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Suggestion Box: The Great Retainer Fix

18 Dec 2010

With a new development team stepping in to fix/tweak/overhaul FFXIV, we here at Eorzeapedia want to help – and we’re inviting the community to help –  by picking something that needs fixing, and proposing a concrete solution.  Need help brainstorming?  Forum member Sorel has cataloged what Square Enix has already indicated is on their to-do list – so pick one (or pick something else), start thinking outside-the-box, and let us know what you come up with!

To get us started we’re going to take on the infamous retainers/auction house issue.   But we’re not just proposing search functionality, or histories, or an FFXI-style auction house.  We’re going out on a limb here with a system that we think will satisfy everyone.  From the battle weary Gladiator still using a rank 1 sword because she can’t find a new one for sale, to the Alchemist trying to sell his potions, to the Special Task Force trying to curb RMT.  So what is this proposal you may ask?  Well it’s real life, but old-school style.  Read on…1. Everyone has access to a Buying Retainer and (at least one) Selling Retainer.

2. Selling Retainers are positioned in a particular ward with items for sale at minimum selling prices.  A deployment tax is taken at the time of deployment based on the minimum price set (equal to 50% of the applicable tax rate), and a separate sales tax (equal to 50% of the applicable sales tax) is taken at the time of sale based on sales price.

3. Buying Retainers are set loose in a particular ward (to start) searching for items with maximum buying prices.  Any item in-game can be selected for purchase.

4. The Buying Retainer starts to check the wards for the items, starting from the one it was deployed in, and expanding outwards geographically.

5. When a Buying Retainer finds a Selling Retainer with the item he is looking for, the retainers bargain for the item.  The sale price will be somewhere between the maximum buying price and minimum selling price, along a bell curve.

6. The time it takes to complete the sale will vary depending on how far the Buying Retainer needs to search to find a Selling Retainer – and some luck.

7. The more often you use your Buying/Selling Retainers, the more “bargaining skill” your retainers get.  Bargaining skill will have a slight effect on the die roll – so will slightly shift the bell curve in your favor.

So let’s look at a two scenarios.

Scenario 1a:

Cindy Carpenter, from Gridania, is looking to sell a Feathered Harpoon that she just made.  Inexperienced in such sales, she gives the item to her new salesman – Sam Seller, and tells Sam to head over to the Battlecraft Den and sell the weapon for no less than 15,000 gil.

Lisa Lancer just started the game in Gridania, and worked her way up to rank 15, and really needs a new weapon.  So she decides to send her buyer retainer – Bobby Buyer – out to find a Feathered Harpoon for her.  Bobby is deployed to the Battlecraft Den (since that ward specializes in weapons) with 35,000 to spend on the item.

Bobby heads to the Battlecraft Den and finds Sam.  Bobby and Sam negotiate.  Bobby starts low and Sam starts high, and since they are equally experienced in their trade, they agree on a price of 25,000 gil.

The whole process was completed quickly – since Bobby and Sam found each other quickly.

Scenario 1b:

Instead of deploying Sam to the Battlecraft Den, Cindy told Sam to head to the Woodcutters Den, since Sam also had some wood crafting material to sell.  Bobby headed to the Battlecraft Den as above, and encountered a few sellers there selling Feathered Harpoons, but they all want more than 35,000 gil for the item.  He moves on and finds Sam in the Woodcutters Den, where the same negotiation takes place and the price of 25,000 gil is settled upon.  The process takes longer than scenario 1, and Cindy got a bit lucky that nobody in the Battlecraft Den was selling the harpoon at a more reasonable price.

Scenario 2a:

Cindy Carpenter tells Sam not to sell for less than 500,000 gil- meaning that no matter where Bobby might find Sam, no deal will be struck.

Charlie Carpenter, from Ul’dah, also wants to sell a Feathered Harpoon he just made.  So Charlie hands the Feathered Harpoon over to his trusty selling retainer – Sally Seller – with a minimum sales price of 15,000 gil.  Charlie crafts a lot of stuff, and uses Sally all the time.  He tells her to go to to the Battlecraft Row, in Ul’dah, and make the sale.

After searching the wards in Gridania unsuccessfully, Bobby sets off for Ul’dah to see what he can find for sale there.  He heads straight to Battlecraft Row – and finds Sally.

Bobby and Sally negotiate.  Bobby starts low and Sally starts high, and,were they both equally experienced in their trade, they would agree to the sale at 25,000 gil.  But Sally is more experienced, and is able to get Bobby to pay more – and they settle on a price of 32,000 gil.

The whole process takes longer than 1b above, since Bobby had to get to check all of Gridania, and get to Ul’dah.

Scenario 2b:

Battlecraft Row, in Ul’dal, is stocked with Feathered Harpoons.  There are a total of ten for sale – all at different minimum sale prices between 5,000 and 50,000.  Since they are all in the same room and he can compare, Bobby heads to the one with the lowest minimum, and negotiates (here 5,000 so average would be 20,000 gil).  If there are a few for sale at 5,000, the most experienced selling retainer would (of course) get the sale.

So we have a system where: (i) sellers are able to sell their wares with a minimum price, but because a deployment tax is taken up front, are incentivised to set low minimums (keeping in mind they will usually sell for something more than the minimum); and (ii) buyers can search for what they want and buy what they want (assuming it is for sale) and are incentivised set a real maximum price, since the higher the price the faster they will find the item (and they also will typically get an item cheaper than their maximum anyway).

Finally, and importantly for Square Enix’s perspective, this system can be implemented without logs and histories (the lack of which hurts RMT), and, because a tax is taken up front, also dis-incentivises setting high minimum prices and trying to corner  the market on certain items.

Also, there is an incentive to use the system (vs. a bazaar), since the more often you use your retainers the better negotiators they so the higher price they get and the faster the get deals done.

Thoughts? Problems?  Too outside the box?  Not far enough?  Join the discussion and share your fully thought out suggestions.