Tobold's Blog
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Market booths

What is it with Asian games and market booths? After exploring Bounty Bay Online for a while, I finally gave up on that game, mainly because I had problems selling the items I found or crafted. Like many other Asian games, BBO has no centralized auction house. Instead you need to find yourself a busy area, set up a market booth, and go afk. What a horrible, horrible system!

If you want to sell, you can't do anything else while sitting in your market booth. So unless you dual-box with some trader alt, you can't play while waiting for customers. And you can't even turn your computer off, you need to keep it running in away-from-keyboard mode. If you want to buy, you need to find the various places with market booths, and run from booth to booth looking at offers. There is no way to find out if some item is for sale at all, or to compare prices.

My guess is that the player economy is deliberately designed to work as bad as possible, because of microtransactions. The game company doesn't want an efficient player-run economy, because then they would sell less in-game items themselves. In Bounty Bay Online you can buy various crafting resources for real money, so of course the developers aren't interested in you being able to buy them from another player.

But as I am always very interested in in-game economies, I'll avoid games with market booths instead of auction houses in the future.
Hmm, dunno about that. I know Ragnarok Online years ago (before they did microtransaction stuff themselves) basically had the same sort of non-system; of course, it was even better there because only a specific merchant class (limited in other areas, of course) could do it! It probably isn't even the first example of that sort of mechanic, either.

I suspect it's more a quick and lazy timesaver on the part of the development staff; small Korean games tend not to have the largest budget. It's likely far easier to borrow the generic NPC shopkeeper code than work up a passable auction house. Granted, microtransactions for basic resources probably don't encourage them to put in any further work either, but still.
Aren't Asian MMOs typically pay-per-hour-play rather than the Western pay-per-month model? Making your player go AFK to sell stuff makes good business sense, if it means getting more money from your player. Of course, if the Western port of the game is F2P with microtransactions, this idea breaks down somewhat, but because of the core code they'd be unlikely to change it.
The RP side of me has always been fond of sitting in the city, trying to sell your goods, and it's what I imagined the WoW economy to be like before I started playing the game. In practice though, it sounds horrible.
That's even worse than the early months of the EQ2 broker (WoW translation: auction house), when you had to stay inside your house and logged in to sell anything. At least people could view and buy via the public broker NPCs in the cities.
Maybe it's cultural - people preferring markets to anonymous auction houses?
As rulez said above -- EQ2 totally sucked at 1st due to the requirement that to sell anything you had to have your character online, inside your (paid up for rent) house, set to "merchant mode," and carrying what you wanted to sell in your inventory for anything to even show up on the broker.

On the bright side, people could come to your house and buy it directly off your toon also, in order to avoid the broker fees. Since the "cross faction" fee was 40%, this often made a lot of sense to do, especially since "enemy" guards didn't kill you, just booted you out of the city if they saw you. Still... some zones were easier to avoid guards than others, so sometimes it wasn't feasible.

As it is, I have a couple of different toons with absolutely insane /played times on them from all the overnights they spent logged in and AFK in order to sell.
Well, i don't think that any F2P game is fully playable without the player coughing up some money.
But usually that realization comes when you're so much into the game that spending 20$ on gear sounds more appealing than quiting or going on without them.
Wizard101 got it right I think. So far you get a cheap sub and you have a cash shop. But you don't really need to buy anything to enjoy every aspect of the game. Even in dueling i already manage to beat lots of players that bought gear.
Well, if you've ever been to asia or even gone to Chinatown in NYC or SF, you'll see it is definitely a cultural thing to setup a little table or even just a couple of crates on the sidewalk/street and sell whatever it is you're hawking.

On a more related note to gaming, I think having no centralized auction place creates more interactions between players. I still remember fondly going to Britain or Moonglow bank to buy and sell stuff in Ultima Online. It was a much more interactive system that allowed for things like bargaining and *gasp* speaking to other players...
Haha, I would think tiny shophouses would give it more of a market place feel. A bit of chaos, a bit of lag, and bargains to be found everywhere.

I remember playing ragnarok online, and prontera was stuffed full with shops, and it lagged as much as dalaran does these days. But it was always fun checking shops for underpriced steals, although it could take a very long time.
Ragnarok online even had a whole merchant class, dedicated for such a economic system.

Auction house certainly makes things smoother, but having your own shophouse could be pretty cool in that it is your "housing" to customise as much as you wish.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool