Open Economy Examples
Game mechanics on the Expload platform
This document is a list of basic elements for building a game economy using the Expload platform.
Developers and players can be parties of a deal. These can include transactions between developer and player as well as between player and player.
Developer - Player
In this case the developer holds a monopoly for selling items and services, that either cannot be obtained in any other way at all or can be limited for player engagement. The developer is interested in gaining a currency from players, that they can withdraw, and in giving away the items, that don't require expenses for replication. This is a classic model embraced by many f2p games.
The developer has no interest in giving away their profits back to the players. Therefore, items trade is always a one-way process. Developers will not buy items for GT from players, so as not to reduce their own profits. The only exception may be marketing expenses inside the game itself, designed to increase player engagement into the game process, such as prize pools in tournaments or a reward for good retention.
Players can not compete with the developer’s monopoly, thus their capabilities in this system are limited and therefore their main motivation for buying is meeting their own gameplay needs. In this case, if a player wants to offer a service that competes with the developer they most probably will need to go beyond the game and even break the rules, set by the developer. For instance, selling gold for real money in World of Warcraft, etc.
Player - Player
This is a model whenall trading operations are held between players only, and the developer gains his commission from it. In this case both parties of the deal are on equal footing and this allows the player not only to spend the currency, but also to have means to acquire it.
This approach enables players to purchase items for their own needs, and also invest in buying items for building a financial model and make profits.
In this case players themselves are responsible for price regulation, as opposed to the previous case of planned economics.
Subject of transaction
A deal includes the transfer of ownership rights of:
- One or several items. Hereinafter “item” is a digital asset, independently of the form it takes in a game. It can be a sword, a tank, golden bullets, land ownership, production patent and the like.
- Currency: in-game currency, XGold and XPlatinum. It can be used for purchasing or selling items, as well as be a surcharge in trade-in.
Basic Use Cases
Hereinafter P1 and P2 are the first and the second players — two sides of the deal. Alternatively, a developer’s account may be one of the sides.
P1 pays P2 for transferring an item from P2 to P1. It is possible to trade directly between players as well as via trading platforms.
Auction introduces the mechanic of selling rare items in cases when demand by far exceeds supply. In this case players can compete for an item offering a bigger price.
This is a case of using on the marketplace a legal bot with preset instuctions. For instance, giving it 100GT and setting it to buy certain crafting resources if they cost lower than a certain price. Or to raise the stakes, but to a certain value.
P1 transfers one or several items to P2 while P2 transfers one or several items back to P1. In this case any player can add some amount of currency as a surcharge for the cost difference. This difference is determined by the players on their own.
P1 pays P2 to for the right to use a digital asset owned by P2 for a limited amount of time. The most common example of such asset can be a sword or a tank.
Examples of real-life economy
Item crafting requires a patent, and this limits the range of players who can craft it. Or anyone can craft but needs to pay a small commission to the patent owner. A patent may be owned by either one player or by several players in non-equal parts.
P1 receives a deposit from P2 on the security of an item that belongs to P1. If P1 does not pay P2 the loaned sum of money plus interest rate before the specified date, the item passes into possession of P2.
There can also be a credit for purchasing an item. The player receives the item immediately and starts using it, but pays for it later.
Credit history and rating
This is an accompanying mechanics to credits and other financial obligations. All the player’s deals in different games are stored in one place. The credit history allows to evaluate the player’s credibility and minimize the amount of instances when a player refuses to pay the credit and just leaves for another game.
This is the top of best players. They may apply for a spot in the rating.
P1 pays a small amount of money to P2. In return P2 undertakes to pay P1 a bigger amount of money if P1 encounters an unfavorable event, for instance item loss.
When an income is received, for example from selling a certain item, the majority of profit stays with a seller, while the lesser part goes proportionally to those who invited seller to the system, and further to the ones who invited the invitors. For instance, a clan can create some unique items. Clan members can sell these items, paying fees from each transaction to the clan’s treasury and to clan leaders.
Pension savings. Pension fund and business crediting with and without intermediaries
P1 regularly pays a small amount of money to P2. P2 undertakes to return the saved money in a considerable time with interest, at once or also in regular payments. Such relationships are profitable for developers as they increase retention.
Players can support a player or team with money. A Kickstarter mechanics is possible, when money is tied up first and transferred only if a certain limit of donations is exceeded. There is also room for Patreon mechanics, when you can support with a small amount, but every month, and not just once. Support can be either gratuitous or with obligations. For example, players finance a clan to go on a raid and receive a portion of the loot. Or players finance a crafter to create a unique item. After creating an item, all the supporters receive it and no more copies of this item appear in the game.
Work for a salary or by contract
P1 regularly receives a certain amount of money from P2 for completing various tasks. This can be either a one-time assignment (contract) or on a regular basis (salary). The deal can have additional conditions that determine the nature of the assignment. For example, presence in a game at a specific time or transfer of mined resources to the employer.
