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Preventing Anticompetitive Practices

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CallmeBlue
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Preventing Anticompetitive Practices

MWM has said that we will have gear, and that therefore there will be a market to help buyers and sellers interact.

Ideally, such a market would allow goods to be redistributed at something close to equilibrium prices. The people making the most profit would be the ones who could deliver the most desirable goods at the best prices.

Unfortunately, MMO markets differ enough from real ones so that it is often more lucrative to bottleneck supply of key goods, actually preventing most people from being able to buy these goods. While a true monopoly is usually impossible, because items will continue to drop to some degree, oligopoly can often be maintained for periods of time, such as during leveling events. This was a serious problem in CoH.

Since gear is a form of progression, such oligopolies effectively bottleneck character development. Why should some small group of people be able to choke off the progression of many or most other players in a game community?

Yes, I know that bottlenecks can form on their own. But there was hardly a shortage that certain people didn't make worse on purpose.

When some people in a game community make life difficult for other players on purpose, that is a form of griefing, is it not? Here's a simple test: if the FTC would investigate someone for an activity in real life, then chances are its analogue in a game is bad for the community too.

I know that the devs are working on ways to make the market in CoT more robust than it was in CoH, and it's probably best to say as little as possible about the specifics. However, could we get a commitment from them to treat anticompetitive practices as griefing, and apply consequences appropriately?

Some might say that nobody left CoH over the oligopolies in the CoH market, but I actually knew people who did. It would be a shame to have these kinds of problems here.

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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CallmeBlue wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

Since gear is a form of progression

First, for the record, when we discuss gear in CoT we are discussin augments and refinements and maybe some temporary powers.
MWM has assured us that there will be minimal if any gear progression. Progression will be more horizontal, they have said.

If there will be levelling events, gear will not required at all for them. However, if I understand you correctly and say that the level cap gets raised and new augment and refinement sets come out, there could be some powerful marketeers who hoard the new sets in order to control supply and thus drive demand and prices up. I suppose that will be a reality. But the difference is that the new sets will not be required to conquer the new content, nor will they be required to raise in level. If they are required to conquer the new content than that is a violation of MWM's heretofore stated intentions.

The only place where I see such market manipulation effecting gameplay is in PvP if some PvP guild restrict the availability of sets to other PvP players.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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It's also been stated that

It's also been stated that the best 'gear', ie Augments and Refinements, will be crafted and not a matter of 'rare drops'. So, all that has to happen, to break a monopoly, is for someone to learn the skill and Compete. Thus, no action from the Devs should be necessary, however, I hear they plan to have the NPC Vendors working the Market, as well, so they could tweak supply and demand that way and just let the market-forces do the work.

Be Well!
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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

It's also been stated that the best 'gear', ie Augments and Refinements, will be crafted and not a matter of 'rare drops'. So, all that has to happen, to break a monopoly, is for someone to learn the skill and Compete. Thus, no action from the Devs should be necessary, however, I hear they plan to have the NPC Vendors working the Market, as well, so they could tweak supply and demand that way and just let the market-forces do the work.

Again, not a true statement. As far as we have been told, rare augments and refinements will exist. Their rarity will be determined by the rarity of the recipe dropping, or the rarity of some special ingredient dropping.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Exactly. Things can still be

Exactly. Things can still be rare (and likely will be :p)

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Huckleberry wrote:
Huckleberry wrote:

CallmeBlue wrote:
Since gear is a form of progression
First, for the record, when we discuss gear in CoT we are discussin augments and refinements and maybe some temporary powers.
MWM has assured us that there will be minimal if any gear progression. Progression will be more horizontal, they have said.
If there will be levelling events, gear will not required at all for them. However, if I understand you correctly and say that the level cap gets raised and new augment and refinement sets come out, there could be some powerful marketeers who hoard the new sets in order to control supply and thus drive demand and prices up. I suppose that will be a reality. But the difference is that the new sets will not be required to conquer the new content, nor will they be required to raise in level. If they are required to conquer the new content than that is a violation of MWM's heretofore stated intentions.
The only place where I see such market manipulation effecting gameplay is in PvP if some PvP guild restrict the availability of sets to other PvP players.

Pretty much by definition, nothing in a game is "necessary." It is not necessary to reach level 50, level 2, or even download the client, for that matter.

However, people actively working to prevent others from obtaining things in game that might make their characters more awesome is just messed up. Would people appreciate it if someone found a "veto" switch by which he could prevent others from leveling up? How is abuse of the market any different?

Remember, these are not devs, nor even elected representatives, making decisions that adversely affect others. There is no responsibility, and no consequences...unless the devs apply some to these people.

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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CallmeBlue wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

Pretty much by definition, nothing in a game is "necessary." It is not necessary to reach level 50, level 2, or even download the client, for that matter.
However, people actively working to prevent others from obtaining things in game that might make their characters more awesome is just messed up. Would people appreciate it if someone found a "veto" switch by which he could prevent others from leveling up? How is abuse of the market any different?
Remember, these are not devs, nor even elected representatives, making decisions that adversely affect others. There is no responsibility, and no consequences...unless the devs apply some to these people.

Apparently my wording was not clear enough. When I stated that gear was not required for levelling events I meant that that would not be needed to level up in the event. I did not mean that the levelling up event is not necessary.

It sure appears as if you are looking at this from WoW-esque perspective in which the gear bonuses affect attributes, DPS, etc, such that a certain gear score is necessary in order to succeed in the next tier raid, etc. As far as we have been told, that will not be the case in CoT and it wasn't the case in CoX either.

