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EVE's Economy - "Not Player Driven"

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Author
Cinara Miriam
Sebiestor Tribe
Minmatar Republic
#1 - 2013-06-02 04:20:05 UTC
So I had a discussion with a gentleman about player-driven economies in video games, and he had the following to say about EVE's economy, and how it was a bad example of a player-driven economy.
Quote:

Of course, EVE is one of the readiest examples of a game that wants to have a player-driven economy, but doesn't. EVE has always had incessant economic crises resulting from their coercive economic mechanics, for example the fact that shuttles came at a fixed price from NPCs, which created an absolute and arbitrary maximum price on the minerals that a shuttle could be reprocessed into. CCP even hired a supposed economist (hah!) to correct the game's problems and improve the enjoyability of its economic systems, but he was unable to do anything meaningful as a result of CCP's infatuation with introducing coercive economic influences.

If any game is to have a truly player-driven economy, the currencies must be freely selected by the players, and there must be absolutely zero external, arbitrary source or sink of resources in the game. You will never come close to balancing currency sources and sinks, if you make the foolish mistake of introducing them. Let each transaction be a barter of resources, and don't even consider letting NPCs participate in the economy
.

And to follow up after I asked him to explain exactly why players didn't drive the EVE economy:

Quote:
It seems like the EVE economy is player-driven, since players get to set prices for their sales and purchases. The reality, however, is that there are coercive influences that, most optimistically, provide boundary conditions on the economy, but, realistically, poison and drive it. Here are a few of the circumstances that make EVE's economy not player-driven:


  • Natural resources are arbitrarily limited. This comports with the real world, sure, but we're talking about a game and discussing player-driven economies. You don't want natural resources to be unlimited and unthrottled, but when considering the balance between availability and effort to acquire, EVE is so dramatically on the side of restricting availability as to remove effort to acquire entirely from the picture. There is so little effort required to acquire resources, once territory has been captured, that several of the notable major alliances don't harvest them at all. I am all too intimately acquainted with the real-money negotiations certain major alliances routinely engage in with ISK sellers for harvesting privileges.
  • CCP has established territorial ownership mechanics which disproportionately reward those who already have territory over those who would acquire it. Defense is far too heavily weighted over assault, which, when coupled with the catastrophically small map (another arbitrary limitation), results in a total absence of frontier and grossly limited opportunity to displace, giving existing territory-holders coercive pricing influence.
  • CCP continues to create market-breaking systems within the game. Every time they make a half-hearted swipe at revamping FacWar, for instance, they create more mechanisms by which their fiat currency enters the game, generating market exploits and inflating the economy. Then they introduce more ISK sinks to try to balance their colossal screw-ups, resulting in both more market exploits and greater market disruption.


EVE's economy is only nominally player-driven. In reality, it is a detestable amalgam of the CCP-protected influences of key alliances and the forceful disruptions of CCP attempts to band-aid their mistakes.



Does anyone here at MD have anything to add to this discussion? He has made some fair points I think, there are some strong external factors that influence EVE's economy, but he hasn't convinced me that everyday players are the main driving factors of the economy, and not some mega CCP-BOB conglomerate.
Varius Xeral
Doomheim
#2 - 2013-06-02 04:29:00 UTC
I can't identify a coherent argument to respond to, despite the existence of sporadic points that may be valid.

Official Representative of The Nullsec Zealot Cabal

mechtech
Ice Liberation Army
#3 - 2013-06-02 04:30:47 UTC  |  Edited by: mechtech
All I have to add it that Eve's economy is order of magnitudes better than other MMOs.

Is it a 100% perfectly player driven economy? No. CCP needs controls in order to properly manage the game, and the economy is just a slice of the Eve pie.

This guy just seems to be a negative whiner: " In reality, it is a detestable amalgam of the CCP-protected influences of key alliances and the forceful disruptions of CCP attempts to band-aid their mistakes."

When I look at the Eve economy, I see the best MMO market mechanics out of thousands of MMOs. If he's that against game elements, he should just stick to playing with the real equity markets. Anyone who looks at the complex Eve economy and calls a "detestable amalgam of CCP-protected influences" probably isn't cut out for playing online video games.

