Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Don’t listen to “Austrians” about hyperinflation in Diablo 3. Please.

Sooo…looks like the other shoe dropped on Diablo 3’s economy.

I’d written a while back about deflated prices in Diablo 3; about how the auction house reduces everything to money, and about the volume of items meant that there was rampant deflation of the value of goods. Things just weren’t worth much. There was always a flip side to that, though; as the playerbase dropped, as money from play multiplied, and as the players became savvy about which gear was good, there would be bidding wars on said useful gear that devalued gold vs. the cost of goods. Looks like that happened.

But please, PLEASE, Critical Distance readers: before you go running off to read the Mises institute’s analysis of Diablo 3’s economy, keep three things in mind:

1) These guys rant about how hyperinflation is coming thanks to “fiat currency” Real Soon Now all the time. They call Diablo 3 a Virtual Weimar because EVERYTHING is Weimar; either a Weimar that’s happening or a Weimar that’s soon to come. They’ve been predicting post-crisis American hyperinflation for so long now, and been so consistently wrong, that it’s become a bit of a joke. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

2) Austrians really have no place in modern economics. They’re seen as cranks due to their resistance of economic modelling and quantitative analysis, and this is coming from someone who used MARXIAN stuff. Pay absolutely no attention when they start pretending that they’re representative of modern economic thought. Their “laws of economics” are nothing of the sort, which the piece tacitly admits in avoiding discussion of any economic school outside their own.

3) In-game economies tell us almost nothing about real-world economies, because you don’t have “money sinks” and “faucets” and the rules of ownership of goods are completely, completely different. The extent to which the Mises guys try to pretend that “fiat” (read: floating) currencies are akin to an in-game economy just shows how screwy the whole enterprise is.

Sure, it can work the OTHER way, which is why I wrote the Diablonomics piece in the first place. But if you want to do economic analysis based on in-game economies, then you want to look at something like EVE Online, not Diablo 3.

Sure, by all means, check it out as a bit of a fun curiosity. But for heaven’s sake, don’t attach any authority to it.  Anything that includes the line “virtual gold had gone the way of all flesh and fiat currencies” really, really doesn’t warrant it. “Fiat currencies” are doing just fine, thanks.

Edit: Hah. When I wrote that, I hadn’t really plumbed that gabble at the end of the piece about “free markets” and the evils of “central planners” and the like. Folks, these guys have been going on about that sort of nonsense ever since Obama dared to try to rescue the “free market” from itself by doing a bit of stimulus spending back in 2008. Nobody with any sense believes that regulated markets are some sort of Evil Thing. The only smart ones who advocate that these days are the ones who stand to profit from deregulation.

Even if real-world economies behaved that way, games aren’t supposed to be completely free and open in the first place. Games are systems of rules and restrictions. The economies of games are about those rules and restrictions and the enjoyment that the player gets from operating within that space. The whole reason why Diablo 3’s economy was a miserable failure, and why the PS3/PS4 version of the game won’t have an auction house at all, is because Blizzard forgot that. The game’s enjoyment and engagement economy clashed with its gold-denominated faux-economy, and was destroyed in the conflict.

Blizzard’s success with World of Warcraft has everything to do with that game’s careful balance of time and skill vs. reward and chance. And, yes, that’s an economy, since it skillfully and carefully balances scarce resources against each other. It’s just not the sort of economy that these Mises guys understand in the slightest.

If they understood game economies at all, this article wouldn’t have devolved into reciting doctrinaire cant at the end.

Edit: There’s a far better analysis of what the AH did to Diablo 3 here at Joystiq. Yes, it mirrors my own, but it’s still from someone who understands how games work, instead of reciting Austrian Scripture, zombie-like, at the invocation of the word “economy”.

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Candidate Plays World of Warcraft: Film at Eleven

Okay, need I even say that it should be absolutely no big deal that a candidate for office plays a computer game on a regular basis? Particularly if the candidate is playing the most popular computer game in the world?

