I’ve been gathering GTN data for some upcoming content which led to an interesting thought experiment today. There have been assurances from BioWare that a long-term solution to the issue of group content queue times is coming and most people seem to be expecting some form of mega-server to result. Although I know nothing about the situation other than what I’ve read online and heard on podcasts, I’ve begun to wonder how the eventual changes will impact the GTN as we know it today. The thought experiment is brief and boring if their solution maintains server differentiation of GTN content, so let’s assume that the result is a single, unified GTN sometime this year.
It seems reasonable that one issue when BioWare attempts to anticipate the impact of new game content, like a slot machine maybe, is that SWTOR is not a single organism but really a collection of similar but autonomous ones. Each server has a unique population both in size and makeup. It would be interesting to study the meta-data for the days between the slot machine initially appearing and the day the drop rates were slashed because I am confident that while the servers had similar directional movements in material prices on the GTN the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen is that the magnitude of those price drops varied meaningfully. This is intuitive since each server has varying portions of their population that are active in the crew skills and GTN material market-making realms.
The positive impact of a single GTN would therefore hopefully start with better implementation of new content and its economic impact. The next benefit would be an increased population of buyers and sellers, creating a more efficient market in finance terminology. There is an intrinsic benefit to combining multiple markets into a single market due to a more even distribution of supply and demand than the current system. If all of the server economies were at a similar equilibrium in the current arrangement the net impact to prices would be zero while volatility during periods of rapid change would be decreased. It seems likely that the servers are not currently at the same equilibrium points of supply and demand though, so there would be short-term disruptions that would rile up members of the community that have been able to manipulate the GTN supply and pricing for a corner of their server’s market for profit, but that’s a net positive for the broad community.
Hopefully this is part of the vision that BioWare has for the future because it would make their jobs easier in the long run even if it is extra time investment this year. Many of the complaints that I’ve seen regarding the game’s economy are focused on the GTN and a result of its partitioning under the current system, there just aren’t too many issues with the process of grinding daily missions to earn credits (an MMO core concept) or crew skills (maybe due to capitulation by critics) other than the unceasing desire for a crew skills app of some sort.
What do you think about this thought experiment? Is it a pipe-dream? Is there an obvious point or problem that was in my blind spot? Comment below or on Twitter, my goal is to create content that invigorates discussions about SWTOR while bringing data-driven answers to economic questions in the game as well. Look for my next post in the next couple days to focus on the question “how would you fix the slot machine balance issue?” that someone posed on Twitter this weekend.
Thanks for reading.
– Andrew | SWTOR Economics