The economy in an MMO

Here is a simple fact about MMO economies: every “value” in a MMORPG boils down to time investment.
In short, a thing becomes more valuable to the player-base in any game, in direct relation to the time required to make the thing.
CoH Example, since that’s what most people reading here know:
The really valuable invention recipes in CoH are valuable not because they’re uber powerful (a “tech wings” costume-piece recipe doesn’t do ANYTHING for your character stat-wise), but because they represent an investment of TIME that pretty much EVERYONE has agreed they’d rather pay ridiculous amounts of influence (which everyone earns just by playing) to get rather than spend the time (multiple Task Force runs) to get.
Right now, is MARGINALLY worth more to sell a completed Invention Enhancement (which you acquired the recipe and materials for, then made), than it is to just sell the rare recipe.
That will probably change. I say that based solely on my experience on other games that have a ‘one-click creation’ system for “production” of cool stuff… the fact that ‘making’ the thing required virtually no time at all will devalue the finished product to the point where people will actually not be willing to pay as much for the finished product as they would for the component ingredients, sold separately.
This is, anyway, what I’ve seen in games with both gathering and crafting components: gathering takes time (in WoW or LotRO, stopping on your way to somewhere else to chop wood or mine or whatever — in CoH, doing the rare bosses or Task Forces that yield the cool inventions), while Crafting a Cool Thing out of the gathered stuff is just one button click. Because the one-click-crafting is easy and requires no time, but the gathering process takes time and effort, the raw materials are (usually) worth more on the Auction House than the product you make with it, even if the thing you make is inarguably a ‘good’ item.
Which is why I tend to focus on ‘gathering’ stuff on MMOs — so far, I’ve found that you can do better, financially, simply by gathering stuff, selling it to people willing to pay for it, and just BUYING the finished products you want, rather than making it yourself… and you’ll still have ‘money’ left over.
The single exception to this I’ve found is WoW’s Herbalism/Alchemy pairing — by dumb luck, the time required to gather (herbalism) matches the time needed to Produce (Alchemy) so well that the final product (lovely potions for health, mana, good stats and smooth skin) are worth more in the live economy of the playerbase than the component parts.
Also, making potions is fun. 🙂 I dunno why, but it is. 🙂

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