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The Case against a Trade Economy

I want to discuss the prospect of never adding Trade to LE here. First off, a little about me:
I normally love Trade, have played all major ARPGs with and without Trade for decades, and usually find it to add more excitement to loot-hunting.

After playing through Monolith progression for a good while now, I must say though that I think Trade would probably cause more issues than it would solve in the current iteration of LE’s itemization/crafting balance.

Loot feels in a very good spot right now, with the help of crafting functional gear is fairly easy to reach, and the hunt for Exalted drops is incredibly motivating and, in my opinion, satisfying.

Now early on the prospect of a bid-only Marketplace was discussed, as well as severe restrictions to Trade (likely: no Exalted items, no boss drops, etc). This gives me confidence that EHG have a similar perspective of the matter, but in any case:

A full-blown Trade economy would be, in my opinion, quite detrimental to the current state of the game. This under the disclaimer of potential major shifts in the future, naturally, and based on the current state of things. In any case, as it stands right now it is rather easy to get to T15ish items with the right mods, with a bit of drop and crafting luck up to T20 is possible - and this level of gear is already pretty much overkill for the majority of the content. The hunt for Exalted items then begins, which is immensely fun imo, as they are rare chase items and RNG-bound, as it should be in an ARPG endgame.

Right now the game strikes a sweet balance between determinism in helping you get the most out of drops, and late game RNG chase goals.

A Trade economy poses the question of what should be tradeable, and if we assume, for example, that items up to T20, along with crafting materials, might be tradeable, it has the potential of pretty much killing the sense of natural progression by making them too accessible - or conversely, if only via a bidding system, being essentially a sidegame and basically superfluous as simply playing the game would be more efficient and fun (in that case, no reason to add it at all).

A Trade economy poses the very real risk of trivializing basic gear progression and cutting gameplay loops short, on top of discouraging players from engaging with both the Crafting and the Filter system more, both strong points of the game and really, the whole point.

Let’s assume the above example: items up to T20 are tradeable, in a buyout or p2p trading environment. This would essentially coerce gameplay to prioritize gold over drops, because buying it would be more efficient than finding/crafting it. In turn, this would make basically all Monolith rewards up to Empowered practically meaningless for progression (if you can buy very well-rolled basic gear, most rewards will be pretty irrelevant to you).

I think a bidding system is a very good idea to make Trade less convenient and powerful, but it also begs the question of why it needs to exist at all, then. Keeping the game economy-free would force players to engage with the Crafting and Filter system more, which in my opinion is the way the game should be played, and where it can really develop its strengths in comparison to many other representatives of the genre.

Trading with Friends/Party, btw, would be great though. I’m simply advocating for keeping the economy aspect out of the game entirely, as it would simply unnecessarily complicate itemization/progression balance. If loot becomes too trivial, difficulty needs to be ramped up, if difficulty is ramped up, getting very good loot becomes mandatory, and the cycle continues.

This may be an unpopular opinion with some (and I know I have been a strong proponent of Trade in many other games where people don’t actually enjoy it), but I feel like what makes LE special and a great alternative is not falling into this trap, and focusing on the core strengths of ARPG gameplay.

I for one don’t want the LE community to grow in Multiplayer and be filled with complaints of people feeling “locked out” of progression because they don’t have enough gold etc, despite the game being perfectly viable and very enjoyable without any economy at all (a situation many may have witnessed elsewhere).

Trade without restrictions is dangerous, Trade with restrictions borders on pointless - so just don’t even open that Pandora’s Box at all, if you ask me.

Anyway, those are my two cents on a game I enjoy immensely and look forward to playing for years! Thoughts and discussion welcome.

22 Likes

Hello there.

We were discussing this on the Discord, and i agree on all points you gave there. You said everything that i wanted to say and bring up to the discussion. I’ll just add my overall feeling and a few reactions on some parts of your discourse.

On this very topic my idea would be : anything you loot could be tradeable with guildmates / people that were in your party. how that would work would be something similar at what D3 does : it adds a tag to the item for each member available for trade at the very time you loot it. That would bring little communities closer and bring party play (with friends) tremendously enjoyable.

I agree. At the moment L.E checks every case that makes an truly good ARPG, and it ticks the most important to me that only Grim Dawn nails right now, which is making gear progression MEANINGFUL.
Tied together with the crafting system and the loot filter system, every item i loot is meaningful. Either as shards generators, future crafting base, or straight upgrade. And it is the case AT ANYTIME of the character progression, espicially in end game.

My point is : i don’t see any way of making trade possible whithout making items less meaningful.
Either you make them rarer and harder to obtain to balance trading, and you have the PoE state : no upgrade comes from looting monsters… Or you don’t bother balancing it and (almost) everybody will chose the easy way and buy the best items for each slots. Which will give the powercreep D3 and PoE are facing right now…

I think it sums up very well the issue and it’s the perfect conclusion to this topic.

TLDR : With crafting, lootfilters, exalted (and legendaries to come), i don’t want to obtain any item but by my own means. For instance, i just farmed a timeline until i looted the unique i wanted, and now i’m setting up my filter in order to min max every piece of gear i want through crafting. Don’t change it please. It makes me enjoy and play the game.

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That exactly is the problem and the challenge. It’s incredibly difficult to balance between raw drop rates, item power, and Trade accessibility, and I would argue no game has ever managed to get that quite right in the genre, under a full-blown economy model.

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The fact that you and I don’t see that does not mean EHG don’t see either.
It will be important to have more info from them when possible. We know they are aware of all this, they already talked about it multiple times. Let’s see what they propose.

