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#1 Oct 20 2010 at 10:37 PM Rating: Excellent
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... The Retailer system.

I know you are tired, most of you have being browsing through an ocean of complaints, rants and opinions about it, but bear with me, just one more time, I will try my best to make the read worth your time.

I'm here in the interest of learning everyone's opinion, we all understand that "AH is the best economy driver for a MMORPG", it's true it's so good that it's the pillar tool of the Real Money Trade market, maybe some of you consider this a bold statement, however there is actually plenty of research done by professionals on the RMT business which enforces this idea:

Virtual currency and Money laundering

Real-World Production in Developing Countries for the Virtual Economies of Online Games

WoW Gold Price research

These handful of documents pointed me toward many interesting things and confirmed a suspicion I had about the RMT phenomena, it exist mainly as a consequence of 2 factors:

a) People is willing to buy virtual currency.
b) Playing with the virtual economy is rather easy.

The first point is rather obvious and ultimately impossible to deal with, however the second statement has more to it that meets the eye. Have you wondered? why it's easy to control a game's economy? the answer is actually quite simple: it's easy because we have excellent tools to interact with it, excellent tools like the AH.

Does this make an AH a bad addition to a MMORPG?... No, not at all, nonetheless it is indeed an important stepping stone for the RMT business in your favorite online game, although at the same time is a basic tool for the players, and eliminating it from the game would be equivalent to eliminate the pubs because the city is more dangerous at night... yes, people may be safer but it's still not the correct answer.

Now, what does your average MMORPG developer does in a situation like this?, well they usually snap in their game the most user-friendly reliable flavor of AH and create a dedicated groups of game administrators focused only to combat the RMT menace while trying to avoid harming the fun factor for their players as much as possible.

Or if you are SquareEnix, attempt to reinvent the wheel to fix the issue, which is the equivalent in the pub analogy to make mini pubs in every house, seeking at the same time to recreated the standard and make it RMT-proof, unfortunately at this very moment, it is not working very well.

The thing is... we (end-users) are not testers, and certainly we are not getting paid to do this, and most certainly we are not willing to pay for testing it, and when you combine these factors together the rage explodes!

Despite all this, I'm a critical customer, I don't want to invest my money for something mediocre or unfinished (like the current retailer system) but at the same time I want to see farther, to the original purpose behind it, a system that in the end will offer me something that no other MMORPG has: minimal influence of RMT in the game economy.

Today October 20th of 2010 at the current stage of the game it indeed does look like the RMT won't have a huge influence in the game economy because there will be no game economy to be influenced by them, regardless I trust this won't be like that forever, we already saw a couple of interesting changes that improved the system quite substantially and if SE keep coming with ideas like that it could even become something acceptable, or... who knows they may end making the wheel rounder.

So from this point of view what do you think?:

- The retailer system's original purpose can actually be archived and it'll become successful as economy driver and anti-RMT tool at the same time?

- or It will ultimately break taking the game with it?

Thank you for the time spent reading this post.

Ken
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#2 Oct 20 2010 at 10:50 PM Rating: Default
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At some point they will cave in and give us an AH, which will make all of their anti-RMT stuff for nothing. At the end of the day if they are looking at losing 25%(completely made up figure) of the population just to make RMTing hard they will cave in. I just hope they cave in sooner than later because I'd rather see people stick around because once they quit an MMO early most people will never look back.
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#3 Oct 20 2010 at 10:57 PM Rating: Decent
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Nice post Ken, and with links to back you up! I have a few thought on this subject, so i guess i'll share them.

I agree. I think the devs all sat around one day, and tried to come up with an idea that will not only slow down RMT, but also give more power to the players. The retainer system does provide this, amongst other things. Let's ask ourselves a couple of questions:

Will the Retainer system stop RMT?

My answer, no. It will keep them from controlling the economy though. People are upset that they have to look through so many bazaars, and is completely understandable, but i find that people rarely look through them all. If they find 3 people selling an item they want, they will usually buy the cheapest of the three. It could be an RMT selling that item, but chances are it isn't.

Is having a retainer really any different than having an AH?

