Clearly, the study of economic issues in online gaming is one of DiabloWikiBashiok‘s areas of interest, since he’s returned to an already enormous thread (part one and two) to make two more long posts advancing his theories of how game economies function, what effects DiabloWikiBoP, DiabloWikiBoE, and DiabloWikiBoA have on them, and much more.  Most of the examples raised (by Bashiok or the commenters) pertain to WoW (since WoW is the first and only MMORPG that’s ever had a virtual economy… right?), which is problematic since WoW is an MMORPG, and its DiabloWikieconomy has major differences from that of a game like Diablo 3. But most of the conceptual stuff is interesting, and worth a read.

    Here’s the first post; the second, which is a bit less value-packed, can be read below the break.

    Meh, i think the real issue people take with BoE is an inherent fear of change. For a lot of people, myself included, the joy of d2 was in acquiring the nicest equipment and that equipment had a sort of equity to it. If i got sick of my sorc i could trade my occy, skulders, shako and whatever else for other objects of my desire. BoE outright limits if not destroys most of your equity in that character. I think that is what most people would find distasteful about any BoE/BoP system.

    Bashiok: Sure, it’s a valid point that by making items BoE you can’t break a character down to trade directly for similarly rare items for a different character. But that’s also what helps create a stable economy.

    Personally i prefer a trading econ over a system like say WoW’s where gold is virtually worthless at a point, and a very easily obtainable point i might add.

    Bashiok: The trading economy in WoW is still based on a gold standard, and while it has inflated substantially in the 5 year life of the game, it’s still relatively stable. There have been spikes to be sure *coughOgri’lacough*, and probably not enough there to regularly siphon gold out of the economy *lolmountslol*. But some of that is likely by design. It hasn’t been a completely linear incline I’m sure, but to say it’s worthless because there’s been inflation is missing the fact that it works in WoW, has worked in countless games, and continues to work. But Diablo III is not an MMO, and you can only really make some superficial comparisons.

    Am I missing another reason why you actually might want to force people to have bound equipment other than you want everyone to find their own stuff which deminishes the trading economy and inflates prices beyond belief to the point where people feel almost forced to buy gold in order to afford the few rare items that actually are tradeable? (WoW AH memories, yuck)

    Bashiok: You seem to be confusing BoE (Bind on Equip), with BoP (Bind on Pickup). We do not have Bind on Pickup items. Except for quest items and things like that obviously.

    BoE also allows drop rates to be higher without flooding the economy.

    Bashiok: I want to downplay or even kill this notion now. We do NOT need to drop items more frequently because of Bind on Equip. Let’s not kid ourselves here – the economy in Diablo II is broken. The “fix” for this broken economy is to, every so often, wipe it clean. All characters and items are swept into the trash bin that is non-ladder and we have a pristine economy ready to welcome trading with open arms… until it turns to crap and the whole cycle begins again. This wonderful dystopia also comes with incentives to play there (rankings/unique items/etc.) and it all works to help create a somewhat stable economy. For a little while.

    We could have drop rates in Diablo III with the exact same frequency as Diablo II, and by making the highest items BoE, create a far more stable economy. But just adding in BoE items obviously isn’t going to totally fix things all by itself. It’s important to note that BoE items are not the one stop fix for all economic issues. It’s going to take a lot of different attacks from a lot of different angles to ensure we have a nice stable economy. Bind on Equip items are just one of those attacks.

    An item based trading economy is much more dynamic than one based on gold.

    Bashiok: This is a very nice way of saying it’s completely unmanageable.

    The solution for Diablo II was wiping everything with ladder resets. We think there are better solutions, and they’ll take time and effort to develop all of them.

    Whole thread is silly either way, honestly. Bind on Equip/Pickup is a very large change to the game but, more importantly, it’s something that has to be looked at holistically. We just don’t have enough information to even put out some theorycraft either way.