Rather, new sets of augments and refinements will be a secondary mini-game of sorts enabling you to tweak your character a bit differently if you can collect all the pokemon to build them. If a few players have camped on the last two, it won't debilitate your build or your character and it certainly won't prevent you from levelling or completing content.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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CallmeBlue wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

MWM has said that we will have gear, and that therefore there will be a market to help buyers and sellers interact.
Ideally, such a market would allow goods to be redistributed at something close to equilibrium prices. The people making the most profit would be the ones who could deliver the most desirable goods at the best prices.
Unfortunately, MMO markets differ enough from real ones so that it is often more lucrative to bottleneck supply of key goods, actually preventing most people from being able to buy these goods. While a true monopoly is usually impossible, because items will continue to drop to some degree, oligopoly can often be maintained for periods of time, such as during leveling events. This was a serious problem in CoH.
Since gear is a form of progression, such oligopolies effectively bottleneck character development. Why should some small group of people be able to choke off the progression of many or most other players in a game community?

I agree that the market should be safeguarded in order to help create a welcome environment for newcomers to the game. I am not sure your thinking (illegal in real life=illegal in game) is the right way to do it.
As you said, monopoly and even oligopoly is difficult to maintain. It's not so much that one or few can manipulate the market for short periods of time, it's the fact that their manipulation has a lasting effect.

To explain what I mean. Few players study the market and instead rely on the simple 'sale history' or 'current listings' of items on the market to inform them. If the last 5 widgets sold for 10 moneys they sell theirs for 10 moneys, or if they see most of that widget is currently selling for 10 they list for 10. They simply won't know that only a day ago the item sold for 2 because they want to play the game not the market. As a result, once a market manipulator succeeds in increasing the sale cost of an item the market then feeds off the players nature and it takes time (and in some cases effort) for the market to settle again. This says nothing of the natural inflation that occurs simply because IGC is a renewable resource.

Real FTC laws (even dumb down laws) would be almost impossible to enforce in the game. Mostly because the economy in an MMO does not operate the same as the real world economy. Not to mention that it would make the market a confusing mess of rules most players wouldn't enjoy dealing with.

I personally think that there should be caps on how much an item can be listed for based on it's rarity. Now it's true that in all but a few cases every item will end up selling for the cap all the time. It's also true that this makes the market a more predictable (and thus less intimidating) environment. Players will know that common items sell for a certain amount and cannot exceed that amount and while rare items will sell for much more they too have a limit on what they can cost. As a result players can reasonably gauge how long it will take them to afford the items they want. Whats more, a predictable market cost reflects a familiar economic reality. We don't go buy a soda for a buck one day and the next find that they cost 20 just because a guy bought everything in the cooler.

This still leaves the door open for the entrepreneurial player. The ultra rare items (those seldom if ever on the market) can still be sold directly to players for any agreed amount. Smart players will also 'game' the system and figure a way to use cheap crafting for high profit. Limited market manipulation can still occur by dealing in the rarer items (as it should be) instead of the common ones (which should not be).

Market caps also give the devs an easier way (unless they have one I haven't heard of) to data mine information on the economy and adjust things as needed.

Like I said, I do agree that players who manipulate the market can be a negative aspect (although I won't go so far as to call it griefing) of the game. There should be some measure of checks and balances to ensure they don't become as problematic as they have in other games. I am just more in favor of a simple set of rules anyone can follow regardless of their interest in playing the market.

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There had been talk of the

There had been talk of the devs maintaining NPCs that are active market participants. That is, the NPC would buy and sell stuff on the same auction system as the real players use. One can imagine that these NPCs might even be given the ability to create and destroy IGC and/or even items. I think this would require some pretty sopisticated programming to make it work autonomously, that or active monitoring by the devs. So if you try to corner the market on some resource, there might be an NPC who automatically (or due to dev agency) creates more of that resource out of thin air to break the monopoly.

In GW2, there are NPCs that you can sell of unwanted junk swords etc to for IGC. You can either sell your junk to them, or on the trading post. Trading post get's you more money, usually, but for some items that going rate is so low that you can't move your junk to anyone and you're better off selling to the NPCs. Unlike CoX, where the NPCs bought a ton of stuff for BETTER prices than you could get elsewhere, GW2 makes the NPCs the last resort by making them the worst option in all cases, but the only option in some. This is accomplished by having a minimum price that the trading post will allow you to transact at for each item. If you want to sell a sword and nobody want's to buy it for at least 50copper, you can't even try to sell it on TP, you have to go to the NPC and sell for like 30copper. GW2 also has a lot of stuff that's account bound or character bound.

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Having NPCs "actively playing

Having NPCs "actively playing the market" then allows for the functional equivalent of soft boundaries for high/low parameters to be established for both supplies and for demand. Having the NPCs "take losses" on their transactions can then wind up sinking various resources out of the market over time.

Simplest example would be that the price of a commodity is going "too high" because some cartel has cornered the market in it, using what amounts to "monopoly power" to keep supplies low and prices high. An NPC steps in and starts offering that same commodity at discounted rates, "breaking" the monopoly stranglehold on that particular commodity, impacting the cartel's strategy of controlling that particular commodity.

Likewise, if the supply of a commodity becomes to great and the prices for that commodity crater ... and NPC can step in, buy up all of the excess (at rock bottom prices) and then destroy their (over)stock of that commodity, reducing over supply.

Ultimately, you'd really want to have an MWM employee "monitoring" what the NPCs are doing so as to spot trends and be able to datamine market player behaviors, just like a real analyst, and adjust the behavior of the NPCs accordingly every so often so that it is difficult to "game the system" by which the NPCs are running. In other words, what amounts to a periodic "sanity check" on the NPCs that are participating in the market.


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Beware of NPCs playing the

Beware of NPCs playing the market. An unforseen logic result could destroy the market. Just look at what happened with Secret World: Legends:
http://massivelyop.com/2017/06/26/secret-world-legends-bans-weekend-currency-exploiters/


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Hence why "adult supervision"

Hence why "adult supervision" from a human to keep tabs on the programs is a good idea. ^_~


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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

Hence why "adult supervision" from a human to keep tabs on the programs is a good idea. ^_~

As long as your so-called "adult supervision" doesn't decide to do this to the game we'll be fine...

