Nearly all games contain some form of currency, and most place a heavy focus on earning money through various tasks. In some games, particularly of the simulation variety, money is the ultimate gameplay item. And, of course, money is the driving force of many aspects of Real Life. But, in many games, money is inexplicably not always a very useful possession, which can result from any of the following:
Nothing particularly attractive is available to spend money on. Any items and equipment you would pay for are only available by progressing through the game, exploring the environment, completing sidequests, or looting dead enemies.
Any useful things to buy are so cheap you never have to concern yourself with money.
Necessities are unnecessary: your character never needs to eat or drink, and either doesn't need to sleep or can sleep in a ditch without contracting pneumonia.
Any of these factors tend to lead to a situation where you end up with huge amounts of money, either with nothing worthwhile to spend it on, or no way to spend it all — that is, having a lot of money for nothing.
In RPGs, this trope occurs very frequently in the form where money is highly valuable at the start of the game, when your characters lack basic healing spells and items, but then becomes increasingly less useful as you progress through the game and acquire more than enough money, ample supplies of basic items, and weapons and equipment that are superior to those sold in shops.
Another common variation is when money is useful with regards to Sidequests and 100% Completion-related things, but is of little interest to players only interested in completing the main game.
Developers will often attempt to address this problem by creating a sudden obstacle late in the game that requires an enormous amount of money. This arbitrary workaround is hardly more desirable. They can also opt to create Money Sinks.
In order to avert the player having more money than they could ever use, game designers will sometimes add places which require a different kind of currency. Compare Scoring Points.
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In many games of the The Legend of Zelda series, shops sell items at ridiculous prices; that is, the same items you can obtain for free simply by going outside and cutting down grass. Money is seldom required in the main game.
Zelda games play it as close as possible without falling into parody domain: plain glass bottles and bomb bags will be given out apologetically to reward you for an errand, but you can never just go to the store and buy four bottles.
The original game averts this: not only are there a wide variety of useful items for sale (with rupees fairly difficult to find and only coming in 1 and 5 rupee denominations), but once you have everything, they continue to serve a very important use as arrows.
You only need a minimum of 710 Rupees to complete The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: 500 for the Flippers, 110 to pay off Kiki the Monkey (incrementing by 10 every time you screw up), and 100 for every Giant Bomb you buy, of which you only need one. Aside from potions (the best Blue Potion being reasonably priced compared to the Red and Green ones compared to other games), the only real money sink is increasing your bomb and arrow stock. If you're a smart and careful player, you can keep enough chests filled with Rupees to buy off all the upgrades the very moment they come available.
In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, the Bow is THE most expensive item in the game at 980 Rupees (money cap is 999). Once you purchase it, you never need to collect money again. There are also tricks for saving while your money is being drained (doesn't continue the drain when you re-load), or just outright stealing it.
The "having nothing to spend it on" part of this trope happens in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, when you've finally gone to all the effort to kill all the Golden Skultulas, only to be rewarded with a respawning 200 rupees, which at this point in the game is likely beyond worthless. Oddly, the lower rewards in the House of Skultula are the better ones. As a matter of fact, the trope is even lampshaded: One Kokiri points out that most of the items in the shop can be found in the forest for free.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is mostly an aversion. You'll spend a decent amount of time with your wallet full, but there are many sidequests that require you to use your cash, such as helping to complete the bridge, and opening the Castle Town Malo Mart. Malo Mart, in turn, also sells many items that while usually optional are very useful. One of them, costing most of your wallet capacity to buy, is the Magic Armor. It causes damage to be taken from your rupee count instead of your health (as well as slowly draining 'em while you're wearing it). This means you'll be grinding for rupees the first time you try to tackle the Cave of Ordeals. And bombs must almost always be bought (there are a few in chests, but they're never dropped by enemies or found when breaking pots or cutting grass).
Averted in the Oracle of Ages/Seasons games, where the Magic Potion costs 300 rupees, and you always want to be carrying one around. Although these can also sometimes be dropped by a semi-random encounter. Gasha seeds (which are needed to get most rings, as well as a piece of heart) also cost 300, but the amount required is staggering, due to the luck involved. Although subverted in Ages, where you can get some on the top of the Maku Tree.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword also manages to avert it by making many useful items cost rupees. Additional pouches, medallions, a piece of heart, shields, shield repairs, etc. all have a cost and, until the very end, you're almost always in need of something — which is also why your wallet is able to get so much bigger. Unlike any of the other console titles, it's actually possible to go through an entire 100% Completion campaign and never once have your wallet filled to capacity.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds averts this by means of Ravio's item rental shop. You have to pay about 20 or so rupees to rent every item, and if you die, you have to re-rent them. Alternatively, you can spend several hundred rupees to have the item permanently, which also lets you upgrade them.
The so-called Castleroids (or Metroidvanias) of the modern Castlevania series often do this when it comes to equipment, as there are normally better ones in the environment, with the traditional exception of one really expensive item you'll have to farm cash to get; other Castlevania games manage to avert or downplay this. The original Castleroids (until Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow) wouldn't let you sell your items, leaving you with a bloated wallet and inventory. In comparison, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair has some nice armour in the shops, and lets you buy gamebreaking amounts of consumables. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow has some good weapons in its shop, but it stops mattering halfway through. The next two games made the shops useless. Then Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia inverted the trope; money is scarce, and all of the best armour has to be bought. In Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, there is a gameplay motivation to hoard money: the Miser Ring, which increases the damage you do as your wealth increases.
Crusader of Centy. The only items available that aren't plot-critical are certain one-use partners and an additional hit point.
The sequel to Little Big Adventure, Twinsen's Odyssey takes on the name of this trope fullblast when you're nearing the end of the game. When you're in the undergas portion of Zeelich, there is a company vault you can rob from which will give you 150 Zelitos which, in this game's case, is like hitting the jackpot. The cash in the vault even resets after leaving the building, so you can continuously take out 150 Zelitos. Problem is, at this point in the game, you don't need Zelitos anymore. The most you'll ever need from here to the end of the game is 5 to 10 Zelitos for a couple needed boat rides between the uppergas islands (or waste time in the Zeelich casino). It's almost like a cruel joke put in by the developers because there are quests beforehand where you gotta pay someone 120 Kashes or 100 Zelitos to continue on, but when this insane amount of money is dropped in your lap, it ends up being completely useless.
By the time Fox acquires the largest Scarab wallet in Star Fox Adventures, only one item exceeding the 100-Scarab limit is available: The Gold Fruit stolen from a mammoth character in SnowHorn Wastes. No other item will be expensive enough to justify having to get the largest Scarab wallet, and by the late point it's gotten any other item (maps, gadgets, etc.) will likely have been bought already.
The LegoStar Wars games, particularly in 2, where one can build a fountain from gold Lego bricks that spews "studs" (their form of currency), which at that point, the player likely has little to nothing to spend them on. The Xbox 360 version of the game even gives you an achievement for maxing out the stud counter.
Lego Batman and LEGO Indiana Jones are also bad "offenders". To wit: there are five stud multipliers that can be purchased, ranging from x2 to x10. They stack.
Combine this with three other extras: 'Stud Magnet' attracts studs; 'Character Studs' causes enemies to explode in a shower of studs; and 'Always Multiply' allows you to always multiply the number of studs you collect even if you haven't been attacking anyone. You can max out the stud counter extremely quickly.
In Lego Indiana Jones, studs fall from the sky at 100% Completion. Of course, there's nothing left to do...
In Lego Harry Potter, you can buy an extra early on that turns all the 'Ghost Studs' that appear behind ghosts into BLUE studs. After that, any other cash is useless.
Initially, Devil May Cry required you to spend your red orbs on both items and move upgrades. So you'd have to choose wisely between saving up for new moves or cashing in for items (particularly with Blue and Purple Orbs, since they have the persistent effect of raising your life and magic meters respectively). However, when 4 rolled around, Capcom split up the shop system so red orbs would only be used for items while a new kind of currency, "Proud Souls", would be used to purchase moves. This had the effect of making red orbs fairly unimportant (since a good player wouldn't need to purchase things like Vital Stars to stay alive). DmC Devil May Cry operates on a similar principle, once again using different currencies to purchase items or skill enhancements.
Spending money on items in Bayonetta is a waste, since you come across plentiful components for item crafting in the pause menu, which costs NOTHING, and actually using said items will only detract from your post mission score. However, there are several things that your stockpiled money can be used for, like a certain cheat that lets you unlock particular weapons that otherwise can only be gained by beating the game on certain difficulty levels, and in one case, by beating an INSANELY difficult bonus boss.
The point-and-click adventure game based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail let you collect absurd amounts of money but gave you only one place to spend it: to buy shrubberies for the Knights Who Say Ni. Since you don't actually get anything out of buying shrubberies, there's no point in that either. Until the end of the game, that is, when you have to throw away all your items in order to be light enough to cross the Bridge of Death. Then it becomes a puzzle to collect precisely enough money to be spent on several shrubberies and be left with nothing.
In The Secret of Monkey Island, you get a large sum of pieces of eight early in the game, and have only a few things (a sword and swordfighting lessons, a shovel, a treasure map, and a roll of breath mints) to buy; once that's done, you still have over a hundred pieces of eight left and literally the only thing to spend it on is futilely trying to buy root beer from a non-functional vending machine.
This is probably less about useless money and more a design decision; after all, there's no indication that the non-functioning vending machine will ever give you anything so it's possible (if time-consuming) to spend your money at the machine before buying the necessary items. By providing a decent extra amount of cash, it's less likely a player will screw themselves up.
