Now we all know the depths lucrative EBay has taken some, and the approach some have taken. Like it or not, EBay is here to stay. The consensus as to the only clear cut solution to the dilemma (for those who perceive it as one) has been that the only way it could be done was through in-game code and design. The question here is, “Have you really thought this one through?”

One proposed solution is making items “no drop/no give.” Meaning, once you have picked up said item, it is glued to you unless you destroy it. Meaning, no other person ever can get a hold of that little item beyond getting hold of your account. Frankly, and I think many of you have already seen this phenomenon’s side-effect, this method ruins any potential “economy” a game might have. Many players, myself included, really enjoy the economical aspect to multiplayer gaming. Buying, selling, trading, and bargaining with other individuals all in the name of fun. The “no drop cure” is really no cure at all, as it simply eliminates a game’s economy. Not to mention people always find ways around that one. The bottom line ends up being that you cannot deter or eliminate EBay by placing limits on what players can or cannot exchange because you end up destroying any hopes for a player economy.

A second proposal is to make things so rare, that “farming” is no longer lucrative. Again, a slippery slope. You make things too rare, you ruin the economy. You also drive up the black market prices so high, that you’ve just come 360.

Is there a real solution to this problem? Can you “design around Ebay?” I’ve thought about this one for a while, and the only conclusion I’ve come to is, “No.” Ebay is here to stay, and any attempt at trying to design a system around it is futile at best, destructive at worst. The only real solution is to design a loot system in which no “best” exists. No best weapon, no best armor, and no best magic wand of twinkie intolerance. “Nerfing” has been a big cause of driving up EBay prices, and causing certain items to no longer be circulated through everyday player trade. Supply and demand, gentlemen. You cut off the supply to anything in the name of balance, and the demand skyrockets. You cut off the demand by increasing the supply, and suddenly your platinum coin is worth less than the pesos. Was Richard Garriot a little off? Probably. Was he off his rocker? I don’t think so.

So we’ve come full circle back to design. If you’re out there and designing the next generation of PSW’s, and building your system around deterring EBay sales, stop right now. Stop it. If EBay is such an issue for your game, then either embrace it and talk to Richard about how to line your pockets with it, or take another look at your system and see where you went wrong. Don’t ruin what many players find exciting and a joy. The only time EBay should be an issue is when it comes to “static” uber spawns. Randomize. You have an RNG – USE IT. Design a loot system where no “best” item exists. One mans garbage needs to be another’s treasure. What one player would perceive as horrible for having a -25 Intelligence, another would perceive as the holy grail for its +25 Strength.

Loot is here to stay. Ebay is here to stay. A player economy is a necessity. Break one, you break them all.