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A Case for no AHFollow

#1 Oct 22 2010 at 8:40 AM Rating: Decent
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These are my own thoughts, based upon nothing more than my opinions and observations. Forgive me if some or all of these ideas have been stated elsewhere - but I have no intention of copying someone's thoughts or starting a new thread for no reason, I simply haven't seen anything along these lines.

Let me begin by saying that I'm trying to jump into the mind of SE devs/designers as to why there's no Auction House in the game from an economics standpoint. Let me also give the disclaimer that I agree the current system needs a real lot of polish to be truly effective (or even, mildly effective...), but hear me out on this post which claims that a P2P economy can theoretically work.

I'm not an economics expert or game designer, but perhaps this is the line of thought that was adopted in the "retainer" system.

First, consider the limited inventory place available. Every player has 80 inventory slots, plus 80 inventory slots on their retainer, in addition to the 20 bazaar slots (10 player, 10 retainer). Of course, this is not taking into consideration item stacks (groups of 12, 99, etc). or crystals. That means that each player can contribute a maximum of 80+80+20 = 180 items to the overall economy (the aggregate supply curve, if you will). This means that the amount of items possible is somewhere in the order of 180N, where N is the amount of players on a server. Excess items simply get vendored to NPCs. This is by definition a finite supply.

Of course, this is very simplistic for the reasons listed above, as well as the fact that many of these items are not available for sale, whether explicitly (i.e. not in a bazaar) or implicitly (mats reserved for crafting, sets of gear equip, weapons, etc.)

On the demand side, items with greatest demand (and the highest price people are willing to pay) should then theoretically be high-level gear and the mats required to make that gear, as with the passing of time, lower-level gear/mats become commoditized as players skill-up, thus driving down their place. We've all seen that happening. Given that, for gear, each player only needs one of each item, there is a similarly finite demand curve as well.

Let me digress for a second and compare that system to an AH economy like that of WoW (in full disclosure, I did not play FFXI, so I can't relate to the painpoints of SE failing to meet past expectation). There are basically infinite supply/demand curves due to being able to dump things in the AH, on mules, guild banks, and the mailbox. Prices in this environment are far easier to manipulate, especially by spambots/RMT. Have you seen any RMT in FFXIV compared to other games? Any at all? Just saying...

Back to the topic, given that virtually every craft of any value requires materials from more than one (usually several) craft disciplines, and given the exponential time required to level a particular craft class, it seems obvious to me that SE's intention was that players ought to focus on specific roles (i.e. ranking up a specific class, not several) and form bonds amongst one another (friends, linkshells, etc.) in order to achieve unique (i.e., non-commodity) success. They've even overtly stated as much.

The most successful (highest level, most gil, most notoriety, etc.) players on my server (Rabanastre) are the high-level crafters with a wide network of like-minded friends. I suspect the same is true on all servers.

But, back to the question of an AH - why would SE purposefully not build an AH? One thing I've seen is that they were "too lazy" or it was "too hard" for some reason to implement, and I just find that very hard to believe. Another is that they're trying to be "different" just for the sake of it - this is closer to what I think is the truth. They're definitely striving to be different, but I think it's on purpose.

1. Again, with the P2P retainer system, they have created a finite supply/demand curve, and therefore a controlled economy. I truly believe that the game design hinges upon the expectations that SE have on this type of economy.
2. RMT is a plague upon all things MMO. Some people love it because it allows them to be lazy, pay real money, and cheat the system, but others recognize that it really ruins the game for people who invest their time, thought, and energy, only to be subverted for people looking for a quick out. And we can all agree that shout bots are incredibly annoying and only take away from the game experience.
3. This system encourages players to work together in unique ways, and form relationships. SquareEnix has stated this as a hope they've had for the game. It can work, and the players who have learned to work successfully together are the ones doing the best right now, by any measure.

That's my speel. I do want to close in saying that this type of system absolutely does not cater to the casual player - you need to dedicate a lot of time to be a good crafter, both in leveling the craft and forming/maintaining the interplayer relationships. On the other hand, casual players have no need for high-end gear, unless they're trying to look pretty - but they'll pay the price on diminishing returns and gear that breaks quickly (and costs a lot to repair).

What does SE need to address? Searching for items, and they've said they're working on it. There are probably ways they could further streamline market matchmakers, and they're probably brainstorming that too, if not developing it already. Again, I don't think we'll ever see an AH because they want to keep the economy finite.