Well, yes. A retainer is no AH. There are some nice benefits to this however. No longer do you need to stay logged in all the time with your bazaar mule. This is a huge plus for everyone. Less people online means less lag. Think about all the mules you saw in FF XI. They were on all the time just soaking up bandwidth.
Yes, it's a lot more work to find something you want. Until this community becomes more vocal in game, this will continue to be a problem. I do see people use the chat system from time to time though. "/sh Wind shards <do you have it?> 200 for 15k <can i have it?>" works. People need to be more vocal in game.

The changes made to the retainer system didn't help at all, what should i do?

This is an easy one. USE the new system. Don't drop your retainer in the battlecraft ward, and sell only moko grass. If SE wants us (the players) to control our economy in this fashion, then we (AS PLAYERS) should at least try to do it properly. Half the problem is that some people will not use the system properly. This hurts the people that are using it properly. How about we all do it right, and maybe it will work. :)




Edited, Oct 21st 2010 12:59am by Teneleven
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#4 Oct 20 2010 at 11:18 PM Rating: Good
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There's another alternative:

Just as the gil sellers learned and manipulated the AH so they will the retainers.

It will take longer to do, but even I, with a modest investment (and being one person) could take note of the retainers and create my own market. With a little more leg work and ingenuity on the part of the gil sellers they could do the same.

Regardless, if the gil sellers are able to make enough gil, overall prices will increase.

In the end the retainer system is an AH albeit a very primitive one; we just happen to do the work (the min/max pricing, inventory, etc.). Economically speaking, the lack of an AH just makes the peak and valleys of prices that much more volatile. If there are goods and services there still is an economy to be manipulated; if SE's intention was to combat RMT through this system it was a very bad decision.
#5 Oct 20 2010 at 11:21 PM Rating: Good
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I think it depends on exactly what a Company is when the system is ready.

Right now i view FFXIV's economy to be a lot more about small micro economies, ones that are built around people that you meet and the people on your linkshell. On Istory, most of the time i get my items through linkshell members and i also get market information from my fellow linkshell members. Materials and crystals that we gather we usually exchange to each other at an extremely decent price. As of right now, Gil means nothing. It just doesn't have any value at all, it doesn't open up new gameplay options, and it does not open new strategies.

In addition to the fluctuating micro economies between players and their friends, the next level up is the City economies of Ul'dah, Limsa Lominsa, and Gridania. Here, from bartering with strangers who you find shouting and bazaars, and micro economies can sometimes mix with each other. The city economies on my server fluctuate quite a bit, as i have found that Limsa Lominsa seems to have things for sale cheaper than Ul'dah most of the time, and there's a bit more emphasis on metal there. These city level economies are developing rather nicely on my server, and i'm interested in seeing where it will be in the coming months.

If the company system has an economic side to it, such as the ability to set up a private company ward, then we could see some more interesting things happen, but that is just a guess. I personally do not want a strait auction house to be the main economic wheel. I have been enjoying communicating with other people, haggling prices, and building business partners.

I think retainers need to show who they're attached to, so it would be easier to boycott RMT and easier to attach a retainer to a potential new friend.

RMT are not going to go get anywhere, simply because gil has no worth, for now anyways.
#6 Oct 20 2010 at 11:29 PM Rating: Decent
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Kierk wrote:
There's another alternative:

Just as the gil sellers learned and manipulated the AH so they will the retainers.

It will take longer to do, but even I, with a modest investment (and being one person) could take note of the retainers and create my own market. With a little more leg work and ingenuity on the part of the gil sellers they could do the same.

Regardless, if the gil sellers are able to make enough gil, overall prices will increase.

In the end the retainer system is an AH albeit a very primitive one; we just happen to do the work (the min/max pricing, inventory, etc.). Economically speaking, the lack of an AH just makes the peak and valleys of prices that much more volatile. If there are goods and services there still is an economy to be manipulated; if SE's intention was to combat RMT through this system it was a very bad decision.


For me, the jury is still out on weather or not this was a good system to combat RMT. Let's face the fact that, as long as people will buy gil, there will always be RMT. We all know that. None of us want to see a Scorpion Harness at 4 million gil again either.

You are also correct. We do all the work with this system. I'm not saying that it is a good system. I just don't think it's that bad of a system yet. I think, if people used it correctly, it might be ok at best.