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While short-term effects of

While short-term effects of player attacks on the market were most easily noticeable in CoH, I agree that the long-term effects have the greatest potential for griefing. Someone with sufficiently deep pockets could make some rare items effectively impossible to obtain, for no reason other than for personal gratification at having gamed the system.

To be clear, I don't mind if the devs make some items extremely rare. That's WAI. But players should never be able to attain the power to make those decisions.

My fear is that any static system of market defenses, no matter how elaborate, eventually will fall to dedicated attacks by motivated cartels. It just might take more players, and more formal cooperation to reach that point.

That's why I believe that proper preparation also must include plans for direct market intervention by devs as needed, and penalties for those who try to break the game.

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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CallmeBlue wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

While short-term effects of player attacks on the market were most easily noticeable in CoH, I agree that the long-term effects have the greatest potential for griefing. Someone with sufficiently deep pockets could make some rare items effectively impossible to obtain, for no reason other than for personal gratification at having gamed the system.

To be clear, I don't mind if the devs make some items extremely rare. That's WAI. But players should never be able to attain the power to make those decisions.

Not to be argumentative but do you not see the mixed message you are presenting?

On one hand you are stating that players can make obtaining items almost impossible yet on the other you are saying that its WAI for the game to include extremely rare items.
The market isn't the only option players have to obtain items. They can earn them just like those who are selling them.

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CoH partly countered market

CoH partly countered market manipulation and set upper limits on prices by making nearly every rare item purchasable either from special NPC vendors via various merits/tickets or the cash shop. Any rare drops reward system + market without this sort of relief valve is likely to bring about a great deal of sorrow, especially to alt-makers who are hunting multiple copies of rare items. I love market gameplay about as much as anyone does, and NPC market adjusters sound new and interesting, but are an untested method compared to the guaranteed relief valve (NPC "special currency" vendor) that has worked in every case where I've seen it properly used - where costs are set appropriately, not 10x too high. I'd like a mix of the new ideas and proven ones.

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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

While short-term effects of player attacks on the market were most easily noticeable in CoH, I agree that the long-term effects have the greatest potential for griefing. Someone with sufficiently deep pockets could make some rare items effectively impossible to obtain, for no reason other than for personal gratification at having gamed the system.

To be clear, I don't mind if the devs make some items extremely rare. That's WAI. But players should never be able to attain the power to make those decisions.

Not to be argumentative but do you not see the mixed message you are presenting?

On one hand you are stating that players can make obtaining items almost impossible yet on the other you are saying that its WAI for the game to include extremely rare items.

The market isn't the only option players have to obtain items. They can earn them just like those who are selling them.

Everything like this "costs" something - usually either time or money.

Any player can choose to spend a lot of time playing/farming the game to get a rare drop or they can choose to buy the rare drop on the open market. Now obviously players can't control the drops but they can potentially control the markets if the markets are designed to allow for it. So if you're a player who perhaps can only play a few hours a week you likely can't afford to spend "time" to get item X but you might be able to save up enough "money" to buy item X, of course assuming certain player(s) are not cornering the markets and making it hard to buy item X.

So this is why having rare drops is WAI but players artificially making things too rare in the markets is something that should at the very least be monitored if not outright regulated.

CoH player from April 25, 2004 to November 30, 2012

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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

but players artificially making things too rare in the markets is something that should at the very least be monitored if not outright regulated.

Say it with me kids ... distorting the market beyond boundaries is wrong.


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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

So this is why having rare drops is WAI but players artificially making things too rare in the markets is something that should at the very least be monitored if not outright regulated.

While I agree that exploitative market manipulation should be controlled I strongly disagree with your reasoning.

The player market is not a store. It does not add items to the game. Players should never 'expect' for an item to be available with any regularity (or as you say not too rare). The player who earns the item (regardless of it being a drop, a reward or they bought it) has the right to use it, mothball it, destroy it or sell it. They earned it and it is theirs to do with as they wish.

That being said, players should not be able to exploit that right to inflate the sale price of an item beyond what should be expected (as determined by the developers).

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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:

Lothic wrote:
So this is why having rare drops is WAI but players artificially making things too rare in the markets is something that should at the very least be monitored if not outright regulated.
While I agree that exploitative market manipulation should be controlled I strongly disagree with your reasoning.
The player market is not a store. It does not add items to the game. Players should never 'expect' for an item to be available with any regularity (or as you say not too rare). The player who earns the item (regardless of it being a drop, a reward or they bought it) has the right to use it, mothball it, destroy it or sell it. They earned it and it is theirs to do with as they wish.
That being said, players should not be able to exploit that right to inflate the sale price of an item beyond what should be expected (as determined by the developers).

Actually my "reasoning" was basically concerned with exactly what you just said here. I never made any claim that players should always expect to be able to buy item X, Y, Z in the stores and I didn't even say that players should not be able to "play" the markets to be able to get as much money as possible from the things they sell. I simply was stressing that there should be reasonable "upper limits" to how high prices can be allowed to get. I honestly don't see how my overall "reasoning" on this was really that much different from yours - at worst we may just be using different words to say essentially the same thing.

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In CoH, the market was

In CoH, the market was overrun by trolls and scammers. All other things being equal, it is reasonable to suppose that they will try the same sorts of things here.

Mechanical schemes to protect the market are only half of the solution, like locks on one's doors. A commitment to punish people who try to break the game is the other half of the solution, like laws against breaking and entering.

Whatever else it may be, the market will be a public resource for the community, like zone chat. Is it a good idea to let trolls and scammers overrun zone chat? After all, zone chat isn't "necessary" either...

