Tobold's Blog
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thought for the day: Gold cap

I sold a Merlin's Robe for 7,500 gold today, the most expensive item I ever sold. While specific items in WoW tend to get cheaper from the moment they hit the game because they get more common with time, like Battered Hilts, and Primordial Saronite as recent examples, the overall price level and availability of gold goes up from one expansion to the next. Some items already sell for over 10k on the auction house. I wonder at which point Blizzard will either stop that inflation, or have to raise the gold cap from the current 214,748 gold.
I tend to agree with you. Back in BC, you were lucky if any single auction was above 2.5k

Today, I can't count how many auctions I have actually sold for more than this.

Gold cap ? Getting pretty close, and I'm just a casual player. I think any serious player should be capped by now.
Food for thought: a gold cap doesn't really exist, 214k x 10 characters on an account - and if you have one alt with their own guild, and guild bank... how much gold can a guild bank hold? I think we're still a ways away from seeing that cap :)
The current gold limit seems to be 2 billion in copper (or 2**31). To raise it would probably mean switching to unsigned integers wherever they look at this currency value, or switching to a 64-bit number.

Either way it may well be a pretty expensive thing to do.
I really hope they don't change the gold cap.
If it goes up, all the "i am a real buisnessman so i can make gold in wow" type of gob.. people will return to the AH and drive prices up (even more than they are now) so that people who do not care about making gold will have to spend even more time doing tedious chores to be able to play the game they find fun.
I doubt they will; whilst many people loudly and smugly claim how much gold they've got, I think that much like the forums, they're a tiny vocal minority. I'd be highly surprised if more than 75% of the playerbase has over 30k gold, and I'd be even more surprised if more than 5% had reached the gold cap. It's not a particularly burning issue either, since the focus is on PvE and PvP; and besides, you can have more than one character.
I wonder why the gold cap is that particular number. Looks familiar, somehow. Is it just an arbitrary value, or is it something to do with C/C++? Sorry if this has been answered elsewhere...
How can they stop it without making an extremely popular, extremely expensive gold sink? I don't see it as being possible.
Personally I think that MMO games don't really need dynamic economies, and I know that many will disagree with me. Hear me out though.

With the economy that is right now in WoW the items which are in high demand and low supply are very expensive, and when this is reversed so is the price. Really nothing strange with that. The problem is that there is in my opinion too low population to support such economies.

So what to do? Well introducing a static economy would be one solution. An AH buys items from players at a fixed price, say slightly above the material costs, the exact amount could be debated of course.

The AH then sells these items at a marked up price. You could actually make it semi-dynamic also by having the buy/sell price vary according to how many items are on the AH of that type at that point. I guess that could be exploited but that could be countered as well. The AH only sells as many items as it has bought from players.

This makes possible profits less, but also minimizes losses where some people are posting items at several thousand percent above it's "real" value.

This would also actually make skilling up make a little bit of money. It has always annoyed me when you've made 50 of generic item #32 just to vendor them at a loss.

It's possible to make exceptions if you would really like to though. Like having the good BoE items posted to the AH in the same way as it is now, making it possible to actually make big profits from the really good items.
I wouldn't be much surprised of a new gold tier (platinum?) in cataclysm :D

That said, i'm not really trying to make money, and raiding is quite costly with two chars, so i find myself always at around 15k gold overall. The actual scale suits me fine :)
At some point, the gold cap will actually limit prices. I think the issue is two-fold: first, it is much easier now to get gold, even at the lowest levels, so people have a lot to spend and second, the cap forces you to spend it or lose it. So there is an influx of gold into the AH "market," raising prices. At some point, though, people will be spending too much of a percentage of their maximum gold on one item, and it will effectively cap prices. The thing is that we haven't reached that level yet, so it looks like inflation is out of control.

As tomw hints the gold cap of 214,748 gold is 2,147,480,000 copper (1g = 10,000c).

The integer 2,147,483,648 is the largest *positive* integer that can be stored in a signed 32-bit space using standard integer notation.

So yes, the limit is a technical one. There's no technical reason the limit can be extended but it would take a fair amount of work. No, it's not as simple as saying 'well use unsigned numbers then'.
I think we're still a bit away from the gold cap being a serious problem. Just because one item sells for 10k on the AH or 20k from a mount vendor doesn't mean many people will have multiples of those items.
Inflation is always bad. It's to late to reduce the inflation though.

The best Blizzard can do is prevent further inflation. Gold inflation, stat inflation, item inflation, you would think by now MMO developers would recognize the pitfalls of this.
@Justin - 2^63 -1
@Dril - there was a nice little addon posted by Gevlon once, that upon a mouse-over, would show a player's highest obtained gold level. Note however, IIRC, the number is simply based off of that player's achievement. So it only shows the highest that player has obtained, not exactly what they have at that moment, or include that they had pre-achievements.

None the less, I have found that lvl 80 players vary greatly. I would have to say I see most players around the 4-5k gold mark. Certainly not broke, but by no means overly whealthy to be able to buy 10k+ gear/vannity items. Even around the AH, I don't see many players with more than 10k, and I've only seen a select few with more than 30k. Then again, there are many shortcomings from the addon, and I can't know what a player has on a bank alt.

My rough conclusion is: gold is very easy to obtain, but just as easy to spend, it actually takes some effort to accumulate gold.
Nobs, I would guess Cataclysm with its half expansion would be a recognition they can't just keep jacking the max.