It sounds like he should find a hobby he enjoys instead. Eve is a game controlled by a game company, and you have to accept that if you want to play.
I LIKE IT
HIGH RISK INVESTMENT
#4 - 2013-06-02 04:36:36 UTC
Cinara Miriam wrote:
Does anyone here at MD have anything to add to this discussion?

WHEN CCP GIVES YOU LEMONS MAKE LEMONADE
Cinara Miriam
Sebiestor Tribe
Minmatar Republic
#5 - 2013-06-02 04:37:20 UTC
Varius Xeral wrote:
I can't identify a coherent argument to respond to, despite the existence of sporadic points that may be valid.


I think his argument is more or less the economy isn't truly player driven because of all the external, some of which are controlling, factors that effect it. I get what your saying though, I just want to share.
Cinara Miriam
Sebiestor Tribe
Minmatar Republic
#6 - 2013-06-02 04:38:29 UTC
I LIKE IT wrote:
Cinara Miriam wrote:
Does anyone here at MD have anything to add to this discussion?

WHEN CCP GIVES YOU LEMONS MAKE LEMONADE


I'll keep that in mind as a trader's tip next time CCP gives me lemons as redeemable items.
Kara Books
Deal with IT.
#7 - 2013-06-02 04:38:44 UTC
I would say the economy is player driven in most, apart from NPC goods like Command centers and books.

Otherwise I think CCP is just looking over the market place to make sure there's enough of almost anything available fairly to every one, AKA healthy regulation that the population seems to benefit from.

-to present a quiq argument:
Once upon a time, the population said NO, to Pay-to-win AUR mechanics, the players made the choice, - in my opinion, this is the cleanest economy iv ever seen anywhere, period.

As for SOV mechanics, yes they could use a little bit of a touch up, but there's just to many players assets and local healthy markets already entrenched to even think of doing something fast, if change comes its probably best to make it gradual.

Many things can be said, both negative and positive about the game, but overall I think the game is enjoyable, a good storyline, unmatched quality of choice in just about anything you want to do, the market system is already good,Overall the game is of much better quality then just about everything else around because indeed, it is player driven at its core.

Of course this is a very gray discussion, never the less those are my 5 iskies.
Varius Xeral
Doomheim
#8 - 2013-06-02 04:47:55 UTC  |  Edited by: Varius Xeral
I mean, if the fundamental argument is "people shouldnt circlejerk so much about the 'playerdriveness' of the Eve economy", then I generally agree. I think that applies to almost everything with Eve, where it's hyped up to be more than it really is. That said, just as with everything else in Eve, even if it's overhyped, it's still pretty ******* amazing regardless.

Official Representative of The Nullsec Zealot Cabal

Ireland VonVicious
Vicious Trading Company
#9 - 2013-06-02 05:50:58 UTC  |  Edited by: Ireland VonVicious
Player driven economy does not equal free market.

Economies can be capitalist, communist, even socialist or fascist.
I think eve leans toward a fascist economy.


CCP is the Eve central bank.
Central banks **** up economies all the time. Why would it be different in Eve?


Max resources are a part of real life too.
The amount that is "Max" can change based on many factors like new technology.


Did eve do a good job on the economy? Nope.
Did they do a bad job? Nope.
Just a decent attempt at middle of the road results.


Hiring an economist is just funny.
I find most have no passion to learn economics but only regurgitate what they were taught.
(( Maybe even brain washed into ))


Even with all the mess ups, bumps in the road or solar storms they went through it's still the best example of a player driven economy.
I would be willing to bet money that the guy who whined that hard to you is a libertarian. They confuse economy with free market all day everyday.
Trevor Dalech
Nobody in Local
Of Sound Mind
#10 - 2013-06-02 05:57:29 UTC
Perhaps he could give a example of a game where the economy IS player driven then? As people have said before, EVE's economy is an order of magnitude better than any other MMO out there.

Also, I suspect that by his arguments the real world economy can not be considered to be human driven...
Joan Greywind
The Lazy Crabs
#11 - 2013-06-02 06:11:56 UTC
I will try to offer a counter to each point:

The first point where he says natural resources are arbitrarily limited shouldn't and doesn't affect if the economy is player driven. Being limited is good, by being limited you create an atmosphere where players will fight for the given resources. The argument that there is no effort involved also doesn't hold credence since you can easily refute it with real world examples, such as oil fields. After you establish the oil field and the rights to extract the oil its takes very little effort (relatively) from the oil company to actually extract the oil. Yes there is laborers and managers on the site but you can consider such things as fuel costs and the time needed to manage the pos. You can see that actually building the pos, hauling and selling it is all done through players, so that only adds to the player driven economy. The last sentence makes zero sense to me, how does not harvesting the resources and rmt play into the argument? Even if there is rmt the things you sell are sold to players based on demand and supply, and you will want the best prices.

This argument is probably the weakest of them all, since the map being limited is not a real argument. It is like saying the earth is limited so we can't have people driven economies in the real world. Is he saying the map should be infinitely large? Saying defense is so much easier than offence is arguable at best ( in any balanced game that should be the case, the attacker always has the inherent advantage of picking his fights, hence the argument the attacker has to be lucky once while the defender has to be lucky always). The data also supports the argument as we have seen numerous powerful alliances get rooted from their space. And even if that was true I still don't see how that makes EVE a "not" player driven economy? Even if some major alliances control some prices that doesn't mean anything since in the real world we also have organizations and powers controlling commodity prices (HAI OPEC). I think your friend is confusing perfect capitalist market (perfect competition model) and player driven economies.

Now as a developer of a game CCP will always produce new features, and sometimes (not intentionally) they will affect the economy, but these mistakes are quickly fixed. We have to remember that although creating sinks will affect the economy, it's up to the players if they want to use them or no. Lets take taxes for instance, although the isk goes to npc, taxes are only paid when you do a transaction with other players and is decided upon that. Even BPO's are bought based on the profitability of that item being sold to other players. EVE is not like the real world, but in both we have isk (cash) generating activities. In the real world that gets countered by inflation and the government limiting the supply of cash. Sinks include increasing rrr buying government bonds and increasing the rate of borrowing from the central bank. Sinks are necessary and the supply of cash needs to be controlled or the inflation rate will spiral out of control. So I still don't see how the existence is something bad. And fyi (according to my knowledge) it has been a while since CCP introduced notable ISK sink. They fix the screw ups by fixing them, FW got fixed, no sinks were added.

I'm not saying eve is a 100% driven economy, but it's damn close (hopefully npc orders on everything will cease to exist and we live happily ever after) and CCP is taking major steps to making this happen. Hiring an economist is a big leap in the gaming industry and I don't appreciate your friend making fun of it. Unless he's an economist (if he is he is truly a bad one) don't undermine things you don't understand. And having a business degree doesn't make you an economist.

Sorry for the long post but it was required
Sevastian Liao
DreamWeaver Inc.
#12 - 2013-06-02 06:47:06 UTC  |  Edited by: Sevastian Liao
From what I understand, the arguments by the person in question essentially boil down to "If there's any external influence / rules / circumstances that affect the economy in any way, it becomes non - player driven". Not true. Even real life economies must necessarily exist within a certain legal/social/physical framework.

Does the fact that the Middle East have more oil than other regions in the world mean that the oil market is not driven by market players? No, it remains "people" driven - OPEC, OTEC, and all forms of player/people created cartels are still made up by market players. Whether you like the players and their actions is completely irrelevant. Such Middle Eastern nations are similarly more able to defend said resource as compared your capabilities of taking it by force. It is still "people" driven - Only the "people" in question most likely isn't yourself, or the majority of others. Again, whether you like it and think that the mechanics that "defend" such cartels is fair or not is completely irrelevant. It was created and enforced by the market players in question, it's player driven.