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

Actually my "reasoning" was basically concerned with exactly what you just said here. I never made any claim that players should always expect to be able to buy item X, Y, Z in the stores and I didn't even say that players should not be able to "play" the markets to be able to get as much money as possible from the things they sell. I simply was stressing that there should be reasonable "upper limits" to how high prices can be allowed to get. I honestly don't see how my overall "reasoning" on this was really that much different from yours - at worst we may just be using different words to say essentially the same thing.

Perhaps I misunderstood your use of 'players artificially making things too rare in the markets is something that should at the very least be monitored if not outright regulated'. I initially took that to be a reference to availability and not cost.

Does this mean you agree with my suggestion of a hard listing cap based on item rarity from post #8? If not how would you do it?

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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:

Lothic wrote:
Actually my "reasoning" was basically concerned with exactly what you just said here. I never made any claim that players should always expect to be able to buy item X, Y, Z in the stores and I didn't even say that players should not be able to "play" the markets to be able to get as much money as possible from the things they sell. I simply was stressing that there should be reasonable "upper limits" to how high prices can be allowed to get. I honestly don't see how my overall "reasoning" on this was really that much different from yours - at worst we may just be using different words to say essentially the same thing.
Perhaps I misunderstood your use of 'players artificially making things too rare in the markets is something that should at the very least be monitored if not outright regulated'. I initially took that to be a reference to availability and not cost.
Does this mean you agree with my suggestion of a hard listing cap based on item rarity from post #8? If not how would you do it?

Hard price caps won't work, because people will just switch to barter outside the market. Having a vendor that sells items for large sums of currency is one example of a "soft cap" that might help.

People can still spend more in the market place if they want, but they will feel pretty foolish about it afterward. The ease of access to this vendor would determine its utility. Also, keeping the vendor prices "high," but not unreasonable, would require constant effort for the devs.

In any case, to my knowledge, the devs have not confirmed such a feature.

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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Mr. Drupal wrote:
Mr. Drupal wrote:

In CoH, the market was overrun by trolls and scammers. All other things being equal, it is reasonable to suppose that they will try the same sorts of things here.

Mechanical schemes to protect the market are only half of the solution, like locks on one's doors. A commitment to punish people who try to break the game is the other half of the solution, like laws against breaking and entering.

I am sorry but I find your interpretation of the CoH market to be slightly off. IMO the CoH market was not ruined by 'trolls and scammers', it was adversely affected by the poor handling of the games economy. But that is a different discussion.

I also think that throwing words like 'punish' into the mix is counter productive. We should be discussing preventative measures not punitive ones.

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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

In CoH, the market was overrun by trolls and scammers.

I am sorry but I find your interpretation of the CoH market to be slightly off. IMO the CoH market was not ruined by 'trolls and scammers', it was adversely affected by the poor handling of the games economy. But that is a different discussion.

In order for a market to function, the participants in that market need a LOT of information in order to make informed decisions. City of Heroes DENIED Players that necessary level of information by limiting what information was available to the last 5-10 transactions, making it extremely EASY to manipulate the data people had available to them to make judgements with. Change the information and you change the price points at which things can be bought and sold. Sound familiar?


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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:

Mr. Drupal wrote:
In CoH, the market was overrun by trolls and scammers. All other things being equal, it is reasonable to suppose that they will try the same sorts of things here.
Mechanical schemes to protect the market are only half of the solution, like locks on one's doors. A commitment to punish people who try to break the game is the other half of the solution, like laws against breaking and entering.
I am sorry but I find your interpretation of the CoH market to be slightly off. IMO the CoH market was not ruined by 'trolls and scammers', it was adversely affected by the poor handling of the games economy. But that is a different discussion.
I also think that throwing words like 'punish' into the mix is counter productive. We should be discussing preventative measures not punitive ones.

There was damage done by mishandling, and there was damage done by genuine trolls and scammers. I received at least one mis-tell from someone bragging about having bought and destroyed millions of inf worth of goods as part of a scheme to destabilize the market. Since I wasn't at all active on the forums in CoH, there was no reason to target me with disinformation. In any case, there was other circumstantial evidence of purposeful attacks.

Prevention is needed, but so is a stated policy of punishment.

By the way, who is "Mr. Drupal," and why are you attributing my words to him?

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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Part of the problem is that

Part of the problem is that the market in CoX was pretty small to begin with. I mean, I doubt anyone in GW2 could buy up all of the Thick Leather Sections or something just to ttry to corner that market, just because of how many people and items there are in the game. CoX was lot smaller though, so you COULD buy up all of the Hamidon Goos or whatever to try to corner the market often.

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CallmeBlue wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

Hard price caps won't work, because people will just switch to barter outside the market.

I would need to see your evidence of this.

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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

In order for a market to function, the participants in that market need a LOT of information in order to make informed decisions. City of Heroes DENIED Players that necessary level of information by limiting what information was available to the last 5-10 transactions, making it extremely EASY to manipulate the data people had available to them to make judgements with. Change the information and you change the price points at which things can be bought and sold. Sound familiar?

Yes information as a safeguard sounds familiar. I said as much a few posts ago. I also said that players will not study the market and will only rely on a few items listed or recently sold to make their decisions. This includes if they have easy access to that information.

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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:

Yes information as a safeguard sounds familiar. I said as much a few posts ago. I also said that players will not study the market and will only rely on a few items listed or recently sold to make their decisions. This includes if they have easy access to that information.

So, the game needs a 'Wall Street Journal'? Or, perhaps simply a way to view long-term market reports on a given commodity? Price-tracking? I seem to recall such a thing being suggested, years ago.

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CallmeBlue wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

There was damage done by mishandling, and there was damage done by genuine trolls and scammers. I received at least one mis-tell from someone bragging about having bought and destroyed millions of inf worth of goods as part of a scheme to destabilize the market. Since I wasn't at all active on the forums in CoH, there was no reason to target me with disinformation. In any case, there was other circumstantial evidence of purposeful attacks.

