Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Daily Quests: The Federal Reserve Rate for WoW?

I have long complained that Blizzard was selling itself short by not hiring economists to better model their virtual economy. A lot of design decisions the company has made encouraged gold farming and other undesirable behavior. I was therefore pleasantly surprised with the introduction of daily quests which actually attacked the causes of gold farming instead of just dealing with the symptoms. While some people complained about the immersion of quests that you repeat each day, most people actually enjoyed them compared to straight up grinding mobs for cash. Also the revamp of the potion system served as a corresponding feature and pretty much freed most of the hardcore raiders from the clutches of IGE.

Patch 2.4 continues the trend of Blizzard starting to influence player behavior through economics instead of technologic controls that just piss off their customers. They have increased the daily quest limit to twenty-five and the Sunwell is filled with easy quests that take about ten minutes and reward 11gp. As a result the demand for buying gold has really gone down though inflation is starting to sneak into the game. Still inflation only affects player controlled items while NPC items like mounts remain unaffected. Many believe this is a last ditch attempt to make sure everyone has the chance to get an epic mount before the expansion. We already know it’s a temporary measure since the Sunwell daily quests are expected to disappear once phase 4 is complete.

So with the raising and expected lowering of the daily quest limit I can't help but see parallels to the nominal interest rate controlled by the Federal Reserve. The higher the number of daily quests the less players are interested in buying gold and the less money the farmers make. In this analogy the farmers would be the banks which seems accurate since farmers have often been accused of selling back players their own gold. Still Blizzard can't simply always make gold easy to earn or else inflation becomes too much of issue and demand for player controlled items start to cause an incentive to buy gold. This of course defeats the purpose of having daily quests in the first place.

As a result we can probably expect this over abundance of daily quests to be a short term trend developed especially for the transition between patch 2.4 and the expansion. Not to say we'll never see another event like it but it will be a long time before it comes again. The expansion will be filled with lots of regular quests and they'll be less of a need for daily quests until people start hitting max level again. Still it’s interesting to see Blizzard experimenting with methods to inject currency into the economy instead of just trying to suck it out with ridiculous mount costs. It hints that maybe they're taking a page from EVE Online and have started to develop plans for fixing scarcity and demand in their own virtual world.

6 comments:

Alex said...

I'm wondering where you got your information regarding the daily limit being lowered after Phase 4? From everything I've read it seems as though the dailies would continue albeit with different names, much as they did after the completion of the other phases. Is this as a result of experience on the PTR or just your own hunch?

Relmstein said...

I would be surprised if all the dailies for the Sunwell were left in the game. I thought I heard they were being discontinued after phase 4 in the Blizzard podcast. This might have been changed though since at the time of the podcast 2.4 wasn't even on test yet.

In the end I just don't see Blizzard keeping the gold levels that high unless they are just going to run with the inflation and scale up the rate of earning gold in the expansion.

Grimme said...

Relmstein,

I've listened to the two blizzcasts a number of times now and I do not believe they stated that the quests would be removed. Nor have I heard or read anywhere that they are considering lowering Daily quest limit after phase 4.

That being said, however, I think you make some valid points about the daily quests being used as a method of controlling the in game economy.

I would like to point out however, that with the coming expansion, players will be able to buy new hairstyles, new dances and god knows what else Blizzard has up their sleeve in terms of gold sinks. The Shattered Sun title for example is an excellent ( albiet one time only ) idea for a gold sink.

I do not believe they will remove the quests but instead create new ways for players to spend gold and therefore control the economy through those means.

Lastly, its funny this article went up today. I am writing one myself describing what I believe is the best pattern to get all of these quests done within a three hour period ( including the Ogrila Shelf dailies ) and that has got me to thinking about how this influx of gold is going to effect the twink market.

Chris said...

@grimme: I have recently hit exalted with Shattered Sun and started wondering which, of all the dailies now available, I should focus on to maximize reward:time ratio. So, I would be very interested to read your conclusion. For example, the multi-phase survey quest is a shoe-in for me.

@Relmstein: A timely post also - I recently came back to WoW after an 8-month break when 2.4 was released and my jaw dropped at how easily I could collect gold from quests. I've quickly been buying up every special gem, enchant, epic BoE etc. that I ever wanted, because I expect people will soon realize they can charge much more for items than they are now. Time will tell I guess. I also remember how BC changed the rules of what "a lot" of gold meant, so perhaps my banked 5k won't feel like so much when WotLK appears.

Relmstein said...

Oh, send me a link when you get that write up on the most efficient way to do all the dailies. I have a friend who's bankrupted himself getting the T3 blacksmith weapon and now needs to pay me back.

I could be mistaken on my impression that the number of dailies could be lowered. In fact if the "barbershop" feature being added to the game really becomes popular then it would be the perfect method of offsetting inflantion. I know I would pay a lot of gp to give my characters mohawks. :-)

Noah said...

From what I remember, the gold from the dailies is not a set reward; instead, it's experience that is being converted into gold because players are at their maximum level.

That's the reason why dailies are restricted to level 70 areas: Ogri'la, Quel'danas, Skettis, and Netherwing. So, once the level cap is lifted, wouldn't these quests just give the nominal 1 to 2 gold and maybe some experience? I assume by level 71, all the dailies will become gray, so by the time people hit 80, there shouldn't be any experience, and hence no gold to be made off of the current dailies.

That might suck for people leveling up the first time through since they wouldn't have any gold mining dailies, but I imagine it'll become pretty standard for level 68 characters to skip the last of Outland and head straight to Northrend, where the quest rewards would make up for the lack of dailies.

I think, actually, that there will be a lot of dailies in Northrend, but they'll end up kinda like the new Halaa and Spirit Tower dailies, or like the old Honor Hold/Thrallmar dailies that reward mostly rep or honor instead of gold. Blizzard seems to have really emphasized rep grinding through the use of dailies instead of mob grinding or instance runs. But we'll see.