I posted a lengthy thread on how not having an AH could theoretically work, but it wasn't well recieved. I was trying to play devil's advocate a bit.
So here's an alternative - and I've seen bits/pieces of this elsewhere so sorry if I'm stealing ideas. This is an idea on how to have an economy with both Retainers/Bazaars and Auction Houses. I'll try to be briefer this time:
1. Limit AH to commodity items: That is, materials, arrows, foodstuffs, etc. Bringing it further, one could make AH limited to only NQ items.
2. Expand retainer inventory slots, and remove the tax. If commodities are in the AH, why should dedicated crafters lose out on 5-10% of what their customers are willing to pay? Why does sending gil back to the ether help the economy? Give the crafters the gil they deserve.
3. Implement a "retainer/bazaar reputation index". These words are mine. Having bazaars instead of AHs is supposed to "encourage community aspects" (or at least this is the only logical explanation anyone can possibly think of to justify them). Fine, let's assume that's true. Then, what's the incentive to go to the same retainer or bazaar multiple times? Currently, none. If SE wants to encourage relationship building, why not track how often you do business with a given player's bazaar or retainer? The more business you do, the higher this reputation/relationship index gets. The higher the index value, maybe the better discounts you can receive from the bazaar (a "reverse tax", if you will - crafter puts item in bazaar for price X, buyer with index > Y pays some percentage of X, but buyer crafter receives full value of X). This encourages you to revisit the same stores over time.
4. Implement an offline "Repair Zone". Unequip your stuff, dump it in the repair zone, log off, come back, and have it fixed. This seems like a no-brainer. (This could even be part of the AH!)
There are ways to streamline the economy while still encouraging community building. I'm sure SE has their own approaches in improving this, but what do you all think? Please don't bother posting "Make an auction house for everything" - we're all aware of that idea, and it's been duly noted that it would be an improvement...be creative.
Edited, Nov 10th 2010 1:19pm by volta1