So basically no evidence then.

There are those who deliberately make it a goal to destroy or control a games economy. Just for clarity I am talking about the economy, not the market. A player run market is their greatest tool in doing so. It takes a long time for these types of people to achieve their goals and the best defense against it is having the devs not be stupid. It would not take much for a smart person to notice an economic trend in the game and shut it down.
In fact very few games have had their economy destabilized and even fewer still who were not able to correct it quickly. Whats more, most of those few game that suffered this was a result of exploits outside of markets such as bot farming or duping items/ currency. CoH itself had it's own instance of duping for a short period.
I hate using wikipedia as evidence but here is some evidence:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duping_(gaming)

Destructive players are hamstrung almost to the point where their goal becomes impossible outside of a player market. So driving them to make direct player to player sales outside of the market is akin to stopping them.
My evidence:
https://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=143089
If you want more I can provide it.
As for punishing these people, bot farmers, dupers or those who seek to destroy/ control the economy. It would be in the terms of service everyone agrees to when they first start the game under a sub heading titled something like 'shit you are not allowed to do'. And the punishment for any infractions against shit you can't do is denial of service.

But I am not discussing those who want to destabilize the games economy and didn't think you were either. I am discussing exploitative market manipulation. The goal for most who manipulate a player market is profit. It's not griefing or trolling or destabilization. And while this practice is selfish and has a negative impact on the game it is usually done from a position of ignorance not malice. Mandatory punitive response far too often will target the clueless or innocent. It is better to prevent the practice than to slap those who participate.

CallmeBlue wrote:

By the way, who is "Mr. Drupal," and why are you attributing my words to him?

Hotkey cut and paste combined with forgetting to replace the name.

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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

So, the game needs a 'Wall Street Journal'?

Hardly.

Fireheart wrote:

Or, perhaps simply a way to view long-term market reports on a given commodity? Price-tracking? I seem to recall such a thing being suggested, years ago.

I have little doubt that someone out there will take it upon themselves to track price trends for commodities over time ... mainly because people did that in City of Heroes, so there's precedent. No, what I'm talking about is using an auction house UI that is more similar to World of Warcraft than what City of Heroes gave us.

City of Heroes was based on a double blind method of auctioning. You couldn't see what prices other people were actively listing for at any given time, you could only see what prices things had been bought/sold for most recently (the last 5-10 transactions). This was a design to PREVENT giving Players knowledge to work with in order to "shop for deals" among the commodities on offer. If you wanted to "find the lowest sale price" you basically had to bid/cancel/bid/cancel/bid/cancel/wash/rinse/repeat slowly raising your bid until you reached a price point that sold. It was tedious and entirely unnecessary. The whole thing was basically designed to cause people to routinely overbid for items on sale.

In short, it was a hassle to "ping" the market to find the price points of what things were actually listed to sell for. Information was LIMITED and also easily falsified by just spamming a bunch of sales to show whatever price point you wanted to have up for show. It therefore took very little work to skew what little information WAS available in order to twist the information given to serve a market Player's agenda.

Contrast that with the World of Warcraft auction house where not only do you get to see ALL of the items being auctioned, but you also get to see the character name of the seller(!), the current bid amount and the buyout price, on EVERY ITEM that is up for sale. Instead of only looking at the HISTORY of what sold most recently you instead get Full Disclosure™ of the current state of the market, and can PICK which of the lots up for bids you want to bid on, or if you want to buy it outright for the "quick sale" price right then and there. The system is designed for TRANSPARENCY and giving the Players all the tools they need in order to make informed decisions.

With City of Heroes, it was extremely EASY to manipulate the available information for any given commodity, since there was so LITTLE of it. But in World of Warcraft, if you want to "corner the market" you literally have to take over the entire supply of any given commodity, because the information for every auction is publicly available.

There have been cases in World of Warcraft where a particular guild (or cartel) has functionally "cornered the market" in EVERY commodity worth buying and selling through the auction house, effectively being able to establish a monopoly over pricing ... but that has usually been a result of some pretty obsessively dedicated individuals who went all out to sustain their market supremacy on their server. So it's not impossible to do ... but it's a lot HARDER to do with a WoW styled auction house due to the greater transparency of information for EVERY item up for auction, rather than only being able to see what the last 5 transactions went for like City of Heroes did.

Between the two systems, I really HATED the auction house in City of Heroes and vastly prefer the one done in World of Warcraft.


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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

Hard price caps won't work, because people will just switch to barter outside the market.

I would need to see your evidence of this.

Sadly I can at least provide anecdotal evidence of this happening in CoH. As I'm sure you'll remember there was a maximum limit of 2 billion INF that any single character could hold at one time. This was effectively the ultimate hard trade limit. Despite that I recall a number of times where people would barter Hami-Os for upwards of 3 to 5 billion in the Hive after Hami raids. Obviously the parties involved would arrange to meet and jump through several character switches to be able to transfer the full asking price. I never actually went through any of these "multi-character" trade transactions myself but based on how often I saw global chats about it after Hami raids I can only assume this successfully happened at least on a semi-regular basis.

Obviously I'm not sure how much connection one could draw between what amounted to handful of extremely high-end Hami-O barter trades and the markets at large. But I have to suspect if CoT imposed hard trade caps that were relatively too low with respect to how much "liquid cash" was available in the economy these kinds of outside barter trades would become fairly commonplace. I'm not necessarily saying that I'm against the idea of hard trade caps completely, but I imagine they would have to be well monitored/tuned to be effective.