In a complete inversion, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge starts you off with more money than you could possibly ever use. Almost immediately, it's all stolen from you. You get more later on, and can spend some or all of it on random knickknacks at a certain shop, only a few of which are actually useful.
In The Curse of Monkey Island the problem is yet further averted: You fleece an insurance salesman for a quantity ambiguously defined as "a lot of money", but the only thing to spend the money on is a hand of poker. The buy-in (and minimum bet) is "not a lot of money". No matter how many hands you play and inevitably lose, you'll still have "a lot of money". You can also try to purchase the item the pirates have which you need, only to find out you can't afford it since it costs "An awful lot of money".
In the adventure game Pirates! (any version), a skillful enough player can go the whole game without using his gold to buy anything other than information/treasure maps and bonus items from the guys hanging out in the backs of bars. Gold on all but the hardest level (typically for serious repairs/dancing shoes) merely becomes another bragging point. More uncharacteristically, once you've made a large enough amount your crew (of frickin' pirates) never becomes unhappy, thus you never need to divide the plunder until your character is REALLY feeling his age, thus you never need to pay them for their services. Gold must release pleasant pheromones in the Pirates! universe. Aging makes sword-fighting more difficult, but it's really quite easy to win fights anyway even at the highest difficulty setting, and after the age of 40 you stop aging. Add that to the infinitely-satisfied crew exploit, and you can play the game forever, earning more money than you could dream of. And yeah, there's virtually no use for it.
In the first game, the class that gets the most money, the Thief, gets the least to spend it on, and can easily end the game with a few hundred gold pieces (though daggers are consumed if you throw them at enemies, so they might need to be replenished that way). Mages get enough money to buy their spells by the end of the first major story quest, and will likely have most, if not all of them well before that. Fighters need to buy the chain mail (canonically), which costs 50 gold, but get 50 gold at the end of the first major story quest. The major money sink is potions, which are still relatively cheap, comparatively speaking.
In the second game, even if you don't import a character, you start with between 80 and 120 dinars (depending on whether or not you figure out the moneychanger's exchange rate scam). You will need about 200 dinars to finish the game for most characters, though thieves need far less, and you get 50 dinars for completing plot required missions every week (or so). To add insult to injury, your massive pile of cash is stolen from you in the endgame sequence.
In the third game, you start with a whopping 200 Royals, and can buy literally everything you need for the game in the first few minutes. Money then ceases to be a problem.
In the fourth game, you start with no money at all (finally!), but before leaving the first area, you accumulate about 15 gold coins, which is about 10 gold coins more than you will need to complete the game. Paladins have it a bit rougher, but still end up with a surplus of a few gold coins. The game practically throws money at you, and provides very little to spend it on: the only recurring expense is rations, which are hardly needed anyway if you eat a meal at the inn every morning and evening. Pations, mana restoratives, and so on are provided to you, though you need to know where to look.
The fifth game gives an awful lot to spend your money on, including new weapons and armor that can be extremely useful, and in an inversion for the series, surprisingly few ways to acquire it: other than betting on the arena battles, sources of income are slim, and arena battles become extremely difficult to time correctly as the plot progresses.
Deadly Premonition is the king of this trope. You are monetarily rewarded for every little thing. Shaving, changing your suit regularly, driving well, checking the weather on TV, and killing enemies.
Need for Speed: Carbon sort of played this one: not only you win enough money from racing alone to tune 4 cars to the limit, but you also have enough money to buy an Aston Martin DB9, a Nissan Skyline, a Chevrolet Corvette, a Dodge Viper, and a Koenigsegg CCX.
The first Underground title suffers from this problem. You will earn money faster than new parts unlock, causing you to be rolling in money with nothing to use it on (even arbitrarily changing your car's visual elements while waiting for the next tier of performance parts to open up will not burn enough money to offset how much you earn by racing). Underground 2 tends to avoid this as you can maintain more than one car (changing your car in Underground will cause the parts and visual elements to transfer to the car you swap to, meaning you can't hold onto more than one car at a time) and there's considerably more in the world to spend money on.
Downplayed in the Gran Turismo series. There are a lot of cars to buy, each upgradeable, so even if you get a lot of money there'll be something to spend it on.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl falls under this. Coins are mainly used for continuing if you fail in Classic or All-Star mode and used for the Coin Launcher to get stickers and trophies. The fact that you literally gain coins for every single mode you play in and gambling coins for spectator mode online, you'll quickly reach the 9999 coin limit with nothing worthwhile to spend it on. Note that if you're into 100% Completion, it's quite likely that you will blow through all 9999 coins you collect in the process of trying to get many trophies in the Coin Launcher, or continuing repeatedly in some of the higher difficulties of Classic and All-Star modes. But it's not like it takes long to build your cash back up, and you'll only need to do all that once.
One of the versions of Link made for M.U.G.E.N averts this by means of an arcade mode-esclusive shop. Throughout the rounds, Link can collect rupees, which are used at the beginning of the following matches to buy equipment. This is especially handy if one tries to go without any items, building Link up ala the original games with very valuable attacks. But unlike most of the canon games, all of his items are bought through this shop feature. And since money is awarded based on how well you can combo, affording more equipment is much more dependant on how well you play. Finally, even if a player buys everything, has a satisfying "random objects" selection, or chooses "all objects," Rupees still play an important role in bottles and their contents, which is helpful if the roster is full of Nintendo Hard characters.
First Person Shooter
In Deus Ex, weapons, ammo, and supplies (such as medkits and biocells) are so abundant that it's pretty much useless to buy them off NPCs. Weapon mods might be worth buying, but you can find just enough of these weapon mod items to max out a couple of your preferred weapons. Some of these mods (such as the recoil and accuracy ones) are also helped by upgrading your weapon skills. So it's not like you'd be spending a lot of money buying from NPCs. On top of that, some of the things that require money in the game can be gained through alternate means anyway (usually picking locks or sneaking around). The only item left that might be useful if purchased are the nano-augmentation upgrades, but they're not sold anywhere. This makes sense if you consider that there are about four nano-augmented people in the world to sell the rare (and presumably VERY expensive) upgrades to. As a result, many players don't even buy anything in the course of the game, other than the beer you give to your pilot at the beginning (which is optional anyway). Late in the game, the player can buy some LAMs to help sink a ship, which costs at minimum 2,400 credits and at most 3,500 credits. However, plenty of LAMs and TNT crates can be found lying around in the naval base for the player to use for free. Then again, no one after the gas station has anything to sell, even though there are still opportunities to pick up credits.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution runs into the same issue. Weapons and ammo are never a problem, as there are more than enough out in the field. Weapon mods are a more reasonable purchase, but even those are common enough that if you focus on a particular weapon, you'll find plenty for free. The only thing left to buy after that are Hypostims, Cyberboost Jars, and Praxis Kits, all in limited supply. Plus, once you leave Hengsha for the second time, you'll never see another shop (besides a LIMB Clinic on Panchaea) to spend the tens of thousands you're likely to have left over by the end of the game.
Gremlins 2 for the NES. Most enemies drop black orbs which you can use to buy powerups from the old man from the movies. However, you can only use each shop once, and the game is completely linear. As a result, other than the very first shop or two, you nearly always get the most expensive item because you always have enough orbs to buy everything in the store several times over if the game would let you. Interestingly, the game would have been easy if you could have sunk all that "money" into powerups and extra lives, but with this limitation, it makes the game Nintendo Hard.
You wouldn't expect this trope in an FPS, but Command & Conquer: Renegade multiplayer can leave you with more money than you know what to do with, especially if you play as an Engineer. The character upgrade is fairly cheap and vehicles are limited in number. Plus you'll easily make more money repairing buildings and vehicles. Some servers try to alleviate this by allowing you to gamble for random prizes.
Metro 2033 plays with this trope. After leaving the Metro for the last time, there are no shops to buy from, though you still find currency lying around. This would be absurd if the "money" in this game wasn't high-quality assault rifle rounds.
Borderlands: You can find dollars everywhere, and selling the guns you find but won't use is an extremely quick way to earn thousands upon thousands of $$$. However, the only ways to spend that money on are on ammo packs, of which the most expensive doesn't reach 80 bucks, and the occasional good firearm, class/grenade mod, or shield. It gets so bad that money overflowwhat? a glitch that screws the money counter after a certain amount is collected and completely empties the player's wallet upon death is dangerously common, and a box that literally serves no other purpose than to remove eight millions off your funds (giving a non-achievement in the process during the first time) becomes an important asset in later playthroughs to avoid it.
Civilization III managed to include this one with the Wall Street Small Wonder (i.e. each player can build it). This Wonder gives you 5% interest on your treasury every turn. Since, as Albert Einstein said, "compound interest is the most powerful force in the Universe," this has a pretty amazing effect: if you have so much as 5 gold in your treasury, you'll come out a few turns later with more cash than you know what to do with; even with hideous fiscal management, money is no object. As a result, this Wonder was known as a Game Breaker.
This was eventually fixed with an Obvious Rule Patch limiting the amount you could benefit from this to 50 gold.
The Sequel Civilization IV managed to break the game with Wall Street again if you founded as many Corporations as possible in the city with Wall Street (which gives a 100% bonus to all gold earnings for every gold producing building in the city—with no other improvements in the city, gold earnings are doubled there). Each corporate headquarters would earn money for every franchise it had in another city giving a cumulative effect. However franchises themselves would cost the city that hosted them a ton of money, meaning it would be stupid to have franchises in your own cities because the cost of them would outweigh the money gain from the headquarters. That is, unless the headquarters was in the same city as Wall Street. An even better tactic is to spread your franchises to as many foreign cities as possible with all your corporate headquarters in one city with Wall Street. You literally rake in thousands of gold per turn and leave all foreign nations destitute as none of them can hope to deal with the gold drain you place on them.
