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1-17-2012 @ 2:38PM
There are a few other considerations/problems with the tracking that is being attempted here:Because of patches and expansions, there is a kind of built-in expiration date on most or all of these goods or services. For example, Whiptail will become comparatively useless when MoP goes live, and its price will decrease as we get close to that. When tracking inflation in RL, you don't have to worry about bread becoming obsolete in 6 months, and the inherent associated deflationary pressure that comes with that knowledge. As such, most of these goods suffer from some price decay. Thus a model that treats these goods more like a stock option rather than a commodity would be best.Also a similar problem, there is almost no real way to carry value over from one expansion to another EXCEPT for gold itself. In the real world inflation greatly benefits 2 types of people: Borrowers (as their debts become relatively smaller, due to monetary inflation), and those who hold physical goods which do not depreciate. In a typical RL inflationary scenario, if I borrow every penny I possibly can to buy property, gold, pork bellies, oil, and oranges, I can expect the value of those items to move up with the inflation, and thus the value of my borrowed money (my debt) to go down. I'd make a killing. People who have lots of cash and little/no physical commodities would get crushed as his cash would become worthless. BUT, in WoW-style inflation, there is no way to carry value past an expansion in commodities. Those commodities will have severe price erosion, and so people all know they have to get rid of their goods and turn them into in-game gold in order to not lose large amounts of value.This inherently means that the supply of gold in the hands of players will tend to increase as you get close to the end of an expansion (driving up monetary inflation) and that the value of commodities will tend to decrease as you get close to the end of an expansion (driving down commodity inflation). Thus the model for inflation in WoW is very different from the one we see in RL, and I believe that a totally different model would have to be created to more accurately measure in-game inflation. One for which we may not have access to enough data to be accurate with.On top of all that, wow markets are highly fragmented (due to non-connected realms and AHs) with massive pricing differences between realms that simply don't exist in RL. Each realm will have its own inflationary rates dependent on many factors, such as population, average player laziness, number of gold-farmers/bots on that realm, number of players hacked on that realm, number of illegal gold-buyers on that realm, percentage of players who are market-savvy on that realm (willing and able to manipulate the prices of goods on the AH). For example, for an Inferno Ruby, right now you would pay about 550 gold on one realm, 100 gold on another. That is a massive spread on the price, of about 5.5 times. In the US, if that imbalance existed for one oft-traded good between say New York and California, people would be buying up all the product in Cali and shipping it to NY, paying a little shipping, and making a huge profit. They'd do it until the prices all over the country became much more comparable. But in WoW, that can't happen right now (maybe someday in the future). If everyone in game were on the same AH, prices would not only equal out, but the average price of all Inferno Rubies would likely drop, as the market becomes more liquid and more efficient.So yeah, I've probably gone on way too long here, sorry. But the point is that there are some serious problems with trying to use a CPI strategy that works in RL to calculate numbers for the in-game economy. To really do so we'd need long-term, real-time access to Blizz data on actual holdings (gold AND items) for a representative number of players. Then we could calculate the net worth of the average player (across all their toons) through time, and really have a stab at calculating in-game inflation. I would guess that someone at Blizz is already doing this. And the only way for us to do it would be to have someone create an addon that would be installed by many players (hopefully a representative population) and would track all of that and report it back to one central location for processing/analysis.
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