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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

Sadly I can at least provide anecdotal evidence of this happening in CoH. As I'm sure you'll remember there was a maximum limit of 2 billion INF that any single character could hold at one time. This was effectively the ultimate hard trade limit. Despite that I recall a number of times where people would barter Hami-Os for upwards of 3 to 5 billion in the Hive after Hami raids. Obviously the parties involved would arrange to meet and jump through several character switches to be able to transfer the full asking price. I never actually went through any of these "multi-character" trade transactions myself but based on how often I saw global chats about it after Hami raids I can only assume this successfully happened at least on a semi-regular basis.

I never saw this in any of the many times I did a Hami but that means little because I never stuck around for the inevitable trading and selling sessions that happen at the end of the raid.
I am a little confused though. Hami-O's lost value almost over night when the invention system was added to the game and went into the crapper when sets were released 6 months later. As you know the market was released at the same time as inventions. So I am confused as to when these 3-5 billion sales were happening? Before or after the release of the market?

I also find it surprising. I can't remember any invention item, not even the most desired items, ever selling for the inf cap on the market. The most I remember ever seeing an item sell for was 1.1 billion. But again that isn't proof of anything, I am not omnipotent so didn't see every transaction that took place.
I suspect that if there were any takers for these 3-5 billion Hami-O's it probably had more to do with the fact that Hami-O's were the only item of value for players to spend their growing wealth on.

Lothic wrote:

Obviously I'm not sure how much connection one could draw between what amounted to handful of extremely high-end Hami-O barter trades and the markets at large. But I have to suspect if CoT imposed hard trade caps that were relatively too low with respect to how much "liquid cash" was available in the economy these kinds of outside barter trades would become fairly commonplace. I'm not necessarily saying that I'm against the idea of hard trade caps completely, but I imagine they would have to be well monitored/tuned to be effective.

I agree that trade caps need to be carefully considered in order to work properly. But unless it is grossly mismanaged I doubt the majority of people will leave the relative simplicity of market transactions for the time consuming practice of direct sales.

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I remember in the last year

I remember in the last year of CoX there were PVP recipes that were selling at or near the cap. And that's not including the person-to-person (non-auction house) sales I had heard about.

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Radiac wrote:
Radiac wrote:

I remember in the last year of CoX there were PVP recipes that were selling at or near the cap. And that's not including the person-to-person (non-auction house) sales I had heard about.

I am tired of these 'I heard one time...' arguments. The only opposition response you can make is 'I didn't'.

So, I didn't.

But lets say I did.
First, you are talking about a 5 year gap between the introduction of the market and the time when things sold for the inf cap. Almost 3 since the PvP recipe introduction. This is in the hyperinflated broken game economy of CoH. It doesn't exactly scream of people deciding to skip the market for direct sales and doesn't come close to Lothic's example of 3-5 billion Hami sales.

Second, this is more an example of an improperly handled reward in the game than it is of market manipulation. The PvP recipes had an unpopular means of acquisition (PvP engagement) which created a situation of comparative extreme rarity vs other items. In lay terms, it was a reward for an activity few participated in so there wasn't enough earned to go around.

Lastly, any item that will give a player an advantage over another in PvP (even if it's only perceived to be an advantage) is going to be highly sought after regardless of it's availability. This creates an elevated demand for said item. It should be treated as an exception and not evidence of market trends.

But like I said, I didn't see these recipes being sold for more than 1.1 billion.

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At this point, I doubt even

At this point, I doubt even NCSoft could produce conclusive evidence of anything about the CoH markets. We remember what we remember.

Also, along those lines, the foul reputation that the market and its most gleeful manipulators acquired in CoH didn't happen overnight. For many of us, it was our first MMO, and our first MMO market, so we were inclined to give it a chance. The fact that by the end of the game so many people hated on the market so much in and of itself suggests that something...and probably many somethings...had gone horribly wrong.

As to whether "innocent" market manipulators might be caught up in a sweep for outright trolls, well, I deny that there can be such a thing as "innocent" market manipulation.

"Yeah, I really needed 10,000,000 luck charms for crafting for my alts." Sure ya did, buddy. A warning might be appropriate at dev discretion, but it makes the most sense to punish disruptive behavior, irrespective of alleged motivation. Ignorance of the law is no excuse in real life, after all.

More transparency seems like a good idea, for a number of reasons. Seller reputation and brand loyalty are important features of real, functioning markets after all. Unfortunately, I seem to recall some of the devs here having spoken out against the idea...

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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In other threads we discussed

In other threads we discussed options such as transmutation to turn multiple other items into one that's needed. That alone can make it very difficult to corner a market.

In addition accounts can be flagged for review if they buy too much of a single item, destroy it shortly after buying, sell shortly after buying, or some combination of these.

Basically I think marketeers have certain behaviours which can be programmatically detected and humanly reviewed. I suspect the MWM devs care enough to have some sort of plan.

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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:

Lothic wrote:
Sadly I can at least provide anecdotal evidence of this happening in CoH. As I'm sure you'll remember there was a maximum limit of 2 billion INF that any single character could hold at one time. This was effectively the ultimate hard trade limit. Despite that I recall a number of times where people would barter Hami-Os for upwards of 3 to 5 billion in the Hive after Hami raids. Obviously the parties involved would arrange to meet and jump through several character switches to be able to transfer the full asking price. I never actually went through any of these "multi-character" trade transactions myself but based on how often I saw global chats about it after Hami raids I can only assume this successfully happened at least on a semi-regular basis.
I never saw this in any of the many times I did a Hami but that means little because I never stuck around for the inevitable trading and selling sessions that happen at the end of the raid.
I am a little confused though. Hami-O's lost value almost over night when the invention system was added to the game and went into the crapper when sets were released 6 months later. As you know the market was released at the same time as inventions. So I am confused as to when these 3-5 billion sales were happening? Before or after the release of the market?
I also find it surprising. I can't remember any invention item, not even the most desired items, ever selling for the inf cap on the market. The most I remember ever seeing an item sell for was 1.1 billion. But again that isn't proof of anything, I am not omnipotent so didn't see every transaction that took place.
I suspect that if there were any takers for these 3-5 billion Hami-O's it probably had more to do with the fact that Hami-O's were the only item of value for players to spend their growing wealth on.