I'm an adapter. I always try to make the best of any situation. I think if we all use this system as intended, then 1 of 2 things will happen.

1. It just doesn't work.

2. It works better than we thought.

If people want this system to change, we need to use it as intended, and prove either my first or second point.
Proving the first will get change, and if the second is proven, we won't need change.
the point is, SE won't change it at all until we have at least tried to use it in the manner intended. We all have to do this, not just some of us. So make it a point in game to call people out on it.
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#7 Oct 20 2010 at 11:33 PM Rating: Good
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zhinse wrote:
I think it depends on exactly what a Company is when the system is ready.

Right now i view FFXIV's economy to be a lot more about small micro economies, ones that are built around people that you meet and the people on your linkshell. On Istory, most of the time i get my items through linkshell members and i also get market information from my fellow linkshell members. Materials and crystals that we gather we usually exchange to each other at an extremely decent price. As of right now, Gil means nothing. It just doesn't have any value at all, it doesn't open up new gameplay options, and it does not open new strategies.

In addition to the fluctuating micro economies between players and their friends, the next level up is the City economies of Ul'dah, Limsa Lominsa, and Gridania. Here, from bartering with strangers who you find shouting and bazaars, and micro economies can sometimes mix with each other. The city economies on my server fluctuate quite a bit, as i have found that Limsa Lominsa seems to have things for sale cheaper than Ul'dah most of the time, and there's a bit more emphasis on metal there. These city level economies are developing rather nicely on my server, and i'm interested in seeing where it will be in the coming months.

If the company system has an economic side to it, such as the ability to set up a private company ward, then we could see some more interesting things happen, but that is just a guess. I personally do not want a strait auction house to be the main economic wheel. I have been enjoying communicating with other people, haggling prices, and building business partners.

I think retainers need to show who they're attached to, so it would be easier to boycott RMT and easier to attach a retainer to a potential new friend.

RMT are not going to go get anywhere, simply because gil has no worth, for now anyways.


Excellent post. This is what i mean by, "Using as intended.".
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#8 Oct 21 2010 at 6:03 AM Rating: Decent
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The advantage I see in a fully developed retainer system is the lack of a price history. Why's this? RMT would have to overcrowd every market ward selling a particular set of items in order to dramatically affect the sale of those items in such a way to affect the game economy they way they could with XI's AH. The only way a group of people would be able to affect the entire server's economy is to make prices of an item at the current time known to the entire server. Dealing with retainers, though, there is no up-to-date price history so the most likely price you'll run into is one set by the player-driven economy, and the price will be very hard to change.

But such an economy can also be crashed outside of the game. Websites where people can post what items they're trying to sell in the game, unless the data's coming directly from the retainer information stored with SE, depends entirely upon people being honest. A group of jerks wanting to spoil everyone's fun can go in and slowly post that they're selling object x for a reduced price, slow enough to make it seem real, fast enough so that it affects the server average price. Eventually people will start expecting that price to be the one to encounter in the markets, so everyone will have to drop their own prices in order to sell.

At least, potentially that's what may happen.

True this won't stop people from buying RMT, but it'll at least create a fairly stable economy (once the system's fully developed).
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#9 Oct 21 2010 at 6:50 AM Rating: Decent
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*shakes head*

I'm sorry, but the cure in this case is worse than the disease. Making shopping experiences miserable for all is not an acceptable way to minorly inconvenience the RMTs. There's all sorts of ways that Squeenix can monitor gil flow done through trades or a mail system.

Let's also be very clear about FFXI and the history of RMT there - yes, they caused inflation by driving up prices, but you know what? When the economy spiked like that, no one had to buy from them. Basic law of supply and demand. They can only control the economy if you let them. If an asking price is out of whack, then don't buy the item yet. If people aren't buying, then the price has to get lowered. And heck, that will happen with or without RMTs.

The bigger problem in FFXI was with botting or using other illegal programs to grab important NMs before anyone else. Now, that actually disrupted players' gameplay. It was a matter that was rarely dealt with promptly.

You know, my nine year-old daughter saw me shopping in the market ward and quipped, "Oooohhh... it's like a 3D Maple Story!"