I don’t think trade really even matters in any context until they fix monos, crafting, respec, and movement skills. The game is just hard to enjoy for more than a few weeks as it currently is because of those things. It has the foundation to become something good, but they still need to build the house and ensure it’s sound first.

That said, D3 (pre-RoS) was one extreme of what not to do for trade. PoE is the opposite extreme of what not to do. Grim Dawn lets you trade, but most people don’t seem very inclined to, especially given that they can’t verify the authenticity of the items due to mods and trainers.

It’s just such a hard thing to do well. I personally prefer AH style trading, but then you practically send out a golden ticket to hackers, botters, and cheaters everyone to come destroy your game’s online experience. Other game go for the barbaric barter system (like PoE’s was intended to be, and that Warframe uses), but these are a hassle, unfun, and highly encourage unethical and sometimes hostile player interactions.

I’m not sure what the right answer will be in the long run, but I know that it’s all basically moot right now.

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Oh I agree, it seems like, based on what little they’ve let on about it, they hold similar views.
Just chiming in with my opinion here.

I am against trading for all the reasons already stated by the above posts and another one. A very BIG one - trade websites , scammers , gold sellers etc that would appear in LE with trading. I just hate them. I personally don’t need trade - if I want better gear I can go and farm it or craft. With all that said I still for gear exchange within a guild or FL (assuming the trade sides were friends or in the same guild for reasonable time)

This is such an important detail. These things are what makes it hard for devs to create systems that they want. Instead they have to create systems with hackers and botters in mind. I’ve watched countless game economies get wrecked because of the players messing it up.

Even if the devs managed to created a badass trade system, some 10head out there will write a program to mess with it. It really is a difficult task coming up with a solid trading system. I think they have a good idea with offering offline and MP for players. Those who don’t want to get involved in MP can play offline and still play without interference from trade. I personally won’t use MP to party with players. It will solely be for trade. I’m the loner in my games that likes to adventure solo, but make bank by selling stuff to others.

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This is very much how I play PoE usually. Main exception case being if my cousin is available to play–I prefer to duo with him when I can. He’s much less experienced in the game and struggles with trade a bit more, so I like taking the good stuff we find, convert it to currency, and share that so we can both enjoy builds we’re interested in. This is one of the few good things about PoE’s trade. I still largely would rather they didn’t have such a huge hard-on for their stupid economy, though. It really feels like a lot of that game suffers as a result.

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I would never say there is any perfect system, but there are ways and solutions to negate or minimize all the mentioned things.

EHG does put a great emphasize on all systems being accessible in game, so things like scam or 3rd party websites that are dubious will most likely already negated.

Alot of people always think of PoE when they think of trade within a aRPG, but the way PoE does it is not even close to being the only possible way, there are so many other things and systems you can do.

And before EHG doesn’t propose some systems or suggestions I give them the benefit of doubt.

Even though they never gave much details, the very few statements they gave onMP and Trade give me alot of hope.

Especially some of the most recent statement Mox gave in the reddit AMA

Why do we need Trading in LE at all? Considering all the downsides trading can potentially bring along I’d rather say 'no ’ to it. I don’t know a single game with trading that is not infested with scammers, real money traders, flippers etc. And what is the advantage of trading? Really no. You just shorten the time you enjoy the game. You buy everything you want and then no even good drop gives you an excitement.

It does get a lot of comparison. I try not to compare it myself, because I know it’s a half assed system that GGG didn’t want anyway. They wanted the in game trade through the trading channel. But the players were able to amass a huge database of the items and create their own site for trading. Pressured GGG into making their half assed site for trading lol. So it’s all just half assed.

I’m liking this comparison to PoE on Twitch right now better. LE is looking good!

Have to disagree here. It depends on the game. Trading actually extends my play in MMOs, Warframe, and even PoE (because getting what I want without trading would be so close to impossible that I’d just quit–but this is a complicated example for a number of reasons).

It has a purpose. It can be useful. It’s just that those hazards are serious issues to contend with. If you didn’t have to deal with cheaters, RMT, and scammers, there wouldn’t be that much argument against them–assuming it was done well. The question really comes down to whether EHG can find a system that makes those kinds of cheating unattractive/unprofitable, or can effectively keep them out.

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aRPG is not MMO. Different genres different tasks. In PoE it is really near impossible to get good gear without trading for your build. But that is not the case with LE

What exact purpose it is for you in LE?

Eh, PoE is in the “dead” part of its league cycle. Their player retention is fairly predictable and even GGG accepts it as such.

Because people enjoy trading, just like “they” (some) enjoy PvP.

EHG are well aware of all the issues surrounding trade in a loot-based game. Hopefully they’ll be able to find a way round the issues without impacting legitimate players.

I’d also think that simply having a box price would have an impact on bots/gold farmers/etc since when they get banned they’d need to buy another key (& no, I’m not going to get into the tin-foil-hattery of how it’s in EHG’s best interests to allow bots, ban them & then get paid by the botters when they buy subsequent accounts).

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That didn’t stop gold botters and 3rd party trade website back when AH was available in D3. And the price tag for D3 was high enough.

They can trade with their friends or within their guilds. It is not a trade simulator after all it is aRPG where you need to farm / craft.

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True. It is known they slump off about a month after the league. Still makes me happy to see that LE, not even out of beta can pull half their numbers at this point compared to their point. Good sign!

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True. Unless the chance of being caught is high enough that the likelyhood of having to spend an additional $35 that they therefore can’t make enough RL cash to pay for their costs, there will always be botters.

That would certainly be one option, but it also ####s over the people who aren’t in big guilds or with expansive friends lists. Plus it would mean that you’d have the tedious WTS/WTB messages like PoE has. Unless the AH was automatically filtered to only include your friends/guild mates.