources(Buying in-game currency for real money is often very normal in these games). However, there’s often a misconception that inflation is always bad, this is not true. Games such as EVE Online have extreme inflation, but on a controlled level, in a way that even if you do not have money for what you need, there’s always a use for every player, since in the game, if your ship dies, it is lost, causing currency to dissapear, it’s all about how the game is designed.

Things that causes inflation is the increase of currency available among all players, but they don’t disappear fast enough, currency dropped from monsters and gained from quests has to go somewhere, since people are greedy, they always want more, so prices slowly increase as long as people are willing to pay for it, and people will as long as they have money, and someone will always have money if they never disappear. Every quest finished, every monster killed, as long as it grants currency, it will add to the total pool of currency.

I’ll be talking about how you can potentially handle this, and different approaches to it, depending on how you want your game.

Generally, a bit of inflation is good in your game, inflation causes people to keep playing, inflation keeps a player feeling that they are rewarded for their dedication. However, inflation also causes it harder for those who do not have a huge amount of currency to keep up with those who does, causing a rather unfunny environment for these people, therefore you have to be able to get a good balance of this, where you satisfy as many players as possible, as long as you also are happy with the result.

Balancing your inflation can both be easy, as well as very challenging. The problem with Eclipse Origins, and all other public engines is that there’s no way to track statistics reliably, almost all games analyze information such as how long it takes for each players to level, and how much gold everyone has, and how much gold they have compared to game time, how much gold a player has compared to the total amount, how much gold there currently exist split among all characters, and many other things like that. There’s currently no such support with Eclipse Origins. Therefore, it’s hard and a huge challenge to keep track of this in Eclipse, especially if you have no brain for it. If you are in a custom engine that has support for it, use it, or if you are using an open source one, or your own, add such support, it’s huge, and there’s way to little information about these things publicly available on the internet, so you can then also contribute to everyone by sharing it. It’s hard to say when it’s too inflated, since it’s up to the individual.

balancing the curve is the easy part, increasing some numbers here, lower some there, making it rather smooth, however, the currency that one gains, should be rather proportional to the currency that one loses, not 1:1, but it should be enough to make it feel like the gold matters. But the question is, how does this gold disappear? There’s many solutions if you look around different games. Popular ones are durability on items, if balanced correctly, it will be one of the more fair systems, the better a player is and not die(assuming gear loses durability on death as well), the more rewarded he is by no losing more money to repairs, while also those who do not gain that much money, such as supporting classes that do not get damaged that much also do not need to waste a lot of money on repairs. The repairing system is usually pretty useless in many games though, due to the low cost in many games. You should have the cost be proportional to the level of gear, which indirectly will be proportional to amount of time spent and from there, currency available to the player.

Other systems include food, or other healing items such as potions, bought from NPC shops. This has it ups and downs, it supports and allows easier solo play, but it also discourages supports, making them essentially useless if the food can replace them for the most part(See: Fly For Fun, the Support class was only really used for their buffs, and only healed because of the one damaging were to lazy to keep track of his own health). World of Warcraft used to require the player to have to purchase the skills and spells and upgrades to them up until 2 or 3 expansions ago, making that a huge gold sink in the game, to a point where people had to leave out several skills or spells that were not as needed for their role because they felt it was a waste of money, however this was replaced for a reason, it caused inflation because once you’re level cap you didn’t have to spend money on it anymore, and that’s where the inflation started at that time, where new players had no money once they hit 60/70/80(depending on expansion), and the older ones already had expensive prices on essential things such as enchantments for their items, and gems for the sockets of them, potions, bags, etc, making it rather hard for a new player to get into the system.

Whatever thing you may come up with that will remove money from the pool, it is essential that you keep track of it, if you just let it go by itself and hope it will be fine, your game will most likely not turn out how you want it to in the end.

One other problem with inflation is when you have no money sinks and nothing better for players to buy which causes the problem with the top players having a few million gold if you’re not careful. You have to keep track of the money that all the players have but it helps to know how they are using that money or not if the case may be and how to fix it, adding new gear or limited time offers of gear that, though it may not be better, is more rare.

Now, if you get the game to have too many money sinks, there becomes the problem of deflation which causes the gold to become worth more than it is intended and is very hard to get, so a basic sword selling for 100 gold can hit the equivalent of 10,000 gold which is just outrageous. To solve this, you can add daily events, increased NPC gold drop, lower prices on money sinks, etc. Basically, you will want to find a nice middle ground between inflation and deflation. Both of them can ruin a game or make it amazing.

P.S. I know 'm bad at explaining things, so sorry in advance!

Thanks Daro, I love when people add to my topics since they’re actually pretty unfilling to begin with, so I thank you, and I’d love if more people add to this.

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