Friday, February 20, 2009

Excess credit crisis of Ultima Online

While the world grapples with the credit crisis, we have our own albeit opposite version of credit crisis in Sosaria too. Unlike in the real world, there is too much credit (gold) in the game, and nothing to spend it on. If you are a veteran player then chances are you are swimming in gold. These days it seems like every other person has at least a few hundred million gold coins. One of the consequences of this is the ridiculous amount of gold we pay for token rewards like event items. For example, the greeting sashes given out by EM's are fetching upwards of 30M gold.

What people tend to forget is that this is not because these items are "UBER RARE" or useful. On the contrary, they are mere tokens and it really does not hurt anyone's game play. What it is reflective of is the crippled state of the economy in Sosaria and the sheer lack of confidence its citizens have in the value of gold. People are willing to pay whatever amount of gold for such items because inflation in Sosaria, although not quite as bad as in Zimbabwe, is ridiculously high.

At this point you might be scratching your head. Inflation.. high? This is actually not really correct because most of the "neccessary" items have been falling in prices or staying stable. The reason for this is that developers have thankfully turned up the supply side (higher Doom artifact drop etc.) So, inflation on most items is not particularly high as they are fairly easy to grab a hold of. However, this creates a lot of pressure on gold as gold supply has stayed unabated. All of these factors creates an excessive gold surplus situation where as soon as you have something that is markedly limited in supply (for example, event items) everyone is willing to go in a bidding frenzy as they FINALLY HAVE A CHANCE TO SPEND THEIR GOLD. It is in many ways the same situation that we had in the years leading up to the credit crisis. We have a lack of investment opportunities and everyone's money is chasing a limited few (high end PvP items, event items, real estate). For example, my neighbor is demanding 300M gold for his 18x18 house on a trammel island.

Notwithstanding the current hoopla over the event items, which quite frankly are far weaker than the ones in the past, the need of the hour is for someone to take a long hard look at the gold situation in Sosaria. We need creative gold sinks, we need to relook at the npc vendor prices which have been frozen for years, and we need to further control the gold farmers.

Unless that happens, you cannot blame players for paying very high amount of gold for mere tokens like sashes. It is easy and trendy to fall for cliche terms like "greed" but that is only ignoring the systematic failure of the economy that has been allowed to take place over the years.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just in: Atlantic still has a soul!

I was pleasantly shocked to see everyone lining up and behaving so well for hours on my home shard,