I'll close in saying I've found the reviews of XIV from game magazines to be completely unfair and suspiciously negatively biased (Actiblizzion ad revenue, anyone?). There are subtleties like the ones I've talked about that you can't possibly even begin to think about in playing the game for only a week, let alone a few hours. I rate the current state of the game at about an 8/10, and I hope to break down my thoughts on that at some point as well.

Thanks for taking the time to read this potentially TL;DR post.


EDIT - fixing # of bazaar slots, thanks Chris

Edited, Oct 22nd 2010 11:53am by volta1
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#2 Oct 22 2010 at 9:32 AM Rating: Good
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I think your opinion ab out finite vs infinite economies is a fallacy. No economy is infinite, and therefore you're just arguing large vs big. I would also like to say that supply and demand curves being "controlled" is bad. It creates market inefficiencies that will either hurt buyers, sellers, but likely both.

I agree that SE didn't put in an AH because they wanted it that way, I'll critique your reasons why you felt this way.

Quote:
1. Again, with the P2P retainer system, they have created a finite supply/demand curve, and therefore a controlled economy. I truly believe that the game design hinges upon the expectations that SE have on this type of economy.


Again, there is never an infinite supply and demand curve, so I think this doesn't make sense. I believe you are referring to limiting the amount of items that can be for sale at one time, but FFXI did that too (7 per character), and still had all of its problems.

Quote:
2. RMT is a plague upon all things MMO. Some people love it because it allows them to be lazy, pay real money, and cheat the system, but others recognize that it really ruins the game for people who invest their time, thought, and energy, only to be subverted for people looking for a quick out. And we can all agree that shout bots are incredibly annoying and only take away from the game experience.


thats not a universal thing, RMT will be as big of a problem as the game allows. Games like wow where the bulk of gear/advancement is based on performance (questing, dungeons, raiding), RMT tend to only affect the consumable and crafting markets. In a game focused on crafting, RMT will be a huge player due to their ability to affect a larger portion of economy. The importance of raw materials and currency is much higher, multiplying the effect RMT has.

Quote:
3. This system encourages players to work together in unique ways, and form relationships. SquareEnix has stated this as a hope they've had for the game. It can work, and the players who have learned to work successfully together are the ones doing the best right now, by any measure.


referring strictly to retainer sense, this is simply untrue, The market wards and retainers do not promote any social aspects at all. Now if by saying that this system is so poor, it promotes people going outside of it and shouting in cities for items, yes that is promoting some social interaction, however its not a good one. I remember in the early days of FFXI that due to social differences, the japanese player base considered using the shout command very rude.

I could go into the argument that creating a search function basically goes against everything the retainer system is supposed to do, and turn it into a complicated AH, or argue that there is nothing inherent with an AH that causes market problems, its just the most efficient means of a market (both the good and bad happen almost immediately), but I've posted that in every other AH thread we've had.
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#3 Oct 22 2010 at 9:42 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
in addition to the 16 bazaar slots (8 player, 8 retainer).


Twenty. You and and your retainer each have *ten* bazaar slots.
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#4 Oct 22 2010 at 9:51 AM Rating: Decent
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Don't agree with you, Kuja, but thanks for the reply.

I'd still contend that the XIV economy is theoretically finite, while WoW's is not. There are simply so many item slots, and nowhere to dump them. In WoW you can email yourself over and over with no ramifications.

Typically, the "inefficiencies" you speak of in controlled economies are on quotas/surpluses - i.e. setting price levels. I made no mention of that, only of controlling the absolute size of the economy. What you're referring to in deadweight loss does not apply here.

Not sure I understand your point on RMT, so I must be misreading it. XIV has huge consumable/craftable market... where is the RMT? Or are you suggesting that XIV is more adamant in squelching it because of the effect it would have? Either way, you don't mention straight-up gil selling, which would definitely still be applicable in XIV. Regardless, SE's implementation makes RMT neigh impossible.

I agree that the retainer system in itself doesn't encourage working together. My point is that you need to work together to be successful, not that retainers enable that success. Retainers in the P2P are for offline/untargeted use, at least that I think that was the intent. I never meant to suggest that the way people are using and depending on retainers for items today is a good thing - in fact, the whole point of my post is that people need to work together more, and that people are getting frustrated because they're not successful at that model.

Again, agree to disagree, but thanks for your thoughts.




