Dev Diary: Rethinking Gold as a Currency

Brilliant stuff. I definitely enjoy the lack of gold, and your post lays out why. This was very smartly thought out, and I salute you for it. The removal of so much useless cruft -- buying potions, repairing armor -- not only removes gold sinks, but time sinks as well, along with the annoyance of being in a bad position because you forgot to do maintenance. Having currency be valued for its own sake totally does change the feel of the game, even though scraps of wisdom are like tiny gold bits. But everything else just feels like raw potential I could use immediately, or swap for some other orbs in any number of different ways, and that's delightful.

Kudos to you on the currency system.
Genius! This is brilliant!
Last edited by crishark on Jan 29, 2013, 7:48:37 PM
I like this system quite a bit. The tidbits and the orbs are worth their weight in gold.
I do not like this goldless system at all. It adds a LOT of complication to the game in trying to consider value. I don't want to play a game because its complicated, I want to play because it has good flow. Right now I have to waste my time trying to keep straight all the items 'that aren't gold but act like it' with the vendors.

Would be easy to solve this.

make it so you get gold by selling stuff to the vendors. Then, make gold not tradeable. Then make items purchased with gold not tradeable.

gold seller issues solved, calculating drop value make 10x easier, clutter gone, complexity for the sake of defeating gold sellers gone.

I like this game. I like the graphics. I like the overall feel. I very much want to root for this game to succeed. Ive played 10k hours of D2 (among other games) and this feels like what D3 should have been. I just really really wish they could have gold in the game to reduce the complexity of buying and selling to the vendors.
Well there will never be gold in PoE, so get over that way of thinking...This Diary is 2 years old....You will get use to the system and grow to love it...Both of the 2 guys who dont like it, Demon and Wilder, have only been around for a week...When I first started playing I was confused with all the currency also...But once I started building it up and realized all the different things I could do with it and trade items for it and how to make the orbs from items that drop, you grow to really enjoy it...Gold has been around in games for so long and its about time someone came up with something different....PoE will succeed, it has been in closed beta for a long time and most of the plays were here from the start...I started playing last July if i remember and I am still here....Its a hard system to adjust to, but a great system once you get the hang of it..Give it time, dont go wasting your Orbs right when u get them in the beginning. Plenty of good items drop in the lower levels.
While having a trade system that doesn't use gold is all fine and dandy,You should probably have implemented something that shows the actual value of the item...For instance When a player just starts,Say they find a Chaos orb or something like that how are they to know it's good? or what it's worth, they don't i actually sold my first one to Nessa because i had no idea what it was for or what it was worth. what if there was a rarity system? Say a scroll of wisdom has a rarity of 5 and a chaos orb a rarity of 50? that way NEW players would know what a chaos orb is worth in equal trade to wisdom scrolls? it's great that you have just said go crazy and just trade what you want to trade based on what you need...But early on we don't need any thing except wisdom scrolls and maybe the odd transfusion orb >_> just saying. that a value system would be great.

TLDR: ADD A WAY TO MAKE NOOBS KNOW WHAT'S WORTH WHAT.
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182wilder wrote:
I think this system sux. With gold u can buy anything if u can afford. This complicates trade too much and rather gives those orbs trash value. What if my shiny wand turns into crap if i use one of those orbs on it? There's so many of them that they will use half of my bagpack forcing me running back to town everytime my bags are full. When it comes to me, I gues I'll end up with no trade at all because I get sick when I think of this system. I rather grind hoping to loot useful items in this century, and flush crap items that may be useful to others. I don't want to spamm whole day: "WTB orb X" just to buy an item. U say u looked at other games economic and currency system. Did u check one in WoW? Why not develope sth that works? U say its rewarding to find rare orb? No its not. What if I grind billions of hours more than any other player and I dont drop this rare crap orb?



While I think that 182wilder's post seems pretty reactionary, I feel that a valid point here is the potential flooding of the trade chat, or even general chat, with requests to trade a specific weapon, orbs, etc. This concern couples with the temporary nature of chat-based trades, in that an item is only listed on the screen for a brief moment before it disappears - limiting the trade process to those people monitoring their chat channels rigorously.

I think that the no-gold nature of POE's economy is an excellent development, and I hope that the developers continue to pursue their unique format - but I also hope that they counteract the issues mentioned above with a stable Auction House style system that allows consistant long term trading.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Ok, several things:

The points you bring up of successful pseudo-currencies also apply, even moreso, to fiat currency. I don't see why one could choose a commodity based currency rather than a fiat currency based on those four points.

Of the four points you bring up as points for an item currency over fiat currency, only one is valid - the first. I do fully agree that the "orb sink" of PoE is a much more exciting sink than a repair "gold sink". However, I find the following three points lacking.

- Gold Farmers: I do not see why gold farmers would find it any harder to farm orbs than gold. After all, why would they need to know how each person values each type of orb when all they care about is converting orbs to money? It's a simple matter of setting a real money price for each orb, then adjusting that price until you have an equal balance of inflows with outflows. Nothing else about the game needs to be known for orbs to be farmed for monetary gain. And remember, gold farmers work for a corporation, meaning that the variance due to low orb drop rates will not worry them that much.