It happened both before and after the markets were established. Obviously the overall value of Hami-Os dropped quite a bit after the IO sets were released, but there were still a couple of rare ones that fit nicely into a couple of holes that the IO sets never quite adequately covered for several specific powers. Simply put there were instances that I recall pretty much thoughout the course of the entire game (I played in Hami raids both pre and post the major Issue 9 changes) where people were doing multi-billion INF barter trades that presumably required people to jockey around the de facto 2 billion INF cap.

Now once again how that translates into anything predictive for CoT is questionable at best. Who knows... maybe we'll have like a 10 billion INF cap per character so the likelihood of trading anything for more than 10 billion will become exceeding remote to begin with. Maybe other money sinks in the game will be successful enough that essentially no one will have spare billions to spend on anything regardless. TBH, I almost think it's way too early to speculate on most of this - the arguable "need" for hard caps might not even materialize in this game. *shrugs*

CoH player from April 25, 2004 to November 30, 2012

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Transmutation At A Loss™

Transmutation At A Loss™ would resolve a LOT of issues that can arise from out of whack Supply & Demand. Being able to "convert" commodities from worth-less to worth-more, even if that conversion comes at a "loss" of not being perfectly efficient, will help create the necessary Basket Of Commodities that results in a whole series of Checks And Balances against either runaway inflation and/or monopolistic market manipulation.

The question after that becomes ... at how much of a "loss" do these transmutations occur?

The most obvious transmutation that I'm sure we all remember from City of Heroes was for Inspirations. Transmute 3 identical types into any other 1 type ... so 3 in, 1 out. The loss ratio was therefore 3 to 1, meaning it cost you 3 you didn't want/need in order to make 1 you did want/need.

To be honest, for City of Titans, I'd want to start with an assumption of transmuting 4 identical into 1 desired for most commodities, rather than merely 3 into 1 ... and consider increasing that "loss ratio" for the more uncommon commodities. Note that such a "lossy" ratio of transmutation has the additional benefit of acting as a commodity/resource sink, since it basically throws away items that otherwise would have kept circulating within the game's economy.


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So, now the Devs have to:
CallmeBlue wrote:

Unfortunately, I seem to recall some of the devs here having spoken out against the idea...

So, now the Devs have to:

  • Help players deal with bugs.
  • Police offensive Names and Costumes.
  • Police offensive behavior.
  • Hunt and arrest Spam-bots and Gold-sellers.
  • Police the Market for offensive behavior.

    Oh, and

  • Actually develop more/better content for the game.

Be Well!
Fireheart

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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

So, now the Devs have to: Help players deal with bugs.
Police offensive Names and Costumes.
Police offensive behavior.
Hunt and arrest Spam-bots and Gold-sellers.
Police the Market for offensive behavior.
Oh, and
Actually develop more/better content for the game.

I'm not sure if you meant this sarcastically or not but the Devs/GM of this game were already going to have to do all of these things regardless.

CoH player from April 25, 2004 to November 30, 2012

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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

I'm not sure if you meant this sarcastically or not but the Devs/GM of this game were already going to have to do all of these things regardless.

Yeah, I realize they'll have to do those things. I was hoping we could figure out ways to reduce the load.

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It is unfortunate that such

It is unfortunate that such measures are necessary, but it would be even more unfortunate not to learn from the past. If there is one good thing about the demise of CoH, it's that some the game's weaknesses and limitations can be avoided or improved upon when starting anew.

That said, transmutation at a loss sounds like a good idea.

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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CallmeBlue wrote:
CallmeBlue wrote:

Also, along those lines, the foul reputation that the market and its most gleeful manipulators acquired in CoH didn't happen overnight. For many of us, it was our first MMO, and our first MMO market, so we were inclined to give it a chance. The fact that by the end of the game so many people hated on the market so much in and of itself suggests that something...and probably many somethings...had gone horribly wrong.

The prevailing opinion about the CoH market was that it was introduced late into an already inflated economy, had clumsy UI, used a poorly conceived blind bid system and most importantly did not have proper checks and balances to hinder the casual market manipulator.

CallmeBlue wrote:

As to whether "innocent" market manipulators might be caught up in a sweep for outright trolls, well, I deny that there can be such a thing as "innocent" market manipulation.

"Yeah, I really needed 10,000,000 luck charms for crafting for my alts." Sure ya did, buddy. A warning might be appropriate at dev discretion, but it makes the most sense to punish disruptive behavior, irrespective of alleged motivation. Ignorance of the law is no excuse in real life, after all.

I was playing an MMO and want 100 mats for some crafting I was going to do. I hit the market and went on auto-pilot just hitting the buy now button till I counted to 100. When I opened my inventory to double check that my count was right I was surprised to not find 100 mats, not 1000 mats but 10000 mats. Turns out I wasn't buy a single mat each click but a stack of 100. I turned around and sold 9900 of them back on the market. Because I bought so damn many I had driven up the price and was able to make a small profit when I sold them back.

Anyone remember the initial release of the wing recipes in CoH? I saw how crazy they were selling for when I went to sell one I had gotten as a drop while farm testing a bunch of characters I had just IO'd out. I continued to farm test about 10+ characters over a weeks period and in that time I got a substantial amount of wing recipe drops. I went to sell them only to find prices had dropped to a fraction of their original worth. Turns out the devs had the wrong drop rate for them and fixed it while I was collecting them, I should have known that I was getting far more than those outrageous prices would indicate probable. I ended throwing a bunch on the market all at once just to get rid of them, which caused the price to drop more.