    Before we can even guess what impact this would have, we would need to know about:
    1. Crafting system if there is one.
    2. Any improvements to the trading system which, let’s be honest, any change at all is going to be an improvement.
    3. Upgrading system for items if it exists, and what it consists of.
    4. Usage of items beyond selling to a merchant or another player, or using that item yourself.

    Kinda the bare minimum of information needed before an actual judgment can even be thought about. :p

    Bashiok: Oh RR… you and your logic.

    I put a few links into the intro, but if you want to read more on the issue of virtual online economies it’s a rich and very well analyzed field. Economists love virtual game worlds since models can be tested in a discrete system where all the inputs are controlled, and it’s easy to alter the variables. Both books by Edward Castronova are excellent; I read them both for some college projects a few years ago, and there’s plenty more in the field if you want to delve into it. What Bashiok and the other forum posters are talking about is barely scratching the surface of the issue.

    Here’s Bashiok’s second post on the same subject.

    I think Bashiok makes some valid points and I understand the logic.

    Bashiok: Thanks

    But if things end up going this direction I can tell you I and many others won’t be happy. What happens to BoE?
    Bashiok: I was just going to… bbbuuuuuwaaaAAAHHHH!?

    Lets take some mid level gear in WoW for instance like the staff of jordan or the fiery war axe. These are fantastic weapons for their levels. The prices for these items became instantly overinflated compared to other weapons because of their power. Now keep in mind it’s a mid level item. I saw them going for an average of like 800-1200 gold depending on who was selling it. First off anyone who levels straight through the game and gets to lvl 50-60 has nowhere near that amount of money, so immediately you can assume new players can’t afford it. Now it’s become pretty much a twink only item for people who have hi level characters because of the lack of availability of the weapons because of their BoE distinction.

    In fact I saw a fiery war axe on the AH once for 450 gold, I instantaneously bought it.. knowing my character could have definitely used it I instead knew it was more valuable to re-sell it rather than equip it, outlevel it, then disenchant it. So i reposted it up for 800 gold and it was sold off. Is this what the defining moment of BoE is supposed to do? Personally I would have found it a lot more enjoyable to use the axe for 5 or 6 days, outlevel it, then sell it off. But that wasn’t one of my options.

    Bashiok: We don’t plan on making any items BoE except for those of a high “end-game” level, so that sort of invalidates your point of creating an issue for lowbies.

    Also, what you’re describing there is a result of there being an enormous gap in World of Warcraft between what a new player can earn while leveling normally and what a level-capped player can amass; not an inherent issue of having items Bind on Equip. The prices are high because people are willing to pay them, and they’re willing to pay them because they have a lot to spend. The reason they have a lot to spend would logically stem from there not being enough systems or features designed to remove it from the economy as fast or as near as fast as someone can earn it. So the difference between what new players can afford and what high end players are able to spend becomes this huge unmanageable gap.

    It’s an economic issue to be sure, but not one created by BoE.

    What does BoE do? Inflation! It doesn’t promote community or trading at all. After a while only the wealthy and rich can afford any of the good gear and new players will be able to do nothing but drool at items they will never be able to obtain unless by chance they are very very VERY lucky and find one. Not to mention they are going to outlevel these items in 10-20 levels and find something better.

    Bashiok: See above.

    What would have happened if there was no BoE? More players would have been trading these items after they outlevelled them and an increase in market flow = lower costs = competition = more community involved in trading of items of this kind of power. Sounds good and positive to me so far.

    Bashiok: What happens is that items continually amass toward infinity until they’re worth nothing.

    The only place I can actually see BoE affecting things the way you are promoting it is if it is applied to endgame items only.

    Bashiok: lol. I must have read over this part and spent all this time writing stuff for nothing… well … there it is. I’M NOT JUST THROWING IT AWAY!

    Even then I am still not happy about it cause what if you find something better than what you have equipped? Wouldn’t it be great to give some hand-me-downs to your buddies rather than having to just sell it to a vendor, or trading it off for a piece of equipment you are missing? I think so at least.

    Bashiok: I think there are other questions you’re missing.

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