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Loads of Money: The Problem with Video Game Economies
Ever had too much money? Me neither, but it has happened countless times to me in some of my favourite games, and that’s a problem that needs fixing.
It has always bugged me, and video game developers have always seemed to give everyone a ton of money, but never enough in-game objects to spend it on.
This simple topic is what I’ll be talking about today and how it relates to the next-gen and even how games like Grand Theft Auto V could be a shining example as to how to do in-game economies right.
This is definitely not a make-or-break feature in a game, but it doesn’t help immerse me in the world you’ve tried to work so hard on either. It’s nice to have a little extra cash in games so you don’t feel as if you’re broke, but it gets a little out of hand at times.
I was playing Darksiders 2 recently and I had this exact problem. The in-game currency flows into your pockets so easily, nobody would fault you for losing track of how much you actually have.
It’s almost a helpless feeling, you’re glad to have so much money, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t spend it all. There is another type of currency in the game, but it’s merely used for chests that can contain better loot. This ended up meaning nothing to me because I had all of the strongest weapons already, and spending these coins I found in chests for more loot would only help me accumulate more money. This ends up being ultimately pointless and disappointing.
There are games that do it well, either by making money not so easily obtained, or by making objects in the game far more expensive.
This isn’t an impossible task for game developers to take on, but one that simply asks them to rethink and innovate with their in-game currency. It’d be much more rewarding for me to get 5 binglebucks from defeating a really hard boss or finding a secret, rather than
having normal enemies drop 15 binglebucks every time I defeat a singular enemy. It’s about making the player feel as if they’ve accomplished something or worked diligently towards the goal of more money. That way, at the end of the day, I can go to the local shop and purchase my item(s).
The fact that there’s a goal there, that I should feel the need to find more secrets, defeat more difficult enemies, or complete some outlandish task to spend all my accumulated binglebucks on this fancy gem that makes me look cooler or gives me a special ability.
Most open-world games seem to be the real culprits in this category, where I will beat the game and want to explore more, but there’s not really any incentive to explore the world for more items or cash that is obviously hidden somewhere.
Why would I go hunting for any items, cash, weapons, armour, and the like when I have all of the best equipment from simply beating the game? I want to explore, I want to see more, but there’s no real end-goal, especially when you’re at the end of the game and you’re way stronger than everything else in said game.
I had this problem at the end of Red Dead Redemption, as there was simply nothing there. I had completed the story and had all of the best weapons that I received by playing through said story. In a world that begged for exploration, why not make a random event generator? Or an abundance of hidden objects? Instead, there were treasure maps that lead to me having even more money.
I didn’t have a need for the money, as I already owned everything there was to own by the end of the story. Games with an economy need to feel more real, they need to expand, and that’s what I’m hoping the next-gen will do. But what about current-gen? Surely there must be something that’s getting it right, right?
Grand Theft Auto V seems to be aiming to hit that sweet spot for my in-game wallet. As Rockstar has shown so far, there will be plenty of ways for me to spend my hard-earned in-game cash. You’ll be able to do anything from decking out some of your favourite cars with paintjobs, rims, decals, and lots more. You’ll then have the ability to store those cars in your garage to use whenever you feel like it.
Now, how many cars will you be able to do that with is beyond me, but here’s hoping it’s a big number. And that’s not where it stops. You’ll be able to purchase real estate, change your character different ways anytime you want, and there’s even an in-game stock exchange. This all seems pretty wild to me! I’m excited to see what else I’ll be able to spend all my heist money on in GTA V, but nobody will know until the game is actually out.
Rockstar seems to want to show everyone else how open-world games are done with this one, and I’m hoping that they do and that others take note.
These are only a few examples of games I’ve had money problems with. What games have you had problems with, or even actually liked how the game dealt with its currency? Talk about it down below in the comments!