We have already heard a lot about the auction house. Here is a new spin on this.
Consider the three classes in the game: disciples of the land (DoL), of the hand (DoH), and of war/magic (DoW). The theory goes as follows. For the game to work, you need a combination of three things:
- DoL who produce raw materials and sell it to the DoH
- DoH who buy raw materials and craft; two things happen: they can 1) sell to other DoH who are typically at higher ranks and need those items to craft more complex objects, 2) to DoW.
- DoW who buy items (armor, weapons, etc) to go around and kill monsters.
This is similar to an ecosystem where everyone is dependent on everyone else. DOL can produce endlessly since it does not require (too much) gil to mine, gather, or fish (they are the herbivores). DoH make money since they can buy parts and sell the crafted items for a profit (they are the small predators). DoW can buy because they get rewarded with gils when they kill monsters (they are the large predators). So everyone is happy, the economy is growing, there is no unemployment, and everyone is leveling up and enjoying the game.
In the current state of the game though, there is a glitch which is that this virtual economy requires an efficient system to buy and sell. You will have guessed: the auction house!
Why isn't there an auction house? An auction house allows speculators to thrive. Speculators in fact help the game in significant ways. Say that region A is strong in mining and produces a lot of ore. It will sell cheap since there is plenty of it. Say region B consumes a lot of ore, because there are plenty of crafters for example. They mostly buy from local miners. However in B, there isn't much ore and so the quantities are limited and the prices are high. Here comes the speculator. He buys ore for cheap from A and sells it to B for a profit. What happens? Since there are now more buyers in A, the prices rise and miners in A get richer. This is good since it is efficient to mine in A. So people should be encouraged to do so. Crafters in B can now get plenty of ore for cheaper. The prices end up equilibrating. The losers are the miners in B who now have fierce competition and probably go out of business. But then, they probably should not mine in B if it is difficult and time consuming. You get the idea...
What is the downside of the auction house? It's well known. It's the problem of monopoly on some goods. This allows the seller to sell items at pretty much arbitrary prices.
In the mean time, there is no auction house. At least, the upcoming search function will be a huge step forward. In the current state, DoL produce a ton of raw materials, that they have a hard time to sell. DoH cannot easily craft because it is difficult to buy. Then it is difficult to sell so this is not motivating. Items accumulate. DoW are painfully making progress since it is arduous to get weapons and armor. Of course the hardcore gamers can get by by basically covering a bit of everything and being able to be nearly autonomous. Clearly though, this was not the intent of the developers.
In fact, I find this idea of a virtual world in which everyone depends on everyone else rather appealing and fascinating. We just need a better engine at the core to get this virtual economy going. It feels more like a recession now, or the middle ages when traveling to the next town would take a whole day and people were reduced to trading with their neighbors...
Let me know what you think.