...what else needs to be said.
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#10 Oct 21 2010 at 8:22 AM Rating: Decent
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Just as a side note LL all ready has an Auction House building with an NPC saying something like it is closed because all that entered lost their soul. I am probably off on his quote. I just found it funny and a nice place to craft since no one goes there.
#11 Oct 21 2010 at 8:24 AM Rating: Good
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kenage wrote:

I'm here in the interest of learning everyone's opinion, we all understand that "AH is the best economy driver for a MMORPG", it's true it's so good that it's the pillar tool of the Real Money Trade market, maybe some of you consider this a bold statement, however there is actually plenty of research done by professionals on the RMT business which enforces this idea:

Virtual currency and Money laundering

Real-World Production in Developing Countries for the Virtual Economies of Online Games

WoW Gold Price research


I don't see anything in any of these links about the AH other than gold farmers using it as a mechanism to transfer gold to buyers by buying overpriced items. It's all about RMT, but almost nothing about AH at all in about 100 pages of material.
#12 Oct 21 2010 at 8:36 AM Rating: Excellent
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I'm not convinced that the lack of an AH in any way makes it tougher on RMT. What are the arguments that it makes it tougher?

I'm going to play devil's advocate here and suggest that not having an AH makes it easier on RMT. One topic that people keep bringing up is price manipulation. With an AH, RMT manipulate the price by buying and reselling items or flooding the price history. With MW, RMT can still employ the buying and reselling strategy. Except with a MW, it takes them slightly longer to find the item to buy for resale but it also takes a normal player longer to find the item to buy. The RMT will have a better idea where to look for items because they will be in the MW more and will be buying the majority of the items of that type. As for flooding the price history, the main point of flooding the price history is to create the appearance that the price history price is the going price. With the MW, they don't even have to bother with this step as the first (only?) person with the item is effectively the going price because there are very few alternatives. RMT will also have more characters and retainers than normal players, so they can spam the MW with whatever price they want. It isn't as ironclad as the price history, but is someone sees the same price 2-3 times (especially when things are hard to find), they'll probably be pretty sure that is the going price.

Not having an AH also opens up new possibilities for RMT. Items are difficult to find because of the MW system and difficult to produce because of all the materials and skills needed to acquire them. Guess which group has the resources and organization to mass produce items. RMT dream of having a lock down on particular items because then they can charge whatever they want. Making everything difficult for normal players helps the RMT be more dominate in those areas because they have relatively more resources, accounts, and play time than normal players.
#13 Oct 21 2010 at 8:45 AM Rating: Good
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If SE is a wheel and tire company...that's what they just did.

The Wheels on car are wonderful things, but they do post a problem. If the driver forget to pull the parking break, or forget to put the gear in Park. The car will roll away on a slope. To combat this situation, SE had decided to reinvent the wheels. Instead of make the wheels round, they now make them in a shape of SQUARE. Now cars equipped wit the SQUARE wheels will no longer roll away from a gentle slope. However, users had complain about choppy rides, suspension damage and generally..the car is falling apart after using the SQUARE wheels....and the car still roll away if the slope is steep enough. SE's responds was to look at the design again and make minor adjustment to it and even throw in an extra set of SQUARE wheels to those customers who had bough a set.
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#14 Oct 21 2010 at 8:51 AM Rating: Good
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Let's just say that the logic is AH = RMT. Hypothectically.

Would you rather have:
1.) AH + RMT
2.) Market Wards
3.) Market wards with a search function + RMT

I would make this a poll, but this topic makes me sleepy.
#15 Oct 21 2010 at 9:06 AM Rating: Decent
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Definitely AH and RMT. SE can somewhat control this by introducing rare/ex items and make those items higher quality than crafted items, reducing demand for high priced auction items Problem is...introducing rare/ex items means SE needs to come up with content which to this point I have not really seen. A world full of rare/ex is a happy place IMO.
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#16 Oct 21 2010 at 9:23 AM Rating: Good
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Retainer system doesnt make RMT less effective.
RMT business arent all over FFXIV yet because it isnt profitable. YET.
But, eventually, it will be. And the RMT problem will continue as always. Any game has it, with AH or not.