You only have so much resources available on our little planet - Surely, that's an "artificial restriction" that means that our economy is not people driven, but the result of God/Cosmic forces/The Spaghetti Monster/Take your pick asserting undue influence on the economy. If I want to manufacture something, I'm going to need certain basic components that I have little to no control over. I'm not going to be making MP3 players from chicken eggs no matter how free and people - driven my market is. There are always going to be certain constraints - both "player" made (Huge nullsec coalitions) and "natural" laws (How many minerals can something be reprocessed into) - that define the nature of economic relationships between market players. It is how much freedom is afforded to the participating entities within said framework, and how non - interfering the higher power is with respect to such economic relationships *within* the framework that defines how "player driven" the economy is.

Concerning price fixing on the part of certain items like skillbooks and features such as NPC missions, yes, those markets are not player - driven, but such are the constraints when you're running a game as opposed to a real world economy. Other markets are largely if not completely player - driven, within the framework of how the EVE universe works. So while you wouldn't say that the EVE economy is completely player driven, for the most part yes, the label is well - deserved.

In short, he seems to be confusing a player - driven economy with his preconceptions of what a "fair/ideal" market should look like.
Jan VanRijkdom
House VanRijkdom Trading Conglomerate
#13 - 2013-06-02 07:29:39 UTC
That warped fruit loop instantly discredits himself multiple times. I'm almost thinking that's a troll. This is a classic combo of ignorance coupled with bias and a moderate vocab so as to appear intelligent, when in reality that's some of the most hideously stupid trash I've read in a while. I think I'm dumber for having read it. Just wow.

It would seem according to that pedantic 'gentleman' there can be no 'actual' player/human driven economies on the planet. Sounds like a paranoid extremist with little reasonability or sense of reality.

.

Vera Algaert
Republic University
Minmatar Republic
#14 - 2013-06-02 07:32:06 UTC
Cinara Miriam wrote:

If any game is to have a truly player-driven economy, the currencies must be freely selected by the players, and there must be absolutely zero external, arbitrary source or sink of resources in the game.

TIL real life would would not count as a "player-driven" economy.

.

Vera Algaert
Republic University
Minmatar Republic
#15 - 2013-06-02 07:43:27 UTC  |  Edited by: Vera Algaert
To be honest I disagree with most of OP's arguments in support of his thesis (e.g. EyjoG is a qualified economist, EyjoG did successfully push CCP to reduce the number of artificial price floors/ceilings, the mere availability of resource faucets/sinks does not matter, currency is irrelevant [ISK is a natural resource and there's nothing wrong with that ], ...) but I whole-heartedly agree with the thesis itself.

CCP does intervene (through rebalancing of droprates, of PvE plexes, of production cost. of invention chance, of moon distribution, ... to name just a couple of recent examples) whenever prices take a turn they don't like.

CCP is often slow (whcih allows for a greater illusion of economic freedom) but at the end of the day they do make sure that prices stay at levels they are comfortable with.
They don't tend to interfere with the market itself anymore (save for PLEXes), instead they interfere with the mechanisms that govern supply and demand so that the market will have to arrive at CCP's desired result (price).

The "player-run economy" thing is grossly overhyped in both CCP's marketing and the perception of many EVE players. The EVE economy is only allowed to run freely for as long as it produces the desired results (and when the EVE economy doesn't behave it gets shocked into submission by CCP). A (mostlly) free market for raw materials and goods does not constitute a free economy.

Part of the problem is of course that there is very little endogenous technological innovation in EVE - in the real world a shortage of some raw material will inspire people to look for alternatives and develop new technologies. A classical example would be how the development of synthetic rubbers was greatly accelerated by Germany losing access to natural sources of rubber during WW1 and WW2.
In EVE CCP has to "fix" shortages by rebalancing (making the undersupplied product less desirable), by changing resource distribution or by granting new technology (e.g. Alchemy) like mana from heaven.

Maybe a player-run economy is not possible within the framework of current gen MMOs but that doesn't change that in my opinion advertising EVE as a player-run economy is frivolous.

.

Jan VanRijkdom
House VanRijkdom Trading Conglomerate
#16 - 2013-06-02 08:03:17 UTC  |  Edited by: Jan VanRijkdom
There are interventions and 'artificial meddling' all the time in real economies. The political part of the equation is simultaneously being villianized and forgotten about as a factor in any and every 'real' economy. This guy wants computer modeling or an impossible actuality of a 'true' free market run by the masses when we all know that's ridiculous. The political system set up as is has no reason to remove itself even if it wouldn't destabilise everything.