Galactic Civilizations II: once you get out of the early-game economic freefall stages in which you have half a dozen worlds that you need to industrialise simultaneously, you can begin accumulating obscene amounts of money. Get enough and you can basically buy any non-military tech from the more generously disposed AI empires, upgrade everything in weeks, and even purchase entire battlefleets overnight.
Endless Space is a lot like this too, but earning huge amounts of cash is actually a way of winning the game.
Hack And Slash
Diablo II is notorious for this, as the only major costs in the normal game are gambling items (never necessary) and reviving your mercenary. This is especially noticeable in its online Battle.net play, where barter between players is exclusively item-for-item; a somewhat-useful magic ring called the Stone of Jordan became the meta-currency, as the sale price of items being advertised in chat would often be expressed as "X SoJ" Many mods of the game make new items available from shops, or increase prices on basic items.
Diablo III is even worse about this. You'll only have to spend your money on repairing your equipment, which costs a piddling amount of gold to do, even at higher levels. You also no longer need to spend money to revive your mercenaries; they automatically revive after a certain amount of time. While it does cost a growing amount of money to remove gems from sockets (which you'll be doing a lot of once enemies start dropping Imperial-level gems), or to try and re-roll a stat into a better one at the Mystic, it's pretty easy to recoup the cost from selling random loot you find.
This has become increasingly more common across newer generations of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. The tendency to want to tightly control progression and prevent twinking, as well as a way to stop inevitable inflation (in universes with Money Spiders) from ruining the gameplay, has led most MMO developers into introducing "badges" or other alternate, non-standard, merit currencies that are bound to a single character and can only be used to purchase items for the dungeon or event they are associated with.
World of Warcraft. Coupled with the way that Crafting can considerably increase the value of your Vendor Trash, you can end up with hundreds of thousands in gold and barely notice. Training, recipes and mounts cost money, but it doesn't actually eat into your bank balance that much.
The right pairing of Professions (for example, Skinning paired with Leatherworking) can save you a lot of money at the Auction House.
Cooking and First Aid are professions that largely replace the need to buy healing potions. However, healing potions heal instantly, Cooking is only for non-combats, and First Aid can be interrupted.
Most of the important items you acquire in the game nowadays are either found in drops (and are Soulbound and so cannot be traded for gold) or are purchased with alternate "currencies" such as "Justice Points," earned from participating in dungeons and the like.
This was avoided for the first few years of Star Wars: Galaxies thanks to a robust player crafting system and a well-developed in-game economy. Once the players figured out how to abuse the crafting system, however, problems started to crop up in the form of inflation (players could complete missions far faster than they should have been able to), but things eventually stabilized. However, with the much-maligned New Game Enhancements, many forms of "credit sinks" that took money out of the in-game world were removed; as a result, inflation exploded and costs went up by, in some cases, a factor of 1000 or more. The game slowly slid into more of a barter-style economy, ultimately seeing the trope played straight.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): In Silver's story, You have to buy all of his upgrades to progress, and in Shadow's story, you have to buy all but two. If you even did decently on the levels, you'll have more than enough rings to buy the extra two and leave you with tons of rings saved up with literally nothing to spend them on. Sonic is a bit of a exception. Only his first three upgrades are required, but the other 7 are only available right before the final level.
Sonic Generations has points that you earn for completing levels, based on your score (10,000 score = 100 points). You use these points to purchase beneficial skills for both Sonics. If you're a completionist - going after S ranks and Red Rings in the stages, doing many of the challenge acts - you'll have more than enough points to buy all the skills and the Sega Genesis controller (the most expensive item at 7,777 points), and still have plenty left over. All that's left to buy after that are extra lives, which then makes them meaningless.
This is the entire premise of Conkers Bad Fur Day. All the piles of cash you collect in game can't actually be spent on anything (whenever you make an investment, money literally returns to you, so it works more like the requirement of collecting Plot Coupons in other platform games in the sense that you just have to keep them at hand to progress), and it's never explained why you're getting them other than "money is good".
In New Super Mario Bros. 2, you find money everywhere, you have nothing to actually spend it on, and the whole premise is collecting money for the hell of it (and a new title screen). It gets pretty literal in some levels, where money literally flies out of the ground or appears from thin air when Mario simply stands in the right place, or with the Gold Flower, which actually turns anything it hits into cash. You will never, ever run out of money in the game.
DROD:RPG tends to have this problem in user-made "holds" (level sets). All the enemies in the game have stats (including amount of money carried) copied over from the game it's based on, Tower of the Sorceror; but that game also had Money Sinks in the form of "altars" (which let you exchange money for stats, with the cost of each use increasing quadratically). Many user-made holds lack altars, and the player just ends up accumulating so much money that there is never any difficulty in buying everything buyable as soon as it's offered. One level set, "Nobard's Hold", has dealt with this problem quite effectively by doubling all costs.
The currency in Scribblenauts is "Ollars". You get Ollars for completing any level (be they Action or Puzzle). You get more Ollars for using certain items (tools, animals, weapons, etc) or completing a level in a particularly clever or awesome way. The thing is...the only thing to spend these Ollars on are extra characters to replace Maxwell. They cost an average of 2000-3000 Ollars each. By the end of the game, you'll have well over 300,000 Ollars. note And don't bother writing "Ollar" in the magic book. You'll get a stack of Ollars, sure, but it won't be added to your account.
Real Time Strategy
Inexperienced players of games with both a Command And Conquer Economy and a Research system often run into a temporary version of this, having a monstrously robust income without the production capability, population cap or high technologies (or all three!) to spend their resources on.
In their RTS games such as Warcraft and Starcraft, Blizzard often gives the enemy your fighting in the campaign huge amounts of cash at the start to give them an edge against you. Resource reserves that would take the enemy HOURS to acually use up. Makes you wonder why Blizzard even bothers to give the enemy bases minerals and gas to collect from; most logical reason being to clear out the enemy for a second base.
One particular Warcraft mission, Blizzard does do this for you instead of the computer. The first undead mission of Frozen Throne you're given 40,000 gold and lumber, because you're not base building in this mission. Then, there are your two allies you also control in the mission; both of which ALSO have 40,000 gold and lumber. You'd have to REALLY waste your soldiers to go through 120,000 resources in this mission.
The objective of Pikmin 2 is to amass 10,000 Pokos to pay off your company's debt. Once you reach this goal, however, you can return to the Pikmin planet to gather up the treasure you didn't find. The treasure still has monetary value, though, and boosts your Pokos count, but there's literally nothing to spend it on (and your post-game progress is tracked by individual treasures found, not their worth). What's gratuitous is that many of the treasures found only in the postgame are incredibly expensive (one treasure is worth 3000 by itself, and the final boss drops over 4000 in separate treasures), meaning their high values are completely pointless. Retrieving enemy bodies also becomes pointless after paying off the debt, since that serves no purpose but to provide a few extra Pokos.
Money in Nethack is a strange case; having some money around can help you bribe your way past a couple of (not hard) bosses, and buying protection from priests is often beneficial; but beyond that everything in shops can simply be stolen by a well-trained pet and it's dirt cheap to buy anyway (unless you stumble across Grayswandir in a shop, you lucky sod), which means money is just there for extra points if you beat the game, and taking up space in your backpack (The Dev Team Thinks of Everything in action - one hundred and thirty seven thousand gold pieces actually have weight in this game...).
Interestingly, in ADOM, your money is more useful the less you spend it. A blessed girdle of greed increases your maximum carrying capacity according to how much gold you have. Classes that can't cast Strength of Atlas to lift their gear will end up hauling around massive amounts of gold. The exception is for chaotic mages, who can cast Atlas and rob shops and won't need their gold for anything.
When you start Castle of the Winds, you have three thousand copper to your name, and that's before buying your starting equipment. By the end of the game you're getting double-digits of platinum, and each platinum piece is worth 1000 cp.
It is possible for certain countries to end up in a position like this in Avalon Hill's Third Reich, both the computer version and the table-top version. If a country is fully mobilized but not engaged in heavy fighting, it will quickly find that it is building up BRP's with nothing to spend them on. Usually, however, this is not an issue.
Dungeons of Dredmor: Depending on your build and how lucky you've been with random finds, you'll eventually have more money than you know what to do with somewhere around floor 10 or so.
Role Playing Game
Since item synthesis is the only thing that costs munny in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, you will end up with ridiculous amounts of cash rather fast. For who knows what reason, all of the items you can buy from the Organization Moogle cost Heart Points...even though he claims that the reason he follows Roxas is that he would miss all the munny spent at his shop.
The Mario & Luigi series gets guilty of this near the end of the third game (Bowser's Inside Story) due to all the treasure chest enemies Bowser faces, combined with coin-earning multipliers and blocks that can rejuvenate your health for no cost. You are guaranteed to have at least 10,000 coins by the end of the game.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team falls into this as well, especially in Hard mode. You see, in that mode, you can only carry ten of each item. And lots of enemies drop items on a regular basis. So it ends up being very hard to run out of money by the end of a Hard mode playthrough, since you never need to buy the best items or (much of) the best gear, most mini games are free and the best badges you can buy are fairly cheap in comparison to how much money you actually get (the Miracle and Master badges only cost 2000 coins and the Gold badge only costs 5000 coins). On the bright side, there is a neat Gold Hammer item which does significant amounts of damage if you have a lot of money on your person (and which doesn't take away any cash to use) so at least you can use the spare money to power up the Infinity–1 Sword.