- Weath Determination: I don't agree that adding variance to wealth gain is necessary to this genre of games, for one simple reason - there is already a reason to get excited: equipment drops. Especially with PoE's excellent crafting system, where there are many types of "excitable" item drops - good stats on a rare, or good sockets on a normal, or a good magic to be regalled - the list goes on and on. Currency drops, however, don't add too much beyond the intial rush of "holy crap an exalt" - they are soon thrown in the bank, and forgotten. Nevertheless, the frustration of lady luck is still always present. Thus, I think that adding an extra source of variance will not add to the excitement as much as adding to frustration - in stark contrast to my bit about gold farmers, players are individuals, thus the variance of orb drops will affect them greatly. For instance, I've been playing with one of my friends, and during our levelling adventures we've gotten plenty of excitment when good items drop; however, I've gotten 2 regals, a GCP, a Divine, and an Exalted, while he has jack all. Needless to say, he's pretty pissed.

- Trade Parity: I think this is my strongest objection against this system. I don't think people lauding the orbs system for breaking parity and thus making trade more "organic" understand what causes trade parity - I don't think it is the orb system, but rather the lack of infrastructure to facilitate trades, which is the key for breaking trade parity. Here's why:

I'm sure that you would understand the concept of opportunity cost and arbitrage, so I won't go into detail here, but I'll illustrate with an example. If I (player 1) want item A, and I have item B, I would be obviously wanting to find someone with item A who wants B. I find such a person (player 2) who has A and wants either B or C, however someone else (player 3) is willing to buy item B for item C + D, I can set up a trade with my inventory B -> C+D -> A+D for a net gain of D over direct trading.

If we take this concept further, and allow many such transactions to take place, pretty soon an established value of each item in relation to another will be set up. This is because the previous situation mentioned is not beneficial to all parties involved (not "in the core", if you want to use jargon). Astute readers will have noticed that there is no reason for player 3 to participate in the trade as it is set up - she can easily trade C for A, then A for B, netting herself a free D. In fact, if there are many transactions taking place over a well-established trading infrastructure, this is easily noticable to player C by either looking at current trades or historic data (i.e. ctrl+f on the trade forums). Thus, she will adjust his conceptions of what to trade her C for; similar actions will be taken by players 1 and 2. If many players, trading with many different items in various combinations, all have access to a conveniant and liquid trading infrastructure, it would not be hard to see how, through this mechanism of comparison and adjustment, eventually a set of agreed values (the values at which no such pairs of trades in the example above can take place) will be set up for items in relation with each other. Thus, trade parity will have been reached, even if we stay purely within a barter economy with item currencies, denominated in relative values rather than in money terms.

This theoryrafting is a bit confusing, and I'm not sure if I've explained it well enough, so I'll offer a TL;DR: in essence, if we allow many transactions to take place we will reach parity, albeit with "xx gold, yy silver and zz copper" values being replaced by "xx exalt, yy divine and zz GCP" values.

So why haven't we yet? Well, my point is that what is keeping trade out of parity is not the actual use of orbs over coins, but rather the lack of support being given by GGG for a liquid and convenient trading infrastructure (a semi-global trade chat + forums vs that and more, like auction houses, in other MMO-type games) - because the system is more inconveniant to use for players, it will restrict the number and types of transactions which can be made during given time.

The way previous example was set up, the crucial mechanic which allowed us to reach parity was the number and types of transactions which can be found and can take place - without the third person wanting B for D + C, and the person accepting D for A, the player would have traded A for B, whereas someone else could have traded A for D + C, giving a different "value" for A. The interactions of every player with each other in a common forum is what allows parity to be reached. This is currently not the case, as the trade forums are pretty inconveniant to use, and there are limited numbers of people in each trade channel at each time. However, if GGG decide to streamline the trading process by adding features to conveniance trading, such as an improved trading forum or (god forbid) and auction house, then people are able to make such liasons, and pretty soon we will be trading items at equilibrium values, just like in other MMOs, except we will be calling gold "exalts", silver "divines" and coppers "GCPs".

Thus, while this system seems dynamic and interesting, at its core it is not due to people cleverly using items or different subjective values - it is because people are unable to find a better alternative - this system (or rather, lack of system) creates a pseudo-dynamic feel via restrictions, rather than creativity. What GGG mentions in the pamphlet as "people feeling ripped off" in a fiat economy will also occur in a barter economy - but it is the system which allows such rip-offs to actually happen. If you're not trading at an equilibrium price, and one side of the trade got a good deal, then the other side got a bad one - and as soon as people read the trading forums, they'll find out. I managed to sell Slitherpinch for 2 GCP and a chaos to some poor bloke, and even if he were happy to have it at that price, he could have had it for half that price if he took 5 mins to search the trading forums. The only way he would not feel "ripped off" is if he didn't use the trading forum, or any other tool which conveniances trading. Furthermore, the price fluctuations mentioned as due to new "interesting applications" being found for items happen just as easily in a fiat currency economy as in an item currency economy - it is not because the barter system allows such innovations to occur.

