Diablo® III

Use of Professionals in Designing Game Economy?

90 Undead Monk
9430
Posts: 1,198
Hi all,

I was just curious to see if anyone had any insight in how Blizzard designs its in game economies for games like Diablo 3 (and WoW). I have no industry experience, but I would think that as complex as they can be, with currency sinks (repairs, crafting), inflation, price crashes, etc, that they would want to consider consulting or hiring economists and other related financial/market experts. Any thoughts on this?
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How do you know that they haven't already hired such experts?
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They have their own quants team.
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Bernanke is a lvl 60 WD...voodoo economics
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No doubt they would. Given their experience with WoW.
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Posts: 4,597
Blizzard doesn't really create the in game economies. The users control it.
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first month I remember having 10-20 million = you were rich as hell

this suddenly went up to 250 mil

then 500

then 1 Billion

then XX Billion per Item started

Now were at the point where trillions of gold is being pumped into the game and not being able to leave, its just simply traded for / sold via rmah/ or 3rd party

There's only a few ways to permanently suck gold out the d3 economy, which is

Repairs

Crafting

Vendors

Account Bans

TL;DR ( No )
Edited by Rush#1195 on 2/20/2013 5:28 AM PST
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Hi all,

I was just curious to see if anyone had any insight in how Blizzard designs its in game economies for games like Diablo 3 (and WoW). I have no industry experience, but I would think that as complex as they can be, with currency sinks (repairs, crafting), inflation, price crashes, etc, that they would want to consider consulting or hiring economists and other related financial/market experts. Any thoughts on this?


Geewhiz, Activision Blizzard is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ. Current stock price is 14.63. They have to do quarterly reports, stock holder meetings, $16.28 billion market cap, 1.11 million shares outstanding. Just for a second, ascend beyond playing games and look outside.

It isn't easy to code a smash hit. Problem with D3 is that so many placed high expectations on D3. Balancing and tweaking take time. Unfortunately, some unsavory people because of the RMAH have focused their resources on hacking Blizzard servers, exploiting game code, running macros and game bots. Game design, technical support, and customer support are very expensive. Think what you get for your $60 investment. For those multi-boxing, 4x $60 of course, but that was your choice. RMAH offered people to get the best gear in the game within weeks of game release. People were beating inferno within days, weeks, months of release. RMAH was and is an experiment. No need to go offsite to trade.
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It's a long established AAA developer determining how they can profit in the short and long terms.

Do you really think they just throw this stuff together without any research supporting their decisions?
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if we have learned anything over these past crisis years, it's that we should probably NOT hire 'professional' economists for any economic jobs...
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"Designed" economies don't really work in video games or countries because they are always going to be driven by events that the designers didn't predict.

At any rate, I'm sure there were designers at Blizzard with the Economics 101 sense to know they were designing a free-market capitalist system that would be inherently prone to high inflation. They weren't putting a limit on the amount of new currency entering the system and free trade among players would ensure that a small percentage of shrewd active traders would end up with far more money than most people had. That's why best-in-slot items trade for a hundred times as much money as the average player has ever accumulated.

This effect was inevitable and I don't think Blizzard was all that surprised by it, but the volume of trading in the game did surprise them so the prices of high-end items shot up faster than anticipated. That's why they have tried to introduce more gold sinks into the economy and alternate ways to get items: to the control the rate of inflation. This is the main reason marquis gems and BoA crafted items exist now.
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They could use professional help to design the game. And if that game were properly designed, it would not need an economy. Because then all the players could find an in-game way to upgrade their gear without having to trade with others.
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I'm not sure they hired any professionals to give them insight on how economics works, though I do believe they've been monitoring activity on the AH, how much people buy, how much people spend, how much gold an average player has, how much they use on gear, what kinds of gear and items they typically buy, and how the AH as a whole has caused most players to be shoppers/bargain hunters more often than actual players.

I quote this piece of the Dev Q&A answers all the time, but it really makes the most sense....

Travis: Making the new crafted items account bound was done for one very distinct reason: to give players more incentives to play the game rather than the Auction House. Something we discuss frequently is how the Auction House has impacted the game and how we can refocus players away from farming the Auction House and onto farming monsters.


People want all the gold they can get, because gold can get you the best items in the game the fastest. Problem is...that's the biggest part of what's wrong with this game...or, at the very least, how many people are abusing that fact.

So while I doubt they've hired economics experts to tell them the best ways to stimulate the economy, I don't have any doubt that they're taking the right steps to make the game better. The AH should be a sidebar...it should be a way to supplement gold and gear.

When it's your primary source of both? You're not playing the game the way it was meant to be played. That simple.
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90 Undead Monk
9430
Posts: 1,198
02/20/2013 05:12 AMPosted by Darlynn
How do you know that they haven't already hired such experts?


I don't, I'm asking if they have.

Edit: Wow these replies are negative. Please read the whole post, pause, then reread it again before you start working on your replies. Also, stop reading between nonexistent lines. I'm not criticizing the economy, nor can it be reasonably implied from my post. I'm simply curious if they use or consult actual economists (or other related market professionals) for making design decisions related to the game economy.
Edited by Sungrey#1201 on 2/20/2013 9:44 AM PST
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