In Final Fantasy VII, money is moderately useful at the start of the game when you're poor, but by the time you reach disc three, you'll probably have hundreds of thousands of useless Gil. The programmers may have lampshaded this, as they give you the chance to splurge all that extra cash on a beach-front villa, which besides allowing you to heal for free, has no practical purpose.
By disk 2, you have a reason to spend all that money: Chocobo Breeding. It costs 10,000 Gil per stall (you need four minimum), and at least 3 million Gil for the greens. Where do you get that much Gil? Sell those All Materias you mastered, which go for 1.4 million a pop and are easily mastered. Perhaps getting that Gold chocobo is worth its weight in Gil.
Or you could use the item duplicationtrick and never have to worry about money ever again (in addition to completely breaking the game and removing all difficulty, of course).
The "Coin" ability (granted by a yellow action materia) lets you toss Gil at enemies. The damage corresponds to how much Gil you use, but since it can only do 9999 damage at most at a cost of 99990 Gil, by the time you have that kinds of cash to throw around freely, you can easily outdamage it in other ways and nobody ever uses it.
Likewise, in Final Fantasy X-2, an important item can be had only if the party has an enormous amount of Gil very early in the game. Later, it becomes not only more or less useless, but a fairly simple optional quest makes it effortless to acquire.
Also, early in game you can follow an optional quest that allows you to get lots of money by exploiting a trader's generosity.
Final Fantasy VIII gives you a regular salary based on your SeeD rank rather than as part of your loot hoard or from selling Vendor Trash. Basically, every ten real-time minutes or so you'll get several thousand Gil. Most items that can be bought cost a couple hundred. Both they, and the rare ones, can be found in loot drops, or just mugged from enemies. By the time you leave the D-District Prison, provided you've kept your rank appropriately high through a combination of not running from fights, summon-spamming and taking the written tests, you can be pretty close to a Gillionaire. And this is only the beginning of disc two, and you haven't got anywhere to even begin to spend all that money for another several hours yet. If you haven't got a million Gil by Disc Three, you're either bum-rushing, or slacking somewhere.
The enemies in Final Fantasy IX give absurd amounts of gil when beaten, and Quina can learn the "Millionare" ability fairly early too to increase that amount even more. In addition, the majority of the games weapons and equipment can either be stolen from bosses, found in dungeons, or aquired in various side quests for free, so there isn't nearly as much a need to buy equipment in stores. Not to mention you'll probably find yourself with boat loads of various consumable items just from stealing and enemy item drops. There still are a few money sinks like synthesizing and the Treno Auction house, but getting the money for them is extremely easy. And if you exploit the Cotton Robe trick, it's more noticeable; for every 1690 Gil it costs to produce one, you can sell it to any merchant for 2000 Gil for a clean 310 Gil profit. If it's exploited in early Disc Two when you first visit Treno, you will end up with a ridiculous amount of cash (and consequently the funds to sink into powerful equipment at the Auction House), and if you do it after you get the Global Airship in Disc Three (by which time you will in most likelihood have 99 of every healing item already), you can end up with millions of useless Gil within an hour of gameplay.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is guilty of just about every point listed at the top of the page. Money can be spent on four things: Cure Potions, Bombs, Seeds, and weapon/armor upgrades. The upgrades are one-time investments that the player should have more than enough money for without any effort put into it whatsoever, while the Cure Potions and Bombs can be acquired through respawningInexplicable Treasure Chests. Even the comparably expensive (and rare outside of stores) Seeds can reach their capacity cap with almost no Money Grinding, thanks to the dearth of other things to spend the money on. Naturally, these turn out to be a Game Breaker in mass quantities.
Baten Kaitos Origins uses a card-battling system, and your deck is essentially set about at third of the way through the game (once you've reached the maximum hand size). Your basic attack cards never change and armor cards are more trouble to use effectively than they're worth, so the only cards that need to be swapped out as the game progresses are super moves, which can't be bought, and better healing cards, which are one-time investments since they never get used up.
Considering the vast amounts of expensive stuff the player gathers but can never sell in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the PC's net-worth can be estimated at well over a million. Good thing the coins were weightless.
Try filling Grand Soul Gems with big monster souls and selling them to Creeper (mentioned below). Try pocketing 5 million drakes in a single week of gameplay!
Using the enchanting services provided by certain NPCs added the gold spent to their inventory, allowing players to sell even the most expensive of goods at reasonable profit.
The flat-out easiest way to get money for nothing in Morrowind takes advantage of a rounding error, and doesn't even require decent stats: the game works out the total price of goods differently depending on whether you click on a whole stack of items at once or add them individually. At the start of a game you can pick up a stack of four hundred minimum-value tax forms. Simply add them to your "sell" stack one by one and the game will raise the price by the minimum value rounded up to a whole coin on each click. Sell for four hundred septims, then buy the whole stack back for one.
This was a major complaint (both the insanely stuffed wallets and not being able to sell things properly, go figure), and an attempt was made to solve it in Oblivion. Still not quite perfect, but at least more realistic. Early in the game, quality armour, weapons, spells, potions, etc. are very expensive when you might only have a few hundred Septims to spend, and are also difficult to find (dungeon crawls are usually required to find anything of value). This completely changes later in the game, though, when all the best items can be easily found due to the game's global levelling system, and said items can also be sold for thousands. Even though the game contains money sinks like purchasable houses and item enchanting, it's still easy to wind up richer than the Emperor himself.
Also, with decent skills it was possible in Morrowind to buy items for less than you sold them for at normal merchants, so it really was money for nothing.
A quick summary: most of the game's more expensive Vendor Trash is worth anywhere between 10,000 and 500,000 gold. The most that any vendor actually has to pay you for it is 10,000.
It's actually possible to create your own money sink through a glitch that can net you infinite levels. If you have an enchantment that boosts one of your stats past 100, say Endurance, and you have one of its governed skills at 100, like Heavy Armor, you can pay the master trainer of that skill to train that skill infinitely. It won't rise above 100, but after 10 training sessions, you will be able to level up. This can potentially cost very large amount of gold.
Additionally, this can also be rather easy to do in later stages of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as well, especially if one completes the Stones of Barenziah quest, which gives an added perk in the form of finding at least two precious gems in every chest or urn checked. In one dungeon crawl, the player can stack 10,000 gold in gems.
At least in these games player housing becomes an option for adventurers wanting to spend their vast amounts of money acquired in game.
Bioware's Mass Effect 1 is a prime example of this. Due to the large-but-limited nature of the player's inventory, by the time the limit is approached, it rapidly becomes apparent that the only thing to do with your excess (useless) items is to dump them for the Applied Phlebotinum that was the aptly-named Omni-Gel...or sell it all. Since a level 1 suit of threadbare cotton armor turns into exactly as much Omni-Gel as a level 50 BFG, vendors often ended up buying all the player's trash. Which promptly leaves the player sitting near the end of the game with multiple millions of credits and the most expensive items rarely topping 300,000.
Even if you sell very few items (instead turning most of them into Omni-Gel), it's extremely unlikely to not have maximum credits by the end of the game unless you deliberately go out of your way to buy things. With the New Game+ nature of the game, subsequent plays through the game are even worse because there's even less need to spend money.
And other than the spectre master weapons (which incidentally you unlock by collecting a million credits) and some cheap upgrades to your medigel and grenade capacity, there really isn't anything you can buy that isn't found by the dozens in every enemy base.
The exceptions here are armor - especially non-human armor. Getting your hands on a good suit of krogan, turian, or especially quarian armor requires visiting a lot of different vendors and hoping you get lucky, because non-human armor drops very rarely. Quarian armor of any type is almost impossible to find, so don't be surprised if Tali is running around in her basic outfit for half of the game.
Lampshaded in the Bring Down The Sky DLC, which has a high end suit of Human or Quarian armor as a guaranteed quest reward. Choosing the Quarian set has Shepard comment on how rare the stuff is.
Only three vendors in the entire game actually offer a specific list of non-human armor: the hanar merchant on the Presidium, Morlan in the Wards Markets, and the hanar merchant in the plaza on Noveria. 90% of that armor will be krogan or turian, and more than half of that will be lower-level armor that's no good compared with what you've got. Sometimes they'll be packing some incredibly good armor, though, like Colossus or Mantis suits.
When your inventory is full, you can either sell it or turn it to omni-gel...what are you going to use the gel on? The hacking/decrypting minigame is so easy and Mako repair function so seldom used thanks to regenerating shields that the money is all you really need. And not for that long, as pointed out above.
Mass Effect 2 averts this when it comes to credits. The game has almost no corpse looting, and it carefully controls how much credits and other stuff you can gain on each mission. As a result, even if you track down and complete every side mission, it's impossible to buy everything in the stores on your first playthrough. However, it plays it straight when it comes to resources. You can mine them from any planet in the game, and if you're thorough about it, you quickly end up with far more resources than you could ever use. And you can't sell them, so they just sit around making big numbers on the resource counters.
Perhaps the worst is element zero. Because it's supposed to be highly rare and valuable, the quantity of eezo recovered from planet-scanning and resource nodes in missions is about a quarter that of the other resources, and the costs of eezo-based upgrades are likewise lower. However, the amount of eezo you get from bonuses is not adjusted, meaning a player with a Long Service Bonus (complete the game twice, or with a character who also beat the original) gets 50,000 units of element zero right at the start, more then they could ever need.
