Leveling up in Age of Conan, I was reminded of something I hadn’t experienced since 2004 when leveling up my first World of Warcraft character…
Money, back then, was epic. And with AoC, 1 Gold once again means something. These days, in WoW, 1 Gold is what you give beggars to piss them off with how stingy you are. It’s like throwing them a penny and shouting, “Have a night on the town!”
The difference, of course, is that AoC is brand new while WoW is four years old.
But that’s just it. Why does money have to stop feeling epic? Why do the days of, “One Silver?! YES!!” have to stop?
You may wonder why I’m prattling on about game economics. I’m, what we’re ultimately talking about here is lore.
Back before Burning Crusade, I was a monetary god. My astounding wealth? Over Three-Thousand Gold. Whoopie. That amount easily put me in the top ten richest on the server. Maybe top five in my faction. These days, what would garner a similar standing? 30,000 Gold? 90,000 Gold?
If it takes thousands of the highest denomination of money to sound impressive, then the money isn’t “Epic” anymore. Sure, fifty-thousand sounds impressive, but you’re being impressed by the number, not the gold itself.
See where I’m going with this? You can’t solve this with economics.
You can’t directly force auction prices to drop. Lower quest rewards? Create money sinks? Give me a break. Solutions like that are clunky and shove people into the arms of gold-sellers.
Lore is where the solution lies for maintaining money’s epic feel. And the solution is simple.
Give the game’s money more denominations. Expand it’s lore within the game.
Why doesn’t WoW use Mithril as money? Or Platinum? Or Palladium?
100 Silver = 1 Gold. 100 Gold = 1 Mithril. Why not? Sure it wasn’t used in Warcraft 1-3 but who cares?
Think about it. Imagine being able to remember when you were level 57 and finally reached your first “1 Mithril”? Sure you could say reaching 1000 Gold felt just as good, but, like I said, you’re being impressed by the number, not the gold. MMO’s are about loot, and the money should feel like loot. If there’s only four or five people on the server carrying 5 or 6 Palladium in their bag, then the money takes on a much more epic feel. It’s what the money IS that impresses you. It’s Palladium. That stuff is RARE. Not like that yellow stuff you throw at beggars.
As games issue expansions, they should also expand the economy. When Burning Crusade was released, Blizzard should have introduced Mithril as part of the economy. Epic flying mounts? 500 Mithril please!
Hopefully as newer MMO’s continue to be made, we’ll begin to see developers paying as much attention to the epic feel of our money, as they do its actual value.
Want the immersion part of it? Imagine if the NPC’s treated you differently based on the threshold of cash you carried.
“Right this way, Sir.”