Edited, Oct 22nd 2010 11:52am by volta1
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#5 Oct 22 2010 at 10:00 AM Rating: Decent
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This doesn't the address the problem. how the **** are people suppose to find things in a timely manner of randomly clicking on one retainer after another? If everyone had a retainer like your example, that would mean thousands of retainer per ward. Please kill me now if I have to shift through that.

The more and more they tweak trhe retainer system the more and more it becomes an AH. Instead of just fixing the issue with an AH, they will drag the problem out and still end up with an AH system.
#6 Oct 22 2010 at 10:00 AM Rating: Decent
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That was a very long post. I read it all.

Here are my thoughts on the no AH subject.

I agree with you that SE wants players to come together and form a very large community. You have crafters traveling to areas where combat classes go to gain SP/XP. Clearly this would give people the opportunity to interact. ie. repair sell/buy custom craft. But it's not working. Part of is us players not playing the way SE intends and the fact that I have lv 5-10 crafting leves in the lv 20 camp area. Currently my crafting ability is way to low to craft anything worthwhile for the combat classes.

The second thing is the amount of time it takes to seek out a particular item. I want to buy a lv 20ish piece of heavy armor. I travel to the "armor ward" and I see ~30 retainers hawking their wares. the first 12 are selling mats for various crafts, the next 10 are selling a menagerie of assorted cotten gear. The last few have a mix and match of gear types. ~20 min later I leave the armor ward and head over to the "weapons ward" and I'm presented with over 100 retainers. I randomly examine one and it's selling the piece of gear i'm looking for, but is selling for 300k. I buy it and continue to shop, i head over to the "cooks ward" and the first retainer i examine is sellign the heavy arour i just bought.... but at 1/2 the cost...

I think the current system has halted the casual player to moderate player from advancing at a reasonable rate. I just don't mean pure SP/Exp advancement. But Gear progression and crafting progression in general. I'm currently a lv 23 lancer. Im wearing lv 14 armor (have level 27 gear for when i get to that level) Ive only received new gear from LS mates who have crafted things to my request. I'm a lv 16 cook, But I've yet to really cook anything to sell or give away (outside of orange juice) because many single meal types require 4-7 different ingredients. If i were to seek out mats in an efficient fashion I'd be able to get things out on the market to sell myself, and feel leveling cooking is worthwile. but in order to level my cooking I need to level Botanist, fisher and alchemy to create/gather mats needed to cook with. Because sadly it's more efficient to do it that way than to search the wards for a few items. At least by changing jobs i can narrow down the field and maybe randomly obtain the items I seek.

What SE has created is a classic case of square peg through the round hole. It just doesn't fit.

If SE implemented one of the following:

1) retainers are only able to sell finished items of what ward they are currently in.
2) selling items of the incorrect type for the ward they are currently in are taxed heavy!
3) allowed players to search for types of items before examining the retainer.
4) 50% of your bazaars items at time of retainer deployment must fit into the ward category.

I think would make the retainer system much more.... tolerable.
In it's current state I dread stepping into the place...

So while maybe having a traditional AH in place may invite RMT and manipulation of the economy, at least I could find what I was looking for....



Edited, Oct 22nd 2010 9:05am by SevenLittleChipmunks
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#7 Oct 22 2010 at 10:07 AM Rating: Decent
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volta1 wrote:
Don't agree with you, Kuja, but thanks for the reply.

I'd still contend that the XIV economy is theoretically finite, while WoW's is not. There are simply so many item slots, and nowhere to dump them. In WoW you can email yourself over and over with no ramifications.

Typically, the "inefficiencies" you speak of in controlled economies are on quotas/surpluses - i.e. setting price levels. I made no mention of that, only of controlling the absolute size of the economy. What you're referring to in deadweight loss does not apply here.

Not sure I understand your point on RMT, so I must be misreading it. XIV has huge consumable/craftable market... where is the RMT? Or are you suggesting that XIV is more adamant in squelching it because of the effect it would have? Either way, you don't mention straight-up gil selling, which would definitely still be applicable in XIV. Regardless, SE's implementation makes RMT neigh impossible.

I agree that the retainer system in itself doesn't encourage working together. My point is that you need to work together to be successful, not that retainers enable that success. Retainers in the P2P are for offline/untargeted use, at least that I think that was the intent. I never meant to suggest that the way people are using and depending on retainers for items today is a good thing - in fact, the whole point of my post is that people need to work together more, and that people are getting frustrated because they're not successful at that model.