Mass Effect 3 at least did something to make all those extra stockpiles of resources from Mass Effect 2 not completely useless: importing a save from Mass Effect 2 that has a lot of resources in it gives the player a big boost to their starting war assets from stockpiled upgrade materials being used to strengthen Systems Alliance war readiness.
Some Final Fantasy games have an amusing use for all that extra Gil they're carting around; the Samurai job class traditionally has a skill called Gil Toss, which chucks it for large amounts of damage. Similar was the Yojimbo summon in Final Fantasy X, who does different attacks depending on how much of a payment you offer him.
Similar, Ninja job classes can usually throw any kind of weapon at the enemy, which can deal insane damage if you stock up on the best weapons available from stores. The Shuriken item is usually a more economical alternative, though.
Monster Rancher games may be one of the few aversions out there. Because you constantly have to spend money to feed your monster, you always need SOME money—and because you'll have to feed your monster lots of treats if you want to raise an especially powerful one, you'll be continuously spending cash on goodies. It is part Simulation Game, however...
In the first Gothic game, money is literally useless; the player will occasionally find coins while looting bodies or chests for items, but they have zero value. This is because the game is set in a prison colony, where a magical metal ore used for making weaponry is the new currency. The ore itself then suffers from version #2: since traders have limited ore to swap for your Vendor Trash, players frequently find themselves owning all the money in the world by the time of the final Boss Battle...
In Gothic II, two characters hung a lampshade on this: Diego has you get his gold bag from the colony, asking you "Was I the only one who kept some gold on the side, just in case we got out of there?". The Expansion Pack gives us Cavalorn, who wants his bag (yes, money bags are EVERYWHERE around there) with a piece of ore back, stating he "didn't know the ore was worth so much out here."
The Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series do this. Baldur's Gate II is particularly striking as you can end the game with several million gold pieces.
Planescape: Torment gets in on it as well. You may spend the early parts of the game scraping all the money together you can for upgrades like new tattoos, new spells (for mages), and better weapons - and, if you're not talking your way past everything and the RNG hates you, healing items - but eventually you will be sitting on quite the pile of copper coins. The best stuff is found, not bought, and adding that succubus cleric to your party will dramatically lower your healing expenses. You can steal items from vendors but it's almost pointless, and your thief's skill points are better put towards stealth for backstabs rather than stealing.
Because your parents are constantly showering you, you should have enough money by the end of EarthBound to retire. You even get to buy a useless, run-down old building for a fortune (which is easy enough to obtain) with nothing but a story cameo inside! Also, the last store in the game provides you with some things actually worth purchasing, including normally difficult to obtain MP-restoring items. The limitation is more how much you can fit in your storage area (because the store is Lost Forever) than whether or not you can afford it all.
Too Human ends up being this way in the end, though it's more useful in the early and mid game. At the end game, money is generally only good for occasionally buying runes, repairing your gear, manufacturing the occasional item from blueprints, or very rarely buying elite items when they show up at the shops. Even these things can't keep up with the massive influx of money gained from downed enemies, broken containers, and salvaged gear. At level 50, players can make a million or more from a single run through of a level. Money has become so devalued that the online trading communities for the game operate much like Diablo II in that it's a fully barter oriented economy and few people accept money.
Neverwinter Nights 2 gives you a stronghold to fix up midway through the game, which acts as an effective Money Sink. Once the stronghold is finished, however, it is still likely to fall victim to this trope.
The stronghold also was a *huge* moneysink, and gave you only marginal bonuses in the siege battle against it. If you couldn't defeat the waves of enemies on your own(without buffing up the stronghold), there was no way you were going to be able to handle the part right afterwards where the difficulty is dialed up to 11. Part of this was the self-defeating philosophy of allowing success to be possible for those who didn't choose to spend money into the stronghold, which eliminated the whole point for those who did choose to do so. Part of the problem is that huge length of time that spans between your acquisition of it and the actual siege battle of it. By that point in time, forcing players to go back and choose a different strategy would effectively be forcing them to replay the whole game.
Knights of the Old Republic avoids this quite neatly (especially in the PC vesion), with several unique items only available from certain shops, until you go off to destroy or capture the Star Forge, at which point there are no more shops. However, the sequel suffers quite badly- anything that's worth having is either likely to drop, only available as a drop (sometimes unique, but not always; I've had two of the legendary Circlet of Saresh...) or craftable. Also, if the player is male (or has a mod to get the handmaiden as a female) there is a rather well known infinite money loop.
All of the Ultima games have this to varying degrees.
The first trilogy follows the basic example of endgame wealth, where once you've fully equipped yourself with the best items the shops have to offer, the only thing left to spend money on is food.
In Ultima III: Exodus you could make quick starter cash by creating endless extra characters, selling their gear and then deleting them. This goes even further - you could give blood ingame, getting a set amount of gold for every 10hp, REALLY stretching those throw-away characters for all they're worth.
IV through VII are almost an inversion of the trope. The money's usually pretty tight throughout the game—especially if you have a spellcaster-heavy party—and unless you scour the land for things to equip or sell (or use other methods of duplicating money) that won't affect your Karma rating in the taking, you'll pretty much break even until the final dungeons where it doesn't matter any more.
VIII and especially IX fully embrace the trope from the get-go. There's precious little to spend your money on, as you can fully equip yourself with badass gear practically from the start once you know where it is (there's a stiff penalty for stealing in VIII that can be circumvented if you're sneaky enough, but the running joke for IX is that Kleptomania is the Ninth Virtue as you can grab literally anything not nailed down and even a few things that are). In the case of IX, you can only carry a maximum of 9999 gold. Anything you sell to a merchant that exceeds this total will be dumped at your feet as a pile of gold when the transaction ends.
Then there's Savage Empire, one of the Worlds of Ultima games, in which money is pretty much useless from the get-go. Almost everything you need, you can either steal (and nobody cares if you do), make yourself, or acquire by bartering easily-farmed items like yucca flax and parrot feathers. Plus, in certain parts of the world, you can find diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and gold, which are utterly pointless (well, except for the emeralds, which you can exchange for fruit at a "vending machine" in the underground Kotl city, but by that point you probably won't need the extra food anyway).
Fable I uses an accurate barter system where shopkeepers will offer high prices for things in demand (i.e. they've run out of stock for) and low prices for things they have a surplus of. Sadly, since you can buy your entire stock of an item in a single transaction at one of the extremes, money can be quickly farmed by selling all your stock in a single item, then buying it all back at less than you sold it for. Plus, you get Skill XP into the bargain too!
Fable II is actually really good about averting this trope, at least until you figure out how to abuse the system. Every building in the game can be purchased, and there's a total of almost three million gold worth of real estate. The problem is that purchasing a property allows you to rent it out (or in the case of shops, just make a profit off of it), giving you a small sum for each building. In addition, if you don't play the game for a few days, when you load it back up, you'll get about half as much gold as you would have in the same amount of time actually playing the game. Abusing this system allows the player to easily earn 10,000 gold every five minutes with some cash grinding. By the time you reach the end of the game and can purchase the last piece of real estate in the game for a cool million, using this trick, it will take about an hour to get the cash together, tops. One XBox Achievement is available for this (the Ruler of Albion), for holding more than two and a half million gold in real estate, which is pretty much every building in the game world.
Abusing the game's real estate system within itself makes this even simpler: after purchasing a piece of real estate, raising the rent 100% doubles the amount earned. You can then disconnect from XBOX Live, push the internal clock forward a year, reap the cash, and purchase more property, repeating the process until you're able to purchase every property in the game, within about an hour. Raising or lowering the rent/prices impact your purity and the NPCs' opinions of you as well. Pure evil playthroughs become much easier when NPCs love you enough to forgive just about any action.
However, selling weapons and, early on, gems and jewelry to merchants in Fairfax Gardens ends up being a ridiculously easy way to make money if you'll tolerate loading screens, since traveling requires so much in-game time that many shops will restock between your trips and Fairfax's economy is so good that you can buy almost any good even at shortage prices and still turn a profit by selling it there.
Money is fairly plentiful in the RPG Skies of Arcadia (which, given most of your party are pirates, makes a certain amount of sense), to the point that it's recommended you use healing potions in battle instead of healing magic. Most players, even buying the best weapons and armour along the way, will have enough money late in the game to spend hundreds of thousands of gold on their new pirate base without having to grind for it.
In Dragon Warrior III, the party system worked by having you to go into a tavern in the first city and generate three characters of whichever class you wanted. If you wished to try adventuring with a different group, you could put your current group in "storage" and make a new one. The Soldier class always generates wearing leather armor that sells for 112 G and carrying a club that sells for 22 G. So, you could put your current group away, make three soldiers, sell their equipment for 134 G, store 'em, and make three more...over and over until you got sick of it.
Unfortunately there is a game breaking bug related that caused this to royally screw up your game — The game was not designed to have hundreds of characters added and deleted from the registry, doing so will cause them to start overwriting other important data in memory. Overuse will cause your characters to randomly gain/lose magic, your original party characters would be randomly deleted or corrupted, your characters would randomly change level, etc.
The Bard's Tale Trilogy let you get away with the above method to your heart's content. Roll up as many dummy characters as you want, add them to the party, transfer starting gold and delete. Lather, rinse, repeat. The 'starter' parties that each game came with even had a few magic items in their inventory which could be muled over to a custom party and, being a PC game, their data files copied and refreshed at any time.
Wizardry also let you create a bunch of junk characters and they will all start with 100 gold or so. Add them to your party, take the gold, remove them and delete. This was infinitely faster than going out to grind to get the gold for decent equipment at the start.