And controlling the retainer market isnt that hard. Well, at least if the lag stop being an issue. All you need is a person willing to spend their week buying one type of item and selling it overpriced later on.
I did it several times in Ragnarok and there was no AH there. For over 2 months my guild controlled a crucial type of item there and the only group that had in quantity were us. And if anyone else wanted, they had do buy from us. For a large amount of money.
So, yeah, we controled a crucial part of the economy of the entire server.
And, yeah, it will happen here, too.

Tl;Dr: retainer is pretty stupid and not effective. Unless you only want to **** your users. Then, yes, its really good.
#17 Oct 21 2010 at 9:40 AM Rating: Decent
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Tough on RMT, even tougher on players... SE can't get their priorities straight. RMT will just end up grinding out crafts and selling the finished items to players... because if you think NMs are going to drop rare weapons/armor, think again. NMs will be dropping rare mats, because if they don't crafting will die just like it did in FFXI. Ian Malcolm said it best in Jurassic Park, "RMT will find a way."
#18 Oct 21 2010 at 9:45 AM Rating: Good
Whether I enjoy playing the game is the only point of view I need to look through. If they're going to lobotomize a game because omgz the RMTs are going to do bad things (and I effing hate RMT, BUT) then the answer is: NO. And I do something else. Bad game.
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#19 Oct 21 2010 at 10:14 AM Rating: Good
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RedHobbit wrote:
I'm not convinced that the lack of an AH in any way makes it tougher on RMT. What are the arguments that it makes it tougher?

I'm going to play devil's advocate here and suggest that not having an AH makes it easier on RMT. One topic that people keep bringing up is price manipulation. With an AH, RMT manipulate the price by buying and reselling items or flooding the price history. With MW, RMT can still employ the buying and reselling strategy. Except with a MW, it takes them slightly longer to find the item to buy for resale but it also takes a normal player longer to find the item to buy. The RMT will have a better idea where to look for items because they will be in the MW more and will be buying the majority of the items of that type. As for flooding the price history, the main point of flooding the price history is to create the appearance that the price history price is the going price. With the MW, they don't even have to bother with this step as the first (only?) person with the item is effectively the going price because there are very few alternatives. RMT will also have more characters and retainers than normal players, so they can spam the MW with whatever price they want. It isn't as ironclad as the price history, but is someone sees the same price 2-3 times (especially when things are hard to find), they'll probably be pretty sure that is the going price.

Not having an AH also opens up new possibilities for RMT. Items are difficult to find because of the MW system and difficult to produce because of all the materials and skills needed to acquire them. Guess which group has the resources and organization to mass produce items. RMT dream of having a lock down on particular items because then they can charge whatever they want. Making everything difficult for normal players helps the RMT be more dominate in those areas because they have relatively more resources, accounts, and play time than normal players.


Great Argument. I agree that a centralized auction does not equal RMT. The RMT will always be a step ahead of the players no matter what since they are more organized and frankly, smarter than the regular players. Even if we do not trade with the RMT in game, they can just move goods and gil to each other. The only counter argument that i can scrounge up is that Gil and Gear really do not matter in this stage of the game. That is not to say that it wont be this way a couple months down the line, but Gil is easy enough to come by and gear does not determine your success as it did in FFXI.

Simool wrote:
Definitely AH and RMT. SE can somewhat control this by introducing rare/ex items and make those items higher quality than crafted items, reducing demand for high priced auction items Problem is...introducing rare/ex items means SE needs to come up with content which to this point I have not really seen. A world full of rare/ex is a happy place IMO.


This is something that sort of conflicts with the way the game is designed. Notorious monsters will be added within a few months and the drops for these monsters will can be:

1.)Fully formed equipment
2.)Materials for crafting
3.) Both

The current philosophy of the game is to empower the crafters and most likely the drops will be materials. And if it is materials then they need to be tradable, which will work to the RMT's favors when in the case of open world NM's.

The game's economy is bigger than just the market wards and retainers though.
#20 Oct 21 2010 at 10:43 AM Rating: Excellent
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Killing an NM for some rare material to sell on the market to a crafter to make something rare for someone else to buy....

Is not quite as fun as getting a rare/ex drop that shows you accomplished something special.

I guess it comes down to what one considers fun and why you play the game.

So...I do feel the reliance on crafting for everything and fear of RMT has really sucked a lot of the fun out of this game.
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