That said, its really hard to control inflation in a world where nothing ever breaks or has upkeep fees. I can't remember the last time I bought barley for my stable of 14 different land mounts, ya know. Or that time my sword broke so bad it couldn't be fixed. There's only so much gold sinking you can do before you make the game unplayable for people who don't collect lots of gold for fun. So basically inflation is inevitable, and Blizzard isn't so much creating more inflation with each expac as it is trying to cope with the inevitable inflation that occurs in an economy with no decay. As long as the economy works, it doesn't matter if stuff cots 20k or 10k or 100k. And the mathmatical gold cap is easily remedied by adding a platinum coin, so that is an easy fix when it comes to it.

If Blizz really wanted to curb inflation, they would let you buy raid gear with gold. That would drain the economy of its extra liquidity real quick.
I really doubt that the goldcap will be such a big issue any time soon, I know few people who break 10k gold. It's easy to worry about such issues if you're one of the few who do risk reaching the cap, but those seem to be few and far between.

Of course it could just be my server, but I didn't see a big increase in AH prices or in my own income either from TBC to WotLK. I make like 1g more per daily at 80 than I did at 70.

I think that is the big issue. Most people are content just grinding dailies and don't play the AH like the true rich players do.
I think I have less than 1500g across all my characters added together. So far I haven't really found anything to spend it on.

Not going to worry about the cap for now.

Can't they use a signed long long int?

" So yes, the limit is a technical one. There's no technical reason the limit can be extended but it would take a fair amount of work. No, it's not as simple as saying 'well use unsigned numbers then'.

Maybe not as hard as you think. If no stack of items needs to be priced above the current gold cap you can kludge it.

The existing system remains intact. Add a second value (62 or 63 bits worth for example) for "unspendable cash on hand". Add new API for "display cash" that produces a string for total cash (the existing system's value plus the unspendable amount).

When recieveing cash it goes to the new (larger) variable. Then cash goes from that variable to the old variable until it hits the cap. For even less disruption to the old code paths if you limit the cost of a stack to (say) half the old gold cap you just dump cash into the old variable and then suck cash out until it hits (or drops below) the old cap. Depending on how the old code is structured there may be other ways to do this.

When sending cash it goes out from the old variable, and then cash is removed from the new variable and stuffed into the old one until it hits it;s limit.

Any mod that wants to show how much cash a player has needs to switch to the new API to work properly for players who have hit the "old" gold cap. However even if a mod didn't adopt the new API it would show the player as capped once they pass the cap. Not a severe malfunction.

It could be coded up in an hour (assuming their DB storage handles 64 bit values...or BCD values, or even multiple 32/31 bit values in a single transaction). Then tested in "a few weeks".

The first change might even work.

However the testing is still a lot of work. Bugs that slip through that testing will be a bitch. Also most importantly of all people don't work well with huge numbers. In a game that is important. A new larger currency (like D&D's platinum pieces, and astral diamonds) might help. Or finding better gold sinks. Or addressing the inflationary pressures.
Thanks to the miracle of Tooltip Wealth, I've been doing a (highly unstructured) survey of wealth in WOW.

On the RP server I'm on, about 4K gold is about the median wealth. I've seen 6 chars with > 20K and only 2 with 200K+.

In other words, extremes levels of wealth are very rare. I suspect that's because most people don't care that much about accumulating gold and spend what they have above a "safe" base level on whatever takes their fancy, whether that be mounts, epics or pets. Ultimately, gold has no intrinsic worth - it only provides value when you spend it on something you want.
Quite honestly, in the debate about MMOflation, Blizzard is the biggest target for blame in this.

*Uses old person voice*

I remember back in the day when even the roughest and toughest of level 60 quests would only rarely give you a gold as a reward. Now you can just go do a daily and get 10 gold as a selectable reward! In addition to the gold for the quest!

Darn whippernapers.
Andrew not everybody keeps their gold on their main. My 80 man has 21k and probably has never had more then 22-23k. My bank alt has 45k and has been as high as 60, I have 5k-20k each spread across 4 more characters ie my JC has 19k because thats how much JC stuff i have sold. Unless I actually need the gold on one character I dont send it around and if its that big a purchase I would probably use my bank alt anyway,

I cant see blizzard changing it unless single item sales creep that high.

Darkmeanplate I paid 10k for my sunwell chest pattern in tbc and their was a standing offer on my realm forums in classic of 5k for the boe Rejuv potion recipe from MC.
I like to think they'll remove it.

However, if they don't, there's always room for a bottomless gold sink.

Like creating a city 'charity' to which a player can donate an accumulated (and non-capped) amount of gold? The player who has donated the most wins a title. Or if they want to make it even more popular, the inn in that city is prefixed with the player's name. Having everyone's hearthstone saying Returns you to Tobold's Legerdemain Inn would certainly tickle some people's egos.
You could just drop copper pieces as currency. That would increase the gold cap by a factor of 100.
Could they just decide with Cataclysm to remove Copper, and add Plat so you would have silver, gold, and plat? That would eliminate any huge code undertaking to raise the cap.
Ngita : I don't consider Sunwell as being par of BC.

What I mean, is at that point they were already in the "WotLK mode" and with those dailies on the island injected so much money in the economy that it was then that inflation really started.
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