It is vital that it should be more profitable for players to transfer money via smart contract than directly - a case that renders the whole salary system unnecessary. The following solutions are possible:
- The developer does not have a share in salary transactions. In this case, a transaction via a smart contract will not be less profitable than a direct one. The developer still gets their revenue , when the employee decides to spend the salary.
- The smart contract is linked to game events, providing automatic verification of assignment terms fulfillment. This is handy for cases when there is no trust relationship between the employer and the employee. This way assignments can be made not necessarily for people who have been playing together for a long time, but for completely random players.
- An assignment can not be limited to extraction of a resource that can be mined and sold without a contract. The contract must be either a service (security, attack, logistics), or extraction of a resource that cannot be transferred in any other way.
Sponsors and developers can act as employers if they want to engage players in particular kinds of activities.
Another possible type of assignment is making design drawings. For example, a clan wants a unique clan mansion. It orders the design from a famous architect, then hires the builders.
XGold and game resources can be stolen. But XPlatinum and what’s purchased with it cannot, because they are the property of the player, not the developer. This is also an incentive to buy XPlatinum in order to keep one’s assets safe. As an option, the rarest and coolest stuff might be left unattached so it can change the owners via PvP.
Uber for players
Automated system of distribution of orders between players. For example, based on their location in a game world.
Coaching linked to game achievements
A player pays for coaching, but all or part of the amount of money goes to the coach only after the player achieves the desired goal, for instance getting in top-10 in Battle Royale.
Deals with the element of chance
Players or player teams pay an entrance fee. They participate in the tournament. The prize pool is distributed among the winners. Part of the pool goes to the developer. Or the admittance to the tournament can be free or for a small fee, and the main prize pool is provided by the sponsor.
The contents of lootboxes are determined in advance at the generation stage, providing a guarantee of a fixed number of top rewards in a fixed set of lootboxes.
For example, the developer brought 100 epic swords to the market. They put them in 10,000 loot boxes. And when all lootboxes are opened and bought, there will be exactly 100 swords in the game, not 98 or 104.
The same principle as in tournaments, but prizes are determined not by skill, but randomly.
Games tend to automate their commodity and money flows. Any item can be purchased on the spot or put on sale, irrespective of its location and the batch size. Items are stored in the player’s inventory and survive character death.
However, if game developers opt to omit this feature and emulate real-world transactions, there will be room for logistics. Items are physically represented in the game universe, they need to be stored and transported, while players have to wander through the game universe in search for stores and purchases.
This option is well-suited for a game without a common marketplace, but with private stores, where players can buy items wholesale to resell them to retail customers. This way, sellers are engaged in the game’s economy by renting premises in high-traffic locations and investing into promotion campaigns.
This particularly applies to convenience shops selling basic foodstuffs, being in regular demand with players. One can opt to open a kebab house at the edge of the world and reap their benefits in a competition-free environment.
Players who prefer buying wholesale, should be able to make purchases at wholesale stores. This feature could be beneficial for clans involved in commercial extraction of resources. Likewise, clans would benefit from wholeselling their goods, where trading routines consume enormous time and resources.
If a player fails to sell an item on their own, they can use a consignment shop to speed up the process. The shop charges a commission fee for its services.
Plants and Conveyors
Before taking its final shape, an item may undergo several production stages. In this case, for the sake of optimizing logistic flows, it could be worthwhile organizing a full production line in one place. This will create additional jobs and give a real production feel, unlike when crafting items through the interface, when players get instant output after merely loading resources and pressing a button.
Such mechanics already exist outside of the Expload platform. They can be found in farming games (harvest the wheat -> clean the grains -> feed the birds -> get an egg -> bake a cake) and survival crafts (chop down a tree -> process the timber -> make a wall -> repeat 20 times to build a house).
Robbery and Secure Storage
Player 1 can pay Player 2 for safe-keeping an item belonging to Player 1. Where the mechanics allow for permanent presence of items in the virtual world, they can be picked up by any player, unless duly looked after. Thus, securing an item may take special effort such as renting and safeguarding a storage space.
Achievement and Record Log
All players’ achievements can be recorded to a shared log, accessible for viewing. Record breakers and best players will be immortalized in the server history.
Users can seal their items. This option is meant for sponsors and advanced crafters.
Elections / Voting
A transparent and auditable voting system beyond control of game developers and bots.
One of the players could be empowered to change the ratios, specified in the smart contract. For instance, to allocate the necessary amounts of funds to science and research, healthcare or military needs.
Parties can enter into non-aggression treaties secured by substantial amounts of funds from each party. Should a party breach a treaty and attack the other party, the whole amount will be transferred to the party attacked.
Transparent treasury management within clans, when regular clan members have access to the clan’s financial flows. For details, see the mechanics described above.