Gold is plentiful, but there's few places to spend it at and little you really need to buy. There are very few NPCs who sell stuff in the whole game.
Admittedly, late in the game you will run into characters who do sell very good equipment for prices that will finally challenge your bank accounts (which should contain several million GP by that point). Still, throughout most of the game gold isn't much use.
The Fallout series of games fall prey to this trope as well.
In Fallout 1, even a character with middling Barter skill could sell items to shopkeepers at higher prices than the shopkeepers' prices. With repeated buying and selling attempts, you could take literally everything any shopkeeper owned peacefully. It was a real Game Breaker, and was nerfed by the first patch — traders no longer sell cheaper than they buy.
Other Fallout games jacked up the prices of shopkeepers, but it's still very possible to steal items from their shop or kill them and take everything. The only things you can attain exclusively through spending caps are the room themes for your residence in Fallout 3.
Another way to gain wealth in Fallout 1: roll up a character with high luck and a reasonable amount of skill in gambling. Hit a casino and play the slots. Hold down the keys for "place bet" and "play again" until you've accrued hundreds of thousands of caps.
But why even bother to do these things? Just grab everything you come across, sell it, and if the shopkeeper runs out of money, buy weightless items!
In Fallout 3, at higher levels, if you limit yourself to a handful of weapons, you could theoretically make thousands of caps off of ammo you get from killing raiders, super mutants, and Enclave soldiers.
Fallout: New Vegas continues this tradition. Selling items that you don't need to traders (along with having a high Barter skill) is still a great way of earning caps. The Jury Rigging perk is also useful in this regard, as it allows you to repair weapons and armor that are in the same "class"; therefore, you could repair an expensive piece of equipment (a Super Sledge) with something cheap (a baseball bat), and sell it for a massive profit.
The Gun Runners Arsenal DLC subverts this trope by adding a large number of unique weapons that can only be bought from merchants (previously, unique weapons were found while exploring. The lone exception to this rule could be stolen by picking a locked door while the shopkeeper was away). Many of these weapons are truly unique, rather than boosted versions of normal weapons (for example, Sleepytime is the only 10mm submachine gun that will accept a silencer, Two-Step Goodbye is a Ballistic Fist with a rocket launcher instead of a shotgun on it, and the Bozar is the only Light Machine Gun with magnifying optics), and all of them are expensive, typically costing upwards of 20,000 caps (for comparison, that's five times what the implants that give you a permanent stat increase cost). Of course, if you managed to steal the entire supply of gold bricks from Dead Money, you can more than pay for the entire set without spending a single actual cap.
In the old PC game World of Aden: Thunderscape, there are only 2 shops in the game. Despite this a character with over 100 merchant skill can buy low and sell high to clean out both shops.
In the Pokémon games, your money won't become useless (since the most useful items in the game are either only found in limited numbers during gameplay or are bought in shops for a nice sum of money or in casino for coins you can get with money), but since you earn money every time you defeat a trainer, and you defeat a lot of trainers during the course of the game, you'll end up hitting the maximum of 999,999P after you've been training your Pokémon for a while and are unlikely to ever buy enough items to run out of money. In Pokémon Platinum, you are given a villa once you reach a certain location whose only purpose is letting you waste money buying crazily expensive furniture for it (which does not do anything useful) and once you earn entrance to the Ribbon Society you can buy some extremely expensive ribbons (one of which cost as much money as you can possibly have) for the Bragging Rights Reward.
Averted if you EV train though. You'll end up spending all your money on Vitamins VERY frequently.
X and Y give you clothes shops so you can spend money by the thousands, and offers you to burn money by the hundreds of thousands in exchange for battles in the Battle Maison and the Lumiose restaurants. Of course, you can make up all the money you spent and then a few thousands more by winning all the battles in those areas, so...
Lunar: Silver Star Story has a weird version of this. The enemies in the final dungeon drop truly huge amounts of money, and it's not uncommon to end the area with over 200,000 silver. The problem is not that you don't have a use for the money (though you do get free healing items at that point), but that you can't leave the dungeon to spend any of it.
Lunar: Dragon Song shows that inverting this trope isn't necessarily a good thing, with the only way to earn money being to sell items (which you have to grind for) or performing sidequests (frequently of the Twenty Bear Asses variety, which means more grinding for items.) Unless you really enjoy grinding (made especially annoying by the fact that you have to specifically grind for items and nothing else, not even XP,) you probably won't have the patience to amass even a comfortable sum.
FPS/RPG Borderlands gets there by the end of the New Game+. You'll have much more money than the $10 million "maximum" displayed, but even the most expensive gun won't cost more than $4-5 million. And most of the really good stuff comes from random drops anyway.
The PC Version has achievements for acumulating money. The highest achievement is actually called: "How much for the planet?"
The Armory of General Knoxx Expansion Pack takes this Up to Eleven along with its advertised level cap increase. There will be actual items for sale with a price higher than the display cap. You will buy them, just to see if you can. And chances are, you'll still have more money than the game can show.
One thing to use up all that money is to deliberately get killed just to see how much the New-U station charges to rebuild your build. Try jumping across sections of map, or daredevil feats in one of the vehicles for more fun.
At low levels in Mafia Wars, cash is incredibly valuable because you need it to buy items used for jobs, and the jobs themselves don't pay out enough to get everything you need. However, once you start buying businesses and receiving regular income from them, you can enter a cycle of exponential cash growth that rapidly outpaces any demands the game makes on you. It's not uncommon to have billions in the bank by mid levels, and there's absolutely nothing to spend it on.
Farmville, another Zynga Facebook game, has this issue as well. At early levels, you need every coin you can scrape together to upgrade your farm and plant crops. At a certain point, though, your farm economy is booming, you start running out of functional things to buy from the Market, and the most useful items can only be bought with Farm Cash anyway. Of course, because purchased items grant Experience Points, you can always spend every million coins you get on a new Villa for an instant level-up.
There is a level cap however (70), and after about level 35 XP stops to make much difference. Also, with the biggest farm on full production you'll be raking in the XP by the hundreds (highest level is 330.000 XP).
Having enough money to buy stuff effectively becomes moot in Chrono Trigger after the Ocean Palace since the only armor upgrades available after that are found in chests or subquests, and money doesn't carry over in the New Game+.
In Valkyria Chronicles, you're rewarded for successfully completing missions and skirmishes in two ways: experience, and ducats (money). Experience is spent to level up your troops and learn new orders, while ducats are spent to research new weapon upgrades and unlock new content. The thing is, most missions and skirmishes award more ducats than experience, and while you'll always have something to spend experience on (since you can always level your troops, and it takes a lot of XP to get them up to max level), there are only a finite number of upgrades and unlockables to purchase at any given moment. Thus, you're likely to find yourself up to your eyeballs in unspendable ducats by the mid-game, particularly if you play a lot of skirmishes for Level Grinding.
In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, you'll usually end up with more money than you really need, especially if you only use weapons and armor geared towards Might, Finesse, or Sorcery (which means selling a lot of equipment you don't use), and if you invest in the Detect Hidden skill early on (which increases the amount of gold found).
In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, if your character does not rely heavily on firearms, you will almost certainly end up with much more money than you can reasonably hope to spend. If your character does rely heavily on firearms, then you will constantly be spending money on ammunition, and this will act as a huge Money Sink.
Suikoden Tierkreis has a trading system that allows you to, in defiance of RPG convention, make money carrying items between towns. However, since there's no time limit and travel requires very little effort, this means you have an endless fountain of money as soon as you have two places you can move between freely.
Professor Layton's London Life, the sprite-inhabited RPG packaged with some versions of Professor Layton and the Last Specter, falls into this trope after a while. Early in the game, you need to earn money, both because holding a job is a necessary step in the plot and because some of the objects required by fetch quests have to be purchased from merchants. Eventually, though, you'll pile up the cash by the thousands, and unless you feel like saving up for the Golden Gloves (which cost just shy of a million gold coins), you'll run out of things to buy with it.
The PC game Secrets of da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript has what can be regarded as a literal example of Money for Nothing. During your exploration of da Vinci's bedroom in the manor, you can find the tools and raw gold needed to mint gold coins, and you can go to the smithy any time you want to perform the steps to make them. However, you can only spend gold coins by purchasing items from the caretaker, Saturnin, and the game starts you off with enough coins to purchase the only required items - and you have the opportunity to steal those items later when he's not around!
A lot of Shin Megami Tensei games eventually fall into this, with some minor variation. Persona 3 and Persona 4 generally limit or slow down grinding for money and loot, and have the Persona Compendium as a huge money sink (among others). Persona 3 Portable brings it back into line again as party members no longer get tired and leave the party, meaning you can spend hours in Tartarus any night combing the place for money and loot since every floor has at least 2 treasure chests with random items or cash, which reloads every time you visit the floor.
Tales of Symphonia makes an effort to avert this for much of the game, making equipment prohibitively expensive and encouraging Item Crafting to get the equipment you can't afford. You'll eventually reach a point, though, where you'll start amassing a small fortune without even trying, while money becomes less and less of an issue (and of course, the best equipment has to be found instead of bought.)
Ys I once you reach the Tower of Darm, where you can easily earn so much money that you hit the money cap and have absolutely nowhere to spend it.
Tiny Tower has the problem of requiring both coins and "bux". Bux is rarely earned and is used for most everything in the game, coins are gained from your businesses and are really only used for expanding the tower. Chances are the coins you earn turn into this trope.