What's the take-home message from this? Well, it is my opinion that the only thing keeping the bartering system out of equilibrium isn't the fact that it is a barter system - it is due to the lack of support given to allowing trades to take place often and widely. Thus we can see GGG as being on the horns of a dilemma - to listen to the feedback and increase the conveniance (and hence volume and variety) of trade with added features, hence allowing prices to reach equilibrium and thus removing a major selling point of the barter economy, or to continue the lack of support for a liquid trading economy and maintain the feel of a wild west frontier.

Now, as you've probably gathered already, I don't really like the bartering system that much. However, I do understand that it does add a certain degree of fun (using my negotiation skills to sell something at an inflated price, eating into some of buyer's marginal surplus), and that adding gold into the game will never happen. I'm fine with this - it won't stop me from buying some shinies from the microtransactions shop as soon as I leave China; but I just would like to point out that this system comes at a cost - namely, the convenience of both buyer and seller, and that this cost is an immutable trade-off - if GGG provides the market with more convenience, then prices will tend toward parity. Whether the trade-off is worth it is up to the players to decide.

Just as an aside, an important point to note is that most of the games which do have fiat currencies do not restrict bartering in any way (WoW comes to mind, with a global, spam-ridden trade chat), yet people choose to use the fiat currency and the auction house instead of bartering, because they think that the conveniance and liquidity offered by gold is more worth the uncertainty offered by bartering. Make of this what you will.

P.S. 3am here, no time to spellcheck or to make myself any more articulate. Apologies in advance. Also, maybe someone else can think about if this barter system benefits buyers or sellers asymmetrically; I'm off to bed.
Last edited by ianuus on Feb 11, 2013, 10:03:46 AM
I think this economic system is great! Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

There will always be those who want to be spoon fed all the answers, and to be able to work the economy at predetermined predictable rates for their own advantage (or lack of knowledge). But I love how this system lets people decide what they are willing to trade for. I disagree that we will see any kind of set rates for things as the previous poster mentioned. Why? Everyone will need different items depending on their play style or current character progression. Some players are very generous, while others are incapable of truly understanding values in a system this complex.

Bottom line is you trade for what you think is a good deal. That's how it should be.

Sure it's somewhat complicated, but I have been waiting for a game like this for so long! A game that does not compromise or "dumb it down" just for the sake of selling out. Which of course you are not doing because this game is free!

Keep doing it your way, this is the most innovative game I have seen in terms of economy and game play mechanics. I really love what you are doing and as a new aspiring game programmer working on very small solo projects with the help of a few friends I am stunned how amazing this game is.

And there is really no way to tell if some of these people complaining about no gold actually have the intention to BOT and sell gold online like in Diablo 3. I am sure they would love it for you guys to add gold, as the Diablo 3 population will continue to decrease as more people discover how much better this game is!

Just keep on doing what you're doing and never second guess yourselves. I consider this game design genius, and I love having to think about all these complex details that some others may complain about. The world has been waiting for a "smart" game like this. To many dumb games every where I look.
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Wookiezim wrote:
I think this economic system is great! Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

There will always be those who want to be spoon fed all the answers, and to be able to work the economy at predetermined predictable rates for their own advantage (or lack of knowledge). But I love how this system lets people decide what they are willing to trade for. I disagree that we will see any kind of set rates for things as the previous poster mentioned. Why? Everyone will need different items depending on their play style or current character progression. Some players are very generous, while others are incapable of truly understanding values in a system this complex.

Bottom line is you trade for what you think is a good deal. That's how it should be.

Sure it's somewhat complicated, but I have been waiting for a game like this for so long! A game that does not compromise or "dumb it down" just for the sake of selling out. Which of course you are not doing because this game is free!

Keep doing it your way, this is the most innovative game I have seen in terms of economy and game play mechanics. I really love what you are doing and as a new aspiring game programmer working on very small solo projects with the help of a few friends I am stunned how amazing this game is.

And there is really no way to tell if some of these people complaining about no gold actually have the intention to BOT and sell gold online like in Diablo 3. I am sure they would love it for you guys to add gold, as the Diablo 3 population will continue to decrease as more people discover how much better this game is!

Just keep on doing what you're doing and never second guess yourselves. I consider this game design genius, and I love having to think about all these complex details that some others may complain about. The world has been waiting for a "smart" game like this. To many dumb games every where I look.


Erm, I don't think you actually read or understood my post. Please don't misrepresent what I have written without knowing what I'm talking about.

Also, I find your concept of "innovation" somewhat laughable. This game is a chimera, cobbling together bits and pieces from various (A)RPGs to make a interesting game with depth. It's a good system, sure, but credit to where it's due, eh?

And about implying that pro-monetary people are botters - you seem to be a veteran gamer, so I'm sure this line will be familliar to you: "I've had enough of your disingenous assertions" *punch*

And to GGG - don't listen to him telling you never to second guess yourselves. It's exactly what Grima Wormtongue said to Theoden even as he poured poison into his ear. Sometimes the words of Gandalf, no matter how Stormcrow, is all the more valuable.

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