I was feeling a bit cash poor when I noticed that a common item drop was selling for huge amounts. After a bit of investigation I figured out that it was because the item only dropped from low level mobs but it was a component of sought after recipes. I made a new character and over the course of a few weeks normal game play I had a buttload of them. Threw them on the market at a discount (wanted quick sales to free up more listing slots) and made a killing. The last few I sold made more than the first because of the blind bidding system.

I wanted the crafting and market badges on my badge character in CoH. I won't go into too much detail but after I looked into things I found I had to craft a bunch of specific recipes to get all the prerequisites and still had a bunch more of anything after that. I decided that the cheapest option was a temp power (think it was the slugger). So I spent the next few days buying up all the ingredients and recipes I could get my hands on, often depleting the market of some items. This in turn began raising the prices of those items. I remember being frustrated that before I had gotten the badges the costs for things had gone up more than triple in most cases. Worse yet, I found out later I could have done all the non-specific crafting with base crafting and saved a ton.

Well, I still had to get the market badges which require selling (not buying) 7000 items. Good thing I had a bunch of crap I just crafted. Before I could sell everything, even by under cutting the competition, the prices dropped because of the influx of my listings. But as luck would have it, the items I crafted were not nearly enough to get the badges so I started buying anything cheap and selling it for pennies on the dollar. Ended up driving those prices down so much that my listings were not being sold anymore so I moved on to more expensive items and the same thing happened to them. All in all I must have inadvertently messed with dozens of items on the market, manipulating them if you will.

These are specific cases where the game allowed me to be disruptive because I had so much cash due to a broken economy, poor market UI, awful bidding system, no limits on what I could sell or buy, ill devised rewards, and lures to mis-use the market. If a dev came after me for any of those, when they created the perfect storm for it to occur, I would probably never come back to the game.

But like I said, those are specific examples.
How about a player who just wants to buy low sell high?
Or one who decides to play crafting mogul?
Another who sees a gap in the market and decides to fill it?
Someone with a crapton of alts?
A guild leader who supplies his mates with rewards for service?
Someone who wants to give awesome prizes for his daily costume contest?

There are so many naive ways to manipulate the market. No automated alarm and GM intervention could be expected to sift through those who were innocent and those who were just pretending to be innocent without a proper set of checks and balances.
And these Gm's are not going to be the devs. They are going to be a paid customer service department, most likely a separate company hired to handle issues like these. These guys handle more than one game at a time. So I would prefer the game itself prevent the possibility of as many infractions occurring before it even reaches the desk of 'Dave from Denver' and his opportunity to enact corporal punishment.

Oh and in regards to 'ignorance of the law is no excuse'.
Check this out:
https://thinkprogress.org/supreme-court-says-ignorance-of-the-law-is-an-excuse-if-youre-a-cop-d8bdb99987f1/

But that is just a surprising case of rampant police state politics. So here is an actual evaluation of 'Ignorantia legis neminem excusat':
http://www.heritage.org/crime-and-justice/report/ignorance-the-law-no-excuse-it-reality
Summed up, ignorance IS an excuse if one cannot be reasonably expected to know they are committing a crime.

As long as we are talking about real life, how about 'Punishment is not a deterrent.' :
https://nij.gov/five-things/pages/deterrence.aspx
Long story short, punishment doesn't work.

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Brainbot wrote:
Brainbot wrote:

And these Gm's are not going to be the devs. They are going to be a paid customer service department, most likely a separate company hired to handle issues like these. These guys handle more than one game at a time. So I would prefer the game itself prevent the possibility of as many infractions occurring before it even reaches the desk of 'Dave from Denver' and his opportunity to enact corporal punishment.

Hopefully, we'll someday have the cash flow to pay for this paid customer service department. Until then, it is likely to be the devs, if anyone.

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There have been some good

There have been some good ideas in the thread for ways to prevent market manipulation or make it an undesirable option.

Scott Jackson brought up alternate methods of acquisition for almost any item similar to CoH's merit vendors.

Redlynne talked about the need for a more informative UI in the market.

Hero_Zero re-introduced the transmutation concept.

And I spoke about rarity based caps on listing prices.

While there is no reason to think the devs will use our ideas and even less reason to think if it was that it would be as we envision it, it does illustrate that a multi-layered defense would be best.

I know that probably goes without saying but just in case.

Brainbot
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Foradain wrote:
Foradain wrote:

Hopefully, we'll someday have the cash flow to pay for this paid customer service department. Until then, it is likely to be the devs, if anyone.

I really hope not. The dev crew is not nearly large enough to handle an MMO launch by themselves.
Honestly, if MWM developers choose to handle customer support themselves I would lose faith. Especially when there are companies like 5CA , which are willing to work with start-ups.

Dark Ether
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kickstarter
Joined: 10/03/2013 - 16:26
Just put an NPC there with a

Just put an NPC there with a huge shotgun, and if someone tries to buy too much of one thing then they shoot the person in the face, steal their goodies, and run off.... It's the subtle approach that makes it fun.

(insert pithy comment here)

Impulse King
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Joined: 10/05/2013 - 18:55
I always thought the market

I always thought the market was a fun activity. An easy win PvP if you will. Sure the path to getting the Power Seller badge was tedious and took non trivial amounts of time, but that was by design. This is normally where I mention I barely used even basic IOs and didn't really touch sets if it didn't drop on it's own. So for me the market was for selling (excluding the 2 toons that got Power Seller)

That said, I DID have a monopoly on an item for probably over a year. This was on redside Victory (So not such a high barrier) and the item was Essence of the Earth (EoE) inspirations. EoEs only protected against Hamidon damage and it was rare that anyone tried that raid. I did it for coalition political reasons and was perfectly willing to sell once I was asked politely. Time went by and I eventually got tired and released them onto the market.