In Rune Factory, as mining in the caves can earn you millions of gold within a few days, where the only things to spend money on are 1000-gold minor upgrades to your house, a major upgrade costing 200000 gold, and seeds that generally cost a few hundred. And cooking ingredients, also costing a few hundred gold each. This was probably some kind of mistake, as Rune Factory 2 avoids it.
In Rune Factory 2 you can do this as well through farming. In the first generation, take 2 monsters to water crops, 2 to harvest crops. Build the monsters to max friendship. In the second generation, clear the field and plant regrowing crops (plus grass to feed said monsters). Watch the money roll in with no effort (except occasionally chopping the grass and changing crops for the seasons). By mid-Summer, having over 200000 gold is pretty normal.
Also, Item Crafting and high quality milk or fleece is a good way to make money. Maximum friendliness Buffamoos and Woolies, especially in Rune Factory 3 give high quality produce which sells for a lot of cash (and is produced daily in the latter game).
Tylium in Battlestar Galactica Online. Very little good stuff is actually bought with it, instead bought with cubits. And with the exception of water, everything is sold for Tylium. It's not unheard of that someone has bought all Tylium ships in game, bulk (As in 100,000 or more) ammo, and mines with ammo regularly, and still has a massive stockpile of Tylium. This multiplies heavily when you are high level and are with a squad.
The X-Universe series actually manages to avoid this until the late game, at which point your trade empire typically makes money way faster than you can possibly spend, and you can manufacture almost every item and ship you need for further expansion in-house anyway (the only things you can't actually build is stations and ship upgrades).
In My Little Pony by Gameloft, once you get your economy rolling, your shops can make Bits by the tens of thousands daily, and you can get 20-50 hearts a day should you have enough friends, but you can get at most 2-5 gems per day. After you get to a certain point, there is literally nothing to spend bits on except decorations or miniscule bonuses in one of the minigames. Nothing to spend hearts on except a gambling minigame that has a small chance of giving you gems, and everything costs gems.
Hot Shots Golf has a pro shop with about a couple thousand dollars worth of merchandise. Once you've bought it all, there's nothing else to spend your money on. Seriously, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, not even a token Money Sink or periodic charge. Even better, you don't even need to buy some of those items because you get them as tournament prizes.
Stealth Based Game
Assassin's Creed II toys with this in a weird way: When the game begins, Ezio is Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense, regularly emptying his wallet on booze and whores. (He'd never call that a waste!) Of course, you jumped into his life less than a day before it went to hell; the local magistrate frames and executes his family, for which he ends up as Ezio's first assassination. After that He Can't Go Home Again, eventually settling in a broken-down slum. Here's the weird part; keep up that behavior and you'll spend the rest of the game — and the next two decades of his life — in Perpetual Poverty. Invest in turning that slum into something respectable, and you'll soon have cash coming out of your ears. Even worse is that if you spend all of your villa income on upgrading the villa (and there aren't that many upgrades) you'll just earn money at an almost exponential rate. Compared to the pitiful loot you get off of treasure chests (which do add up over time) and pickpocketing, proper villa management can make any player stinking rich before even the halfway point of the game, without even bothering with the many side missions.
In the early part of the game (up to the final confrontation with Vieri), Ezio is constantly under the gun, and he's far too preoccupied with survival to worry about niceties like getting out of grinding poverty. Once the villa starts earning income, however, everything completely opens up, and anyone who's any good at all at the game will see money flowing in like water. There's 8,000 florins worth of statuettes right in the villa, literally hundreds of treasure chests and treasure gondolas scattered everywhere, assassination contracts, races, beat-up events, message delivery, numerous side missions, and of course looting bodies and completing objectives, all of which brings in cash. Heck, the only time you ever need to pickpocket are the three times in the game it's required.
The same principle applies to Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, only collectibles don't add to your income, and the value of renovations isn't quite as large. This merely delays the point at which you have over a hundred thousand florins to burn, with more in the bank, and nothing useful to spend it on.
It is toned down drastically, however. Three things: 1. Constantinople is much less prosperous than Rome; you have to spend more to build up its earning potential. 2. The payoffs are a lot smaller, particularly the treasure chests, nearly all of which contain no money, only bomb parts. (You can sell these, but there's only one place that takes them, so it's easy to max out.) 3. There are a lot more demands on your resources, particularly the city-restoration missions in Mediterranean Defense.
Revelations and Brotherhood are a particularly strong example of this when it comes to essential items and equipment (medicine, throwing knives, bullets etc...). You can play through either of these games without having to ever visit a doctor thanks to the fact that the city guards are loaded with refills, only requiring you to loot a few corpses to max out your inventory. About the only equipment you need to restock on are parachutes, about only thing city guards don't seem to be carrying.
Assassin's Creed III tries to rectify this by forcing you to go through side quests in order to "upgrade" the Homestead. Also, the various businesses and craftsmen won't just give you money. However, after you pay them to craft something (as long as resources are available), you can sell the stuff in Boston or New York for a tidy sum. Rinse and repeat. Sure, trade caravans (both land and sea) can be attacked, but you can ensure their safety. Also, the best weapons are not bought but crafted (except for Captain Kidd's sword, which is only available in a DLC), and only after you find their blueprints in chests.
The biggest moneymakers by far are pelts and hides, which all animals have, require NO expenditure or crafting, and are worth astounding sums of cash. Most animals also have things like fangs or antlers which can bring in even more money.
The only thing money is good for in the Flash game Papa's Pizzeria is raising your character's level, which adds another customer to your limited clientele. In two of its sequels, Papa's Burgeria and Papa's Taco Mia, they have a few things to buy in the shop but once they're gone, you can easily find yourself amassing several thousand utterly useless dollars. Later games have a much wider variety of merchandise, from equipment upgrades to restaurant decor to clothing and accessories for prettying up your character.
Turn Based Strategy
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance uses a similar variant to FFX. There are only two reasons why anyone would find themselves wanting for Gil in this game: going for the Disc One Nukenote doing the only missions in the game that cost more to accept than you get from completing them around seventy or eighty times over, feeding captured monstersnote how much money you throw at this task pretty much determines how good Morphers are, and (rarely) getting an item to teach a skill quickly.
Meanwhile, in the parent series (Final Fantasy Tactics), enough Level Grinding will give you more money than the entire GDP of Ivalice as early as Chapter One (if you're THAT obsessed about levelling up). Otherwise, you're on a very tight budget until about Chapter Three or so.
Gil in A2 likewise loses most of its use about midway into the game, because using disposable items for anyone but an Alchemist means halving your available skills and with equipment you'll earn enough money long before you get the right loot to buy them with (especially since the best items require loot for every one of the item you get instead of just the first).
Fire Emblem treads closer into Money For Nothing territory the easier each game generally is (higher difficulty settings notwithstanding). In the more difficult entries, they gradually let you acquire plenty of Gold to get you through to the end of the game, but not nearly enough to give you limitless resources, forcing you to prioritze what equipment to buy when. When this is not the case, however...
The Sacred Stones is not as stingy with gold as the other GBA games, though you can't quite exploit the random skirmish battles for money at first either, since random gold drops start out giving the equivalent of pocket change. Upon beating the game and beginning the post-game, this changes and you have as much money as you want to grind for.
Path of Radiance: The first 2/3rds of the game leave you increasingly less wanting for money until it's almost a non-issue, and then post-Chapter 19, your army uncovers a shed of enemy supplies with 120,000 gold just lying around! 50k of that is spent in-story to faciliate a Wham Episode, but the remaining 70k is all yours to blow. After that, you're loaded for the rest of the game. The justification for this is to give you plenty of gold to spend on the new weapon-forging system, which is not necessary to complete the game, so you're welcome to ignore it and spend the balance of the game swimming in that money.
Shadow Dragon and its sequel New Mystery of the Emblem are equally happy to leave you flush with cash for almost the duration. But, at the very end of both games, there's a comically huge incentive to stockpile as much gold as you can: There are secret shops hidden in the penultimate chapters, each selling 3 of every permanent stat-boosting item available. On account of the timing - there's nothing else to do with that money after all - you're encouraged to go broke buying up all those stat boosts and use them to make quicker work of the final chapters.
Awakening plays it straightest on Normal mode, where those random skirmishes drop gold in increments of 1000-2000 per drop, and the item that can spawn skirmishes at will only costs a mere 500. Said item is jacked up to 4800 gold on Hard and Lunatic modes so you can't turn a profit as easily. Regardless, the game is almost as cash-happy as the above two entries, and if that's still not enough for you, there's the relatively easy DLC map that contains mountains of gold and can be played again and again to rake it in by the tens of thousands. Resources in this game are bottomless.
Like every other trope they touch, Nippon Ichi takes this trope and runs with it. In the Disgaea series of games, for example, the money limit is listed in the quintillions, and the battles in the post storyline content just give up counting the money you earn, replacing the numbers with "Super!" — and that's before you add in any bonuses to money you get from your gear. After beating the game this money is absolutely worthless, as your gear is not going to come from the store, but rather by stealing it from random NPCs in the random dungeons.
This can happen even before the end of the game due to the item levelup system — a rank 20 level 1 sword might have 1000 attack, a Rank 25 level 1 sword might have 1200, but a rank 20 level 10 or level 20 sword is going to have 2000 or more. Your ultimate weapons are going to be level 200 rank 40 items, which can only be gotten inside the random dungeons inside of legendary rank 39 weapons, which can only be gotten by stealing them from characters inside of rank 30+ weapons. Confused yet?
