EA Land and Mudflation in Virtual Economies

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by yoyo, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. yoyo

    yoyo Active Member

    Hello, I know this might be quite a read but if you were wondering what happened to the economy when the The sims online became EA Land, then read on to find out how misguided economic effects can have massive consequences for unsuspecting players.

    When TSO came out, sims were spread out into various cities across SimNation. After they changed the name from TSO to Ea Land, they decided to merge all the cities into one massive city. With that, the new devs responsible for EA Land has no idea what it was going to do the economy. Of course at this point, the economy in TSO was already becoming bloated and stagnant, as more and more sims began to accumliate massive amounts of money either through bots or just plain excessive farming and grinding, everything began to lose it's value and started a cycle of mudflation. Mudflation is a MMO term used to describe the unique type of inflation found in virtual economies.

    In a video game economy there are 'sinks,' and 'drains.' Sinks are things that reward players with money. Like completing a quest, selling items, or making pizza with other sims. Then the 'drains' are things that make players spend money. Like buying upgrades, new items, new services etc. The main problem is that in the long run, players tend to use sinks, save up their money, and rarely spend it as fast as they are earning it. Soon, massive amounts of money enter the economy making everything devalued and overpriced.

    In EA Land, the development team slowly realized that the economy was growing faster than it could keep up. Sims were accumulating millions of dollars on their accounts and not spending it. The devs promised dynamic payouts to deal with the situtation but it was never implemented. They attempted to curb the inflation by manually adjusting pricing for all objects. This only resulted in ridicously expensive items, making any major home improvement work a massive grind. Fence pieces were being priced at $8000 and Cat litter boxes were priced at around $160,000.

    The dev team kept promising to fix the economy but everything they tried only made the problem worse. They began to cut the visitor lot bonuses, which only made many property owners feel that they lost a big incentive in running their lots and using money to attend to sims needs. Then they tried altering the payouts manually with the intenion of weakening the more popular and higher paying forms of making money. Instead they just made all the payouts crummy and just had everyone gravitate towards another money object instead. It was so bad that sims with level 20 cooking skills were only making a paltry $4 per jam at times.

    They also removed casino objects, added severe overwork penalties to job objects and increased the skill degradation. In the end, they were all misguided attempts at applying short fixes to a system that was fundamentally broken. This in turn ruined the game for many people. For new players, the game became punishingly difficult since everything became super expensive and making money became even more difficult, it was not a very welcoming experience to the world of playing the sims online. The game soon just became a grindfest of players constantly working the same money object and studying the same skills all day. The terrible economy made it very difficult to host fun events, parties, or do something that didn't have to do with skilling or money.

    I think one big thing that would have helped would have been dynamic payouts. It would helped to make sure that everyone isn't getting rich by using one certain job object by making adjusting payouts for job objects so people would be forced to try different objects over time if they wanted to keep making money. Another good idea was a dynamic tax rate on catalog items. This would help drain some excess money in the game. also, store owners could buy objects tax-free, and sell them back at below tax rates, which is a win win for both customers and store owners. Also custom content will be very important in keeping the economy in check and give people a reason to spend more of their money.

    Many say that mudflation is invetiable and only preventative mesasure can be applied to it. But in my research I may have found one online game that has managed to create a system where their economy has enjoyed long-term stability. Alter Aeon is an MMO that has a detailed solution that can be read here. But i will go over the basiscs of it.
    A big part of managing a virtual economy is data tracking, Alter Aeon keeps tabs on economy data in the following ways:
    • Tracking for all gold sources and sinks
    • Real-time/live gold statistics
    • Logging for unexpected or 'dangerous' gold changes
    • Large gold changes, even valid transactions, trigger sanity check warnings
    • A single global value representing all gold in circulation
    • All sources and sinks should be tracked.
    • Autocalculate all or nearly all gold creation.
    • Adjust specific types of gold drop based on usage.
    • Limit gold hoarding. Inflation is one way to do this, taxes are another.
    • Use global controllers with feedback for long term stability.
    Results seem good, considering that their in-game economy has not fluctuated more than %10 in a 2 year period. Now, I am not saying that PD would have to implement everything here, but I think it would be important to consider a system to keep the game economy working in the long run and avoid what basically happened to EA Land when it died.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015
  2. mallhew

    mallhew Member

    In an ideal game there would be a way to link skill use to the quantity of different items in the economy.
    pisarz1958 and yoyo like this.

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