If he thinks CCP being removed as a governing factor along with the other preposterous conditions for having a 'real' player driven economy is realistic or even feasible, he needs to go back to interesting yet impossible economic modeling, because what he warrants as truly player driven is impossible in virtual or real world economies.

It is not frivolous, a bit relative of you want to get super technical, but where else is the forces of the economy so, yes, player driven, but in eve?

.

Vera Algaert
Republic University
Minmatar Republic
#17 - 2013-06-02 08:11:39 UTC  |  Edited by: Vera Algaert
Jan VanRijkdom wrote:
There are interventions and 'artificial meddling' all the time in real economies. The political part of the equation is simultaneously being villianized and forgotten about as a factor in any and every 'real' economy.

that meddling is endogenous to the economy - you don't have benevolent alines coming down from the skies gifting you technology or redistributing resources in real-life.

.

Vera Algaert
Republic University
Minmatar Republic
#18 - 2013-06-02 08:18:21 UTC  |  Edited by: Vera Algaert
Also, while I am in rant mode and motivated enough to actually post on MD:

all the people complaining about the lack of player-run currencies in EVE need to think more accurately.

When I buy a Somer Blink ticket I am not using (CCP) ISK, I am using the (Somer ISK) balance of my blink account. That balance may be covered by Somer's holdings of CCP ISK to some degree (that I don't know) and there is some convertibility between CCP ISK and Somer ISK but Somer ISK is not CCP ISK.
No CCP ISK is changing hands when I buy lottery tickets or have my winnings added to my Blink balance. What changes hands are (virtual) notes by Somer Blink which promise me that Somer will pay a certain amount of CCP ISK upon receipt of that note.

Yes, you cannot transfer Somer ISK between characters/players easily (the way you could for example transfer EBANK ISK), so it may not meet your (narrow) definition for a currency point by point but it does have several of the key ingredients.

Player-run currencies are not uncommon in EVE.

.

Jan VanRijkdom
House VanRijkdom Trading Conglomerate
#19 - 2013-06-02 08:21:26 UTC  |  Edited by: Jan VanRijkdom
Well, not too long ago we did have magical fairies from the US Gov swoop in for the infamous 'bailout' of private companies, so, yeah, we kind of do see that.

CCP is still analogous in most senses to a composite central bank/government/Resource Organization(OPEC etc).

And as in Eve, in real world economies and not dreamland, these entities are required for stabilizing actions.

.

Sevastian Liao
DreamWeaver Inc.
#20 - 2013-06-02 08:48:11 UTC  |  Edited by: Sevastian Liao
Vera Algaert wrote:

Part of the problem is of course that there is very little endogenous technological innovation in EVE - in the real world a shortage of some raw material will inspire people to look for alternatives and develop new technologies. A classical example would be how the development of synthetic rubbers was greatly accelerated by Germany losing access to natural sources of rubber during WW1 and WW2.
In EVE CCP has to "fix" shortages by rebalancing (making the undersupplied product less desirable), by changing resource distribution or by granting new technology (e.g. Alchemy) like mana from heaven.

Maybe a player-run economy is not possible within the framework of current gen MMOs but that doesn't change that in my opinion advertising EVE as a player-run economy is frivolous.


That's rather unfair to EVE. Research and development is just one part of any functioning economy - An important one to be sure, but the lack of player participation in one of the processes hardly negates the massive amount of player involvement in all other aspects of the overall economy - Production, trade, consumption - to the degree of calling the overall effect of player involvement in the economy "frivolous".

If you look at it from a current gaming context (since we're using the term players) where the technical and balance limitations exclude the possibility of player - run R&D in games to begin with, it very much is a player - run *game* economy. We don't have full immersion games yet, but in our current gaming context with all the associated limitations calling the graphics in, say, Crysis 3 "lifelike" is hardly misrepresentation, for instance.
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