Stuff’n’Stuff 08: Wonders of Digital Economy

Time is a tricky thing.  Seems only yesterday I was posting an entry on IKEA effect and yet it turns out 2 weeks have passed. I need more discipline=). So I guess I’ll just discuss stuff that happens on work. It gives almost daily stuff to discuss and it has a potential to be interesting. So…

…one more disclaimer. I’m a game designer. As design games for money. But I’m not a math guy. I’m not an economy guy. At least compared to real math and economy dudes (bad for me, yeah-yeah, I know). Most times I work with words and concepts, not numbers. But sometimes a need to calculate stuff arises. Like this time.

So, there is this game I’m working on. It was released year ago and I was recently transferred to this project. It has some sort of economy and balance, calculated long before me. My current task is to implement a quest system. Which is fun. But I am to calculate rewards for said quests as well. So I had to dive into numbers. Most of them are more or less logical, but not all.

The game is F2p. It has 2 currencies. First currency can be easily earned in the game (let’s call it “chips”). The other one can be bought for real money (let’s call it “gold”). And there is the “exchange” where players can buy 1 gold for 400 chips.

And of course there is the shop. Most items can be purchased both for chips and gold. The 1-to-400 coefficient is in place – I can easily buy one “item” for 800 chips or 2 gold, for example. And it absolutely makes no difference whether the gold was purchased for real money or chips.

But there is also the potion which restores mana. Players can buy small potion for chips only and big potion for gold only. Small mana potion costs 100 chips and restores 50 mana. Big mana potion restores 100 mana and costs 2 coins. Of course one can buy 2 small mana potions for 200 chips.

In other words 200 chips = 100 mana = 2 gold = 800 chips  which makes no sense.

WTF!?

It bothers me a lot, and not just because of this I cannot figure out the value of mana (which can be used as a reward for quest completion, or can be necessary to pass other quests, so it’s kinda important to know) but because I fail to understand the logic behind it. And because there are other instances of this phenomenon but with totally different coefficients, which makes my task even harder.

I’ve talked to people who were working on the project before me and they claim that it’s OK, but fail to explain why.

IMO we – the developer – are interested in players buying potions for gold, not chips. Moreover we are interested in players being happy as they buy stuff for gold. So it makes sense to make it appealing but at the moment it is opposite to that.

Once again, I’m not a math or economy guy, I recognize that I may be mistaken, so if there is something I do not see, please tell me. The comments sections is all yours=)

Advertisements