Free2play is almost upon us, bringing huge changes to the game we love. We’ll have a whole new way of buying goodies for our toons and a whole new economy, now that so much of what we strive for in Rift has been monetorised. In this article, I’m going to speculate on what the new economy might do.
The Money to Platinum Conversion
Rex (Rift Exchange) is Trion’s official method of converting money into platinum. It costs $10 U.S., grants 1250 credits when used and can be traded, mailed or auctioned on the auction house. Players who are cash-rich and lack the time or inclination to grind platinum, can purchase Rex and sell it for platinum. Time-rich players, with the ability to grind platinum, can purchase Rex and use it to add credits to their account.
When 2.3 is released tomorrow, Rex will go up on the AH quickly. It’s initial listing price on the AH is likely to be high, then fall steadily. It will take up to a month to settle into a balance between seller and buyer expectations on price. The price at which Rex sells will depend on the stores of platinum already in game and the generation of new platinum (through the introduction of new quests in the Dendrome and the increase in daily quest limits to 30).
Purchase and sale of Rex is not the only way to convert money into platinum. There will also be a healthy trade in dimension items. The new store items can be purchased with credits and converted to platinum via the auction house just like Rex. Dimension prices vary on the store, from cheap to expensive, so the initial investment of cash can suit the pocket and demand will be high for reasonably priced items. Trion’s platinum price for dimension items only sets an upper limit to the platinum cost of store dimension items. I expect a lot of unwanted items from the dimension mystery boxes will end up on the auction house. Expect cheap rocks, snags and boats.
How these two markets fair will depend on a couple of factors; the amount of platinum in the game or generated by players through questing, and the amount of items only purchasable with platinum. So many of the once big purchases will be available for money, cash players can buy much of what they need directly with money, the need for platinum will drop significantly. Only items like crafting mats, consumables and crafted (or dropped) armour require platinum for purchase.
The Radish Dim-Rex Hypothesis
The Rex and dimension item markets will, like all markets do, fluctuate up and down depending on player demand. Nor are they separate systems, the price of one will influence the other as sellers will swap between the markets according to which one profits them most. Players will take advantage of the fluctuations within the markets to buy cheap and sell expensive.
I can see a time when canny players will sell dimension items to make platinum and use that platinum to buy cheap Rex to convert to credits and buy dimension items from the store for sale when the market is high. A canny player will make a living off this cycle of buying and selling, converting between cash and platinum, for a continuous supply of free credits.
I call this the ‘Dim-Rex Cycle’.
The good news, this cycle will benefit dimensioneers wanting to purchase dimension items with platinum. The prices will invariably be cheaper than the store. The bad news? It won’t be an easy cycle to master. It will require extensive knowledge of the dimension and Rex markets. The player must calculate when Rex is cheap enough to fund the purchase of dimension items for sale at a profit. Exploiting* this cycle for profit is a game within the game that will be as exciting and rewarding as downing bosses in a raid – to the right mind, that is.
Hmmmm, I used to be an auction house mogul on WoW, maybe it’s time to dust off those skills and indulge in a little market speculation.
*Note: this is not a game breaking exploit, rather a natural consequence of two markets using the same mechanism to convert cash into platinum. Players must still buy the Rex and dimension items to fund this cycle and Trion will lose nothing from it. Like in real life, it simply transfers the wealth around from one pocket to another.