Sounds like the market is working as you’d expect it to.
Perhaps this will, like Monopoly, serve as a tool to teach people that for most participants capitalism ends up being a long, boring slide into inevitable bankruptcy as all the wealth is sucked up by a few.
desperately seeking something that won’t horrify your guests
Ideally, you could maximize the horror. It’d be a niche market, but potentially lucrative.
I don’t suppose that Planet Zoo can simulate visitors with niche tastes.
I strongly suspect there’s a fantastic economic lesson here. Just based on how the economy has developed, I’d bet the code for the game’s market is chock full of tacit neoliberal assumptions about economic non-interventionism being magically optimal.
I have a hypothesis what happened: the "rugged individualists” of the neoliberal right always discount the self-compounding effects of luck in determining wealth outcomes. Given a completely equal starting population, wealth gaps unavoidably emerge between those who catch lucky breaks early on and those whose luck is worse. The gaps form the basis of feedback loops, because luck buys more luck in the form of greater economic freedom to leverage opportunities, and so widen themselves unless intentionally counteracted.
In a real economy, luck cuts both ways. Some apparent opportunities are dead ends, so fortunes can reverse themselves. But the game has one ladder to climb, one set of predetermined opportunities. Reaching for the next rung on that ladder is never a financial mistake, and in fact the only real option available. The luck-driven feedback loop is the only real dynamic, and the most significant source of early lucky breaks is simply the good fortune to have gotten in on the ground floor. This seems to happen in a lot of virtual economies.
Likewise, this same tendency in real-world economies is tempered by impending humanitarian crises neoliberals assume to be inefficiencies caused by insufficient devotion to their faith, but are actually caused by their faith. The unregulated market, “slow AI” that it is, will blithely solve for a problem by killing off the economically inconvenient, an outcome we can’t tolerate politically in the real world. So we always keep a thumb on the scale in real economies, and the neoliberals blame that for preventing the emergence of their capitalist utopia. But in a game there’s no mass starvation, no grinding the economy to a halt because there aren’t enough “losers” to do the grunt work or enough “winners” to keep them employed. There’s just people who don’t have fun and quit, which will eventually be of great concern to the company that profits from people sticking around, but doesn’t seem as dire as the real world consequences.
Thus I think what we are seeing might actually be a fantastic model of laissez-faire capitalism, inadvertently stripped of most real-world confounds and so producing a much purer signal of the consequences than is otherwise available: the rungs of the ladder get further and further apart until the effort required to climb up a rung is impractical for most people.
I have a personal hatred for planet zoo, mainly because in the last 2 years it’s taken dev resources away from my favorite game, Elite Dangerous. To the point where they didn’t do any QA testing on the last few patches and now are delaying promised content for nearly a year in the name of bug fixing.
Jurrassic Rollercoaster isn’t going to be as long-term and consistently popular as Frontier’s main fkn property.
At some level, when there is only one market, all “dividends” are reinvested in that market, leading to asymptotic concentration of wealth. In a more diversified economy, one where there are consumer goods, taxes, and inflation in the prices of consumer goods that even the wealthy consume, the concentration of wealth CAN be a bit less all consuming.
Frontier doesn’t know how to do economies in Elite Dangerous either. It’s a space trader that constantly has gold rushes on certain goods.
Frontier’s standard reaction to a price jump on a commodity is to manually yoink the demand down to zero on the station overvaluing the commodity. Usually cmdr’s in Elite will find the price variance, post it up on private player group discords, then Frontier will see the spike in human traffic to the involved station.
Is this not a single player game, like most other “tycoon” games that have come before it? Can I not play this game, completely disconnected from any online marketplace or economy? This wasn’t marketed as some kind of Zoo MMO as far as I can tell.
I was thinking that as well, and I’m guessing there’s an MMO option or something? I’ll look into what’s up with it later, I suppose. It wasn’t high on my gaming radar, but now it seems… late-stage capitalistically awesome… from a distance.
What’s weird is when game makers do “simulated economies,” forgetting that they’re still economies. Or not understanding how unregulated economies work. Smart online game developers hire economists. (E.g. Eve Online and Eyjolfur Eyjo Gudmundsson, Valve and Ioannis Varoufakis.) Game devs seem to suffer from Dunning-Kruger in this area, though, and often think they can figure it out themselves, despite having no knowledge.
Yep. Not contradicted by the testing phase, either - because that would likely be a (relatively small), fixed group of players who all started at the same time, and who experienced regular game-state resets that gave everyone clean starts in the same way. (So developers mistook their artificially level playing field for the natural state of things.)
From the article:
The sandbox mode, for example, lets you do whatever you like, while the ‘challenge’ mode is, as far as I can tell, exactly the same as Franchise mode, but is offline only. As such it contains an AI-run (and thus unborked) version of the animal market.
I could never stand games that are structured in such a way that requires “grinding” through boring tasks just to get to the good part. I have a job in the real world, when I play a video game I want to do it for fun.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a tide of genetically mutated warthogs, spewing forth across the savannah, forever.
I hate them too… A big reason I don’t play console games is how difficult it is to cheat past the grindy bits. The only explanation I have is that a lot of people don’t have a job and want one to fill the time, as inspired by this article. That, or it gives them something to do during the less engaging parts of their job.
I think a lot of it is also just filler created by game designers and who couldn’t figure out how to make a more entertaining game experience.
“Economics has happened to Planet Zoo” is the real gold star-winning sentence in the article.
No disagreement; it’s more like the two points are complementary. Gamers will grind for points, so developers get away with putting in grind instead of fun.
W h a t ?