Again, agree to disagree, but thanks for your thoughts.


Edited, Oct 22nd 2010 11:52am by volta1


I don't mind debating, and so far nobody resorted to childish name calling, making this possible the most mature thread on this board :).

I'll be honest, I'm not really sure what you mean regarding finite economies. I think I get it now, you're concerned about limiting inventory spaces (since wow allows you to have a much greater number than anyone would actually be able to fill under normal circumstances). Honestly I just don't think this has any real effect.

Regarding RMT, I actually see no economic problem with gil selling. its just redistribution of gil earned (often legitimately). I do see market problems with gil earned through cheating/botting. Otherwise its just the economy working closer to max capacity (which is bad for the average/casual player who isn't interested in playing the market all day). The reason we aren't seeing alot of RMT activity in my opinion has a few factors. The first is that the game is so young, there isnt much demand to buy, and much supply to really advertise to sell. The gears arent in full motion yet. Second, SE is doing the inflation for us by making gil so easy to make, which combines with 3: that there are so many crafters now, supply of items for the bulk of players is very high.


Your paragraph regarding people working together, I can actually get behind but I don't see it supporting the lack of an AH. I really don't see a more efficient means to buy from 'offline/otherwise unavailable to trade face to face' players something that will hurt overall social aspects of the game. I think most of your points refer to problems with supply/demand and not problems with an auction house system.
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#8 Oct 22 2010 at 10:09 AM Rating: Decent
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Arguments in here are pointless with any comment like "SE is too lazy or it was too hard" the Auction Houses are IN GAME already, they just are not activated yet. Same goes with chocobos, airships and advanced jobs which all have their proper guilds and weapons easily found in the game.

SE's own words listed many times in sites and on there on pages express that they are tinkering with the retainer system and when ready they will activate the AH when needed. First they will get the search function retainer option and then probably one or two more things, then AH. Even FFXI didn't have AH in its first month despite it being front and center in the game.

AH set economy guildines, everything is still to volatile to implement. You'll have market clamp downs and monopolies form if you do it right now based merely on highest rank crafters and gatherer patterns. Slow implementation, while painful to players, is probably the best way to do it.... Unless they make it universal and not regional AHs.
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#9 Oct 22 2010 at 10:12 AM Rating: Decent
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For me it's quite simple, no form of AH by the time the free subscription runs out = no monthly subscription money from me.
#10 Oct 22 2010 at 10:33 AM Rating: Default
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I agree with Wizzies.

I refuse to click on retainers...I haven't yet, and I won't...I'll wear level 1 gear till the free period is up...then I'll return when they make an AH, if they ever do. I'd have to go thru ff withdrawals again, but no AH is a deal breaker for me...sorry.

#11 Oct 22 2010 at 2:46 PM Rating: Good
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It's fair to mention that WOW's auction houses were pretty limited to start with. Each faction only had one, and you had to physically travel there to use it. Then auction houses were opened in other cities, but originally each one was a separate auction pool. They didn't link the auction houses for quite some time.
#12 Oct 22 2010 at 2:58 PM Rating: Good
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Montydataru wrote:
I agree with Wizzies.

I refuse to click on retainers...I haven't yet, and I won't...I'll wear level 1 gear till the free period is up...then I'll return when they make an AH, if they ever do. I'd have to go thru ff withdrawals again, but no AH is a deal breaker for me...sorry.



Don't think they'll be implementing one.
#13 Oct 22 2010 at 5:52 PM Rating: Decent
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KujaKoF wrote:

I don't mind debating, and so far nobody resorted to childish name calling, making this possible the most mature thread on this board :).

I'll be honest, I'm not really sure what you mean regarding finite economies. I think I get it now, you're concerned about limiting inventory spaces (since wow allows you to have a much greater number than anyone would actually be able to fill under normal circumstances). Honestly I just don't think this has any real effect.

Regarding RMT, I actually see no economic problem with gil selling. its just redistribution of gil earned (often legitimately). I do see market problems with gil earned through cheating/botting. Otherwise its just the economy working closer to max capacity (which is bad for the average/casual player who isn't interested in playing the market all day). The reason we aren't seeing alot of RMT activity in my opinion has a few factors. The first is that the game is so young, there isnt much demand to buy, and much supply to really advertise to sell. The gears arent in full motion yet. Second, SE is doing the inflation for us by making gil so easy to make, which combines with 3: that there are so many crafters now, supply of items for the bulk of players is very high.


Your paragraph regarding people working together, I can actually get behind but I don't see it supporting the lack of an AH. I really don't see a more efficient means to buy from 'offline/otherwise unavailable to trade face to face' players something that will hurt overall social aspects of the game. I think most of your points refer to problems with supply/demand and not problems with an auction house system.


Right back at ya - glad to see people are able to hold a conversation without devolving into the typical 'internets' nonsense.

I'm honestly not sure if limiting the size of the overall economy (you're right, inventory + storage space) has any real effect, either... again, I'm trying to step into the game designers' shoes in justifying the lack of an AH for a reason other than, "just for the sake of it".

Your point about 'redistributing gil earned legitimately' (i.e., not through botting) is certainly interesting, but I'm not sure I agree with it. I have a hard time buying into the pure capitalism, if you will, that should bleed into an MMO. I don't think 'you get what you pay for' is fair or conducive to a healthy game environment... I wouldn't want the most successful players in realm to be the ones independently wealthy and/or willing to invest real money into the game, above what's required for the monthly fee. Again, an interesting point, but one I have a hard time accepting.

Your last point is spot on IMO, but the only difference is that I'm attempting to equate the Supply/Demand argument and no AH as one in the same. It's means to an end. I'm not necessarily saying I agree with it overall... would I like an AH to facilitate finding items, especially if it ended up lowering the overall available prices? **** yeah! But again, I'm arguing that SE must believe that an AH would be detrimental to the game, that it would actually have the effect of raising price levels, and that it would make RMT easier (AH arbitrage, etc.)

Does the current system need a whole lot of polish? Absolutely. Is it working as intended right now? Most certainly not.

I just am frustrated with the "3 to 4 out of 10" reviews I see for this game, and the excessive QQ'ing on these forums, from people that either aren't willing to or capable of evaluating the game fairly - there was a whole lot of work put in, and a ton of improvement from the alpha phases. It's not the case that "no AH" means the game is "not release quality", so part of my frustration probably bled over into the thread.
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#14 Oct 22 2010 at 6:05 PM Rating: Decent
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volta1 wrote:
I just am frustrated with the "3 to 4 out of 10" reviews I see for this game, and the excessive QQ'ing on these forums, from people that either aren't willing to or capable of evaluating the game fairly - there was a whole lot of work put in, and a ton of improvement from the alpha phases. It's not the case that "no AH" means the game is "not release quality", so part of my frustration probably bled over into the thread.

To be honest, with the exception of one of the reviews, all of the others were pretty fair. The points they made about issues plaguing this game are still present. Will they get ironed out sooner or later? Maybe, but when you review a game you can't account for future changes. Maybe when they re-review it the marks will go up, but for now I think these ratings are fair.

On topic, the problem I see with market wards is that people are not using them. The same is true for bazaars. Most people are happier going without and saving themselves the time and effort. Comparing to a game with an AH, people are the same. I have made fair profits from bazaaring, but nothing close to what I have made on AH and this is considering I have 10 times as many slots to use for bazaars. I have bazaar'd items I was trying to sell for up to 40% discounts only to watch people pay 100% of the AH cost because they're lazy. /shrug
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#15 Oct 22 2010 at 6:09 PM Rating: Excellent
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Quote:

Your point about 'redistributing gil earned legitimately' (i.e., not through botting) is certainly interesting, but I'm not sure I agree with it. I have a hard time buying into the pure capitalism, if you will, that should bleed into an MMO. I don't think 'you get what you pay for' is fair or conducive to a healthy game environment... I wouldn't want the most successful players in realm to be the ones independently wealthy and/or willing to invest real money into the game, above what's required for the monthly fee. Again, an interesting point, but one I have a hard time accepting.


My point with the whole redistribution thing, is that basically, RMT dude A farms up 100k gold in an afternoon through legit means (mining, killing whatever etc). Then he sells it do gil buyer B, who then buys a haubergeon with it. Its not fair to the other players, but there aren't any negative effects on the economy because of that. Its kinda a simple way to look at it though.

The reason I do want an AH, is because its allows a faster and more accurate view of the economy. This does mean that changes, both good and bad, take effect immediately. Really the trade off I see, is that I would like to be buying and selling my items at an accurate market price for years, rather than worry about protecting a % of the supply of item X if/when RMT groups decide to try and buy up and gouge item X.


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