Okay, look. Everybody makes a big deal about American farmers, right? Backbone of the country, get lavish recognition, tend to feature prominently in campaign ads, issues are front-and-centre in debates, etc. Granted, farming is important. It still remains the fact, though, that there are more people in America playing Worcraft these days than there are farmers. Really.

Yes, okay, she’s a Democrat and they’re the GOP. It’s part of the game. Still, this is unfortunate:

“For nearly a year, my time and priorities have been focused on two things: getting out and meeting the people in my district and working as a social worker with Maine kids and families,” Lachowicz said. “In the last ten months, I’ve spent no more than forty five minutes play WoW. I also knit socks—and that too has taken a back seat to my work and my campaign.

“My comments were and continue to be taken out of context,” she added. “In the context of the game it’s no different than words like ‘throwing a bomb’ are used in football. It’s unfortunate that the Maine GOP is continuing to distract from the real issues impacting Maine families–and the record of the last two years while they’ve been running Augusta.

I understand why she’s minimizing a bit, but I honestly believe that there’s no reason for it. They aren’t going to back off on the point. They look like they’re changing their tack a bit, but

I completely agree with her point about the context of the comments, though. Sure, that “stabbing” thing sounds bad out of context. It’s still important. Backing off on that point just means you’re conceding a point that no game-player has any business conceding: that there’s a big black line between the fiction-worlds in gaming and people’s real worlds. It’s been a long hard struggle for all artists across every medium to make that distinction clear. An actor isn’t “stabbing” anyone, a writer isn’t “stabbing” anyone, a role-player isn’t “stabbing” anyone, and neither game designers nor game players (since gaming is ultimately collaborative art) isn’t “stabbing” anyone either. She seems to be sticking to her guns on that.

Still, maybe she’s not minimizing all that much.

Lachowicz has received emails and phone calls from people across the country offering their support, many of them thanking her for “being a woman in gaming” and not backing away from her hobby in the face of the campaign. She has also received emails from other Republican politicians who believe the Maine GOP’s campaign is acceptable.

“As a woman I have to say that people have this misconception it’s a teenage boy playing in his parents’ basement, and that’s so not true!” Lachowicz said. “And maybe it’s a good thing that [the GOP] will finally have learned that.”

It’ll be interesting to see if this blows up in their faces, considering this is exactly the sort of thing that interests low-interest voters, and considering gaming is a popular pastime among precisely the male white demo that the Republicans badly depend on. Anti-gamer comments by GOP flacks may not cause those guys to vote Democratic, but they sure as hell aren’t going to be enthusiastic about pulling that Republican lever.

Anyway, my favorite comment on this has to have been this one on Tobold’s blog:

Maybe the republicans checked out her linked character

Look at this horrible thing! She has 345 ilvl, but she didn’t stop playing 2 years ago, but spent time idiot fishing achievements and holiday nonsense.

She is indeed living in a fantasy world if she thinks she is a WoW players. She is an awful noob! Don’t vote for noobs, especially socialist ones!

Forget Democrats and Republicans. Forget conservatives and liberals. The REAL ideological divide is, was, and always will be between poopsocking raiders and n00b casuals.  I can already see the attack ads about how she uses green gems in her dungeon blues.

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Stupid Pandas.

Yes, the beta for World of Warcraft‘s “Mists of Panderia” expansion has started.

Yes, it looks like Blizzard’s return to form after the disappointing “Cataclysm”.

No, I’m not in it yet.

<grumble>Stupid Blizzard and their stupid pandas.</grumble>

That's right, buddy, you heard me.

And, yes, more on Daggerfall soon. I’m a big cheater, and I wanted to talk to you about it and about how it kinda makes Daggerfall a more interesting game. But, right now, I’m busy grumbling about pandas.

(Image comes from Blizzard yadda yadda check their site.)

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