How open trade kills any PvP MMO

This is something I contemplated a lot during my EVE days, but now – after playing PUBG – I can formulate it properly. This is because PUBG is the first not-equal massive PvP game I play that was done right. A usual PvP game has two equal teams set against each other. In massive games there are multiple unequal teams that are not set against each other. But “how” is the key.

In PUBG there cannot be positive encounter between me and a player who is not in my group. We either fight till one of us loses the game or we pass by without interaction. Even that has costs, as hiding and crawling costs time not spent looting or getting to the circle. This isn’t because they are griefers, nor that because the game rewards killing. The key step is that the game is designed in a way that non-team members cannot help each other win.

In PvP MMOs like EVE and Albion, while theoretically we should fight, we have not only no reason to. The problem is that we have a reason not to: trading. If I’m not a miner, evicting a bunch of miners would decrease my mineral supply. I have the empty space now, but I don’t want to mine. The best course of action is to leave them to mine and trade with them.

But, but, but your alliance has miners and they would love the space and you could trade with them too. Sure, but after we won, I still have to trade with them, they won’t give me minerals for free. So I replace Adam with Betty in the belt with my time, my ship, my risk only to pay the same amount for the minerals. Bad deal. If Betty wants the belt, she’ll take it herself.

But, but, but she will help you take ratting field in return. Yes, in theory. In practice, she’ll be mining during ops. Remember when CO2 had its capital besieged in M-O and only 456 Goons shown up out of 16000? Unless the alliance leadership is extremely harsh, Betty will slack and just mine after she got her belts. The result is that people are motivated to just accept the status quo and trade for the resources.

How can it be fixed? By making out-of-group trade impossible. Not just formal trade but every kind of transaction of items or currency between groups. You can’t loot their corpse (you can destroy their loot of course), you can’t open their containers (you can destroy them too) or take anything from their structures (which you can destroy). Finally, if someone joins your group, he should be able to bring no wealth with him, just himself and his skillpoints (which become non-extractable). This would not only stop most of the RMT, but would force groups to fight: if Adam wants minerals, the only way for him is helping Betty get that belt, he can’t buy minerals from a stranger. If Betty wants currency, she must help Adam get his anoms.

Of course group sizes must be limited to prevent everyone to just pile into one group for better market, but otherwise such limitation would guarantee that groups would start fighting: because that’ll be the only way for them to get resources.


PS: PUBG is going well. Top 100 is expected in a week, then I post the guide how to become so successful in the “big thing of 2017”. You can guess, no “git gud” will be in it:

Author: Gevlon

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15 thoughts on “How open trade kills any PvP MMO”

  1. How would you circumvent the possibility in PUBG to loot whore for someone? Loot the good stuff, find your ‘friend’ once +/- 25 are left, die to him so he takes all the loot? Unless something about that is done, this will happen (in games, even the smallest advantage will be exploited).


  2. @Ralph: teaming is forbidden and this kind of teaming is also obvious. If you kill the same guy again and again and again, it’s not hard to catch you.


  3. Or… you could drop the pipedream of a player DRIVEN economy and replace it with a player BASED economy, more like how the real world works.

    In player driven, you try to sell your stuff directly. Prices are all over. Scarcity can be manufactured. Why don’t these thing commonly occur in real life? Because there are laws, and you rarely sell anything “directly.”

    So… “Player based.” You sell your goods to an NPC broker and the system destroys them, leaving values in a database. People buy goods from a virtual stock with price based on supply/demand/min-max from the NPC.

    This provides the facade of an economy, with dynamic pricing based on general supply / demand plus “fudge factor” to smooth it all out.

    The alternative is to eliminate the economy altogether in PvP oriented games, as it will always be abused to seek advantage.


  4. There’s quite a big problem with your proposal.

    Remember when goons owned a majority of the technetium moons? They were maintaining an inflated price in every market.
    Now imagine the situation if they couldn’t sell/trade it. You wouldn’t be able to find a single T2 item in the market unless you are joining them.
    After a few month with that situation, you are basically joining goons, or fighting their T2 ships with your T1 ships forever.


  5. @Gevlon

    Is teaming forbidden in the ToS? How do they enforce this? If it’s the same person everytime, then yeah, I can see how it could be detected. But if you have several people “boosting” and they are taking turns doing so, how can they effectively police and prevent it?


  6. @Smokeman: that would help with RMT and market manipulation, not with the “problem” that trade and cooperation is better than war. Which is kind of a problem in a game.

    @wta: this is exactly what I want. Imagine all those people gathering to take T2 from Goons, by throwing 10x the T1 ships on them, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE to get T2

    @Noguff, yes, it’s forbidden in ToS. Enforcing: they scan for people playing in the same game often. If there are 100K+ players and 100/game, the chance of playing with Adam randomly is 0.1%/game. If you play with Adam 10 times, that’s … suspicious.

    How do you make a “boosting ring” that is big enough. What is the gain for the boosters? Boost once, get boosted once is worse than just play normally twice.


  7. “@Smokeman: that would help with RMT and market manipulation, not with the “problem” that trade and cooperation is better than war. Which is kind of a problem in a game.”

    Trying to make a primarily PvP oriented game with “trade and cooperation” features is, therefore… an utter design failure from minute one.

    Either you go with trade and cooperation, which pushes PvP to the back seat, or you eliminate trade entirely and promote PvP. There is no position that favors both equally. But if you favor PvP, you risk creating an environment where only the skilled or “For the team!” types can advance, relegating your game to niche status.


  8. I think that 100/100k is a bit naive way to calculate the expected probability. People who just completed the match have a high chance of queueing again within the same time window, and would naturally be placed in the same match.
    Also, I think that simply playing with Adam 10 times at high ratings is unavoidable because there are only so many players.
    By the way, where do 100k come from?


  9. “@Smokeman: indeed, except cooperation is fine IN-TEAM. The problem is that you can cooperate with strangers just as easy.”

    This would disadvantage small groups like Mordus Angels. What is the point? Just get off the “Must have trade!” loop. Trade destabilizes PvP and there is no way to fix that.


  10. Gevlon said:
    @wta: this is exactly what I want. Imagine all those people gathering to take T2 from Goons, by throwing 10x the T1 ships on them, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE to get T2

    Well, they do have another choice. They can join Goons, and are guaranteed T2 ships. If they try to join with other groups to fight Goons for it, they are not guaranteed to win, and even if they do defeat Goons, that still doesn’t guarantee they will win any Technetium moons, because the next fight is the infighting among the victors over the spoils.


  11. “@dachengsgravatar: you missed the part where I suggested alliance size limit, because otherwise indeed everyone just join the same group.”


    “@wta: this is exactly what I want. Imagine all those people gathering to take T2 from Goons, by throwing 10x the T1 ships on them, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE to get T2”

    But wait! If there are limits to alliance size, then it will require 10 alliances to get that sweet, sweet, T2 from the Goons.

    What will actually happen: Several alliances will conspire to keep it to themselves, requiring ((competing_alliances * X) > ( conspiring alliances)) to defeat them, where X is the actual mux factor required to defeat them and conspiring alliances is the group with the T2. Noop.

    Just get off the “Must have trade!” train in a PvP game.


  12. @Smokeman: such conspiracy is vulnerable. If alliance X inside the cartel gets weaker, the rest of the cartel members have no reason to not eject them or replace them with a strong contender


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