Case Study: Pirate Coins
Recently, I posted an article referencing the issues of the current World of Magic Economy ("The Problems with The World of Magic: Money Money Money"). For those who didn't read it,
TL;DR: the economy needs to be fixed so that items are less easily manipulated and profitable. Because experienced players can influence the market to an absurd degree, new players lack accesibility.
I mentioned two popular items, ancient coins and pets, which have oscillated ridiculously in price over the past few years. However, I wanted to address one of the most stable items in the game: the complete opposite spectrum.
I am talking about pirate coins, used to craft sky castle keys and gain levels between level 11-14.
In this particular case study, I will be addressing why pirate coins have such high stability, who benefits from these interactions, and how this meager item is a microcosm for a successful game.
Your Guide to Get Millions: Kill Trillions of Pixels!
Pirate Coins. Guides love them. People love them. They are cheap and sell like wildfire.
Let's break the item down. From the most basic standpoint, the item is in high demand and has a very low barrier of entry to obtain a supply. All you have to do is be a few levels higher than 13 and start killing mobs of woopas, and because of its high drop rate, you will have hundreds.
Guides love them because they are consistent. No matter what event is happening, there is a consistent revenue that can be calculated as a base to understand how much (at the very least) one can make in a certain time frame. I myself, have noticed that despite the various drops a woopa has, pirate coins are the easiest to sell on the Black Trader, and the majority of the money I make from farming woopas comes from these coins.
So it's simple. They are easy to obtain due to high drop rates and low level requisites. Look at every guide, and it's obvious that this is a profitable method. All the items can be cycled efficiently ( coins on bt, coral to the secret vendor, scales to Radin .... so on and so forth). Bam. Every day you can do this for a set amount of time and make thousands.
Yet a lot of these guides are missing the most pivotal reason for why these items, specifically the pirate coin, are so marketable. Demand. Who is the target? Who is the buyer?
Well, if you can't answer this question, you can stop reading now. Unfortunately you lack a functional brain. Don't waste your time.
Players between lvl 11-14, and those who want to create castle keys. I have rarely seen any player in the sky castle, so I am assuming that the majority of buyers are between lvl 11-14. The new players. The ones who maybe played a few hours and are completely hooked.
Maybe they are new to MMORPG, or they expect experience and quests like other online games. Maybe they misunderstand what particular items do or certain interactions. In all these circumstances, 9 times out of 10, a new player will meet that lovely npc after getting slaughtered by woopas, and buy pirate coins off the Black Trader to complete a quest. Yipee. To be honest, when I first completed that quest, I didn't even notice my xp bar changed. It took me 2-3 stacks until I realized that I was leveling at a somewhat accelerated rate. I'd speculate that the majority of players have had this experience in one way or another, when they first started playing the game. So in many ways, the new players hooked with the game directly create the demand on the market.
Now you can argue that my previous statement is false. However, there is no way that the price of pirate coins has stayed the same since the game began without the demand of new players. It has always been at an intrinsic value of around 2000 with the demand oscillating it +- 400. No matter what server you enter, or what era you join, the price will always be the same. That, my friends, is incredible.
So new players are the source. Whether they are some no-life who is power-leveling a second account, or an experienced mmorpg player expecting some kind of quest, they will undoubtedly maintain this cycle.
Interesting. The new player base is being used to profit an existing player base. Of course, this can be attached to any experienced player merchanting items, but this is a direct correlation. In many ways, I feel kind of guilty. Because there is no way in hell 2000 is worth 1-2% of experience at that level. Should have kept your money nub.
Yet clearly, I am a minority. Everyone is saying the same thing: kill the woopas, abuse the new player base. It's a new revolutionary discovery every time. " The secret to making money" ..." A Ranger's Guide to Getting Rich <3 XD". Not a single person has the capacity to understand that in reality, its " Abuse a Newbies Ignorance XD."
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe there is more to it then just the new player base creating the demand. But I have to say, if I had a few thousand and blew it all on pirate coins when I first started playing, I probably would have quit right then and there, because it feels awful to get absolutely nothing and blow everything I had gained.
Ironic. The second functional quest a new player probably attempts is probably one of the most influential reasons for them quitting them game. Because it's not really rewarding and somewhat misleading. Yet despite that, it maintains the economy.
Holy shit! Maybe, just maybe, if there are quests, the economy would stabilize. What a shocker. That's a "secret guide and revolutionary XD." Go figure.
The Short Stick
Pirate coins have stayed the same because of their demand. Farming woopas is profitable because its drop rates are high and its items are marketable.
Let's just imagine there is a new player. Eh, let's call him Little Jimmy. He's eagerly playing for several hours and finishes parts of the Lighthouse quest before he's presented with the Beach. Then he exclaims, "Wow I love the Beach," as he is enveloped with pleasant music and a gentle caress of the shore.
He's taking a few steps into the environment. Perhaps he kills a crab or two. Then he sees this funny looking monstrosity. Walking closer so he can attack it, it starts chasing him vehemently. Then many begin to group together. Panic. Adrenaline. He's running for his dear life. But it's no use. He's slaughtered mercilessly.
Lo and behold, he respawns in the middle of the beach next to a strange looking NPC. "Bring me pirate coins." There isn't any ambiguity. He runs to the Black trader and with his few thousand, buys as many stacks as he can.
Is this illustration that far off from the new player experience? Take an honest moment of introspection and try to relate to my dear little jimmy, because fuck all, I've been there too.
At every profitable mean, there is an end. For this particular game, the act of farming has a reciprocal effect. Make one group happy and another one sad. The experienced players who want cool gear benefit while the new players get boned. It seems that having both groups happy is impossible and mutually exclusive.
Or is it? It has occured to me that even though I am reiterating points from my previous article, people lose motivation from reading it in its entirety because of its length. I'll leave this idea up in the air for discussion, because I feel as though I am reaching the mental threshold of the majority of people in this community.