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has you spending money on (generally found for free) room items and summoning units. Making your main unit contain all of the hero characters greatly reduces the need for both, which when combined with a little room leveling can quickly make your money counter stuck at "too much" about halfway through your first playthrough.
It seems NI realized how silly the levels of money were — in the PSP remakes of Both 1 and 2 you can buy music for quite a hefty price to play in the item world instead of the default one. The actual songs cost between 100K to one billion HL each.
A rather unfortunate case occurs in the Rome iteration of the Total War series, of all games. After the first fifty turns or so, money tends to be no longer any problem. Viewing the graphs of civilisation-wealth over time shows player wealth as a straight line up, while all AI lines were almost horizontal on that scale. Combine this with the low cost of bribing enemy armies out of the way, and combat can become not just unneccesary, but actually more expensive. Even worse, when playing as one of the Roman fractions, bribing other Roman armies seems to add them to your army instead of merely disbanding them. Medival 2 fixed this (perhaps a bit too well).
Total War: Empire had a similar problem after you had conquered most of the world, allowing you to field massive armies filled with high-end units. However after a patch it adjusted the upkeep of all the units meaning Empires that once had more money than they could burn suddenly became bankrupt over night.
Shogun 2 and its expansions both break and continue the tradition, depending on the player. A poorly managed economy means that the player will rarely have enough cash to invest in their provinces or field powerful armies. A well managed one tends to snowball, to the point that the entire armies consist of elite unites without so much as denting your income.
In the Civil War strategy game No Greater Glory, the Union would often run into this, as even after paying for all the troops you can raise, purchasing all the military supplies available, spending as much on infrastructure as possible, buying as many ships of every type available, you would still have spent less than you had raised in taxes and borrowing, especially since you could not stop borrowing, or even reduce interest rates below five percent. As a result, as the game progressed, the Union player would often find himself with an enormous treasury, but nothing to spend it on. The Confederacy, however, would never have enough money, barring possibly European aid.
Turn Based Tactics
The extremely classic X-COM strategy game is weird, as is its photocopied sequel. The eponymous anti-alien group receives nowhere near enough funding, but once it succeeds in some missions it's suddenly the sole purveyor of alien technology, both surplus items and straightforward Vendor Trash. A reasonable starting investment can literally give money for free by manufacturing ultra-tech items for profit in bulk. Despite an economy that is either meager or wrecked, the game is still considered a good one for several reasons:
It averts an Obvious Rule Patch where the situation begs for one. "So, I have the only company in the planet to build anti-gravity vehicles and I can't produce them for profit 'just because?'"
The game is a genre hybrid. The meat is in squad-level combat surrounded by strategic resource management, and the combat likes to kick you in the teeth to the extent that all soldiers are fragile and a force that wishes to survive fields fairly high-level gear in the first place.
The strongest equipment requires the Applied Phlebotinum Elerium, which can only be taken from the aliens' hands and is not subject to breakage.
The funding nations expect value for their money and for allowing an independent military organization to run around in their territory with fusion warheads. They can't be ignored no matter how big cash surplus is.
Selling alien corpses are also a good way to raise funds.
The unliked Interceptor actually turned this habit on you, by having pirates which started operating with alien tech bought off the black market, clearly indicating it was the tech you sold.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Once you manage to get satellites over the majority of funding nations, you will be rolling in money. The bottleneck becomes Alien Alloys, Elerium and Weapon Fragments, all of which need to be taken from aliens.
In Grand Theft Auto III, the millions of dollars the player earns by completing the harder story missions and sidequests are essentially useless. Visiting the pay-and-spray is quite cheap ($1,000), and weapons and ammo are similarly inexpensive, not to mention available by exploring the environment. The game tries to make up for this by requiring the player to pay large sums of money at two points during the main story, but by the time they achieve 100% Completion, most players are walking around with one or two million dollars and with nothing to spend it on.
This also applies to later games in the series, but to significantly lesser extents, largely because of the introduction of purchasable savehouses.
In Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, not only it is ridiculously easy to make huge amounts of money dealing drugs, but scratch tickets tend to pay out pretty reliably. Taken together with the relative cheapness of safe houses and easy-to-find red dumpsters full of firearms, this means that the player is generally sitting on a huge pile of useless cash. Even being wasted or busted carries only a mild cash penalty.
In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there is a mission that requires you to spend about $80,000 on an abandoned airstrip to proceed; however, it is about two thirds of the way into the game, so it's possible to complete.
Grand Theft Auto IV, features this trope in full-force. The series has done away with purchasable savehouses and businesses and has significantly toned-down the customization aspect from San Andreas. Pay N' Sprays have become far less useful and eating is no longer necessary. Consequently, the $500,000+ the player possesses by the end of the story is basically just for show (not to mention how despite this, Niko keeps bitching about how he needs the money before missions. One has to wonder the sheer size of Roman's debts...)
In an aversion of this, the character from The Lost And Damned is comparatively poor, and doesn't receive as much money from missions. Although you get a discount from the gang's gun dealer, you generally are much poorer than in the main game or Ballad.
Grand Theft Auto V was made with a conscious attempt at averting this, and it shows. Rarely will missions give you any kind of cash payout (although some side missions, such as street racing will give a [rather low] reward), and there are loads of things to spend money on. Clothes, vehicles, upgrades for said vehicles, guns and ammo, mods, properties.... Overall, money is relatively difficult to come by. This becomes even more challenging due to there being three characters, each with their own bank accounts and inventories. Then again, most of the stuff to buy is entirely optional.
Until you realize (or look up on the internet, more likely) that the stock-market altering assassination missions that become available sometime in the middle of the game can be saved up until the end when you have 20-40 million of starting capital. Then you can hit the 2 billion money cap on all characters simply by investing in the right companies while doing the missions.
Saints Row: The Third gives you money based on how many neighbourhoods you own. At the start, you struggle to buy ammo and armour up a single car. Forget about character upgrades. By the time the money starts rolling in, you have every upgrade you need and anything after that is either overkill or outright cheating.
Throughout the entire Saints Row series, you do earn realistic amounts of money but everything you can spend money on is insanely cheap. $10 for a grenade, $50 for a guided missile, $300 to fix up your ride after an encounter with a tank, $500 to repair and deliver the car you just drove off a cliff (itself unnecessary since fresh vehicles are free from your garage), $5000 to buy a store and $1000 for a full vehicle upgrade including a more powerful engine, ram bumpers, armour plating, nitrous and pearlescent paint. The only things with remotely realistic price points are fast food, new cars at Foreign Power (if you can't be bothered to drive around for 15 minutes and steal one) and some cribs. The six figure crib upgrade prices in the third game seem realistic until you realise what you are actually buying for that money is not just a new posh interior as in earlier games but the demolition of the entire building and construction of a hundred floor skyscraper in its place.
Rockstar's Bully features this. Money is the main reward of completing story missions, but there are very few things of importance on which to spend money. Ammo and certain items are purchasable, but they're so inexpensive they may as well be free. Truly important things like savehouses and fighting moves are acquired only by progressing through the story. The main thing to spend money on is the player's wardrobe, which is simply cosmetic and probably of little interest to players not aiming for 100% Completion.
In the 360 version if you do everything else in the game, and presuming you're not grinding the side missions that can be repeated (delivering papers, mowing lawns), then at the end you will only have about half the money you need in order to buy all the clothing. The only reason to buy it all is for an achievement. Thankfully you can use a cheat code to increase your money without disabling any achievements.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has similar issues — with every single humanoid enemy dropping firearms and ammunition, as well as most dropping food, medicine, and bandages, there weren't many reasons to visit shops other than to upgrade or replace armor. The Vendor Trash and high mission rewards didn't help things, nor did the grand total of three traders with the slightest potential for anything useful.
One the negativeMultiple Endings overrides all the others if you reach the end with enough money; a lot of people didn't even realize there were other bad endings you could get.
Most people play it with mods installed, many of which make the traders charge you much more and pay you much less as well as having to pay money for maintenance of your equipment and making items like extra ammo and med supplies not only much more valuable, but also a hell of a lot rarer. Play Oblivion Lost or similar mods on hard mode and you may find yourself struggling not to go broke.
In Call of Pripyat, merchants will only purchase equipment with durability above a certain level (which most ones you find are below), meaning just going through fights won't get you huge loads of money. Repairing them doesn't help, because equipment that damaged almost always costs more to repair than it sells for at—in fact, that's probably why the merchants don't want them.
Red Dead Redemption likewise features this trope. Ammunition is free from your safehouse and there are only a few additional safehouses to buy. Most guns are provided as you advance in the story or through sidequests and the few that you need to buy are generally limited only by unlocking the area where they're sold rather than not having the money to buy them. There are a wealth of horses you can buy, but the three best are found for free (and the first one is an early story mission) and can never be lost (if they die you just summon a new one for free). At the same time you get plenty of skins and animal parts to sell for significant sums of money. The developers clearly intended for buffalo to be viewed as a source of cash (you get a large amount for selling their pelts) weighed against being a limited resource that dies for good, but since they show up late in the game there's no need to kill them unless you really want to.
Video Game/Far Cry 3 runs into this. If you do the radio tower sidequests (and you have a very strong incentive, because the map is nearly useless without them), you start unlocking weapons in stores for free. Ammo isn't very expensive and you can get a fair amount of it from the environment. Plus, if you take the stealthy approach most of the time, you'll often be using your knife and a bow whose arrows can be reliably be recovered from bodies. Since your equipment upgrades are earned by hunting and skinning the local wildlife, there is little else to spend money on. Weapon modifications cost a few hundred dollars each, but that's about it for major expenses. This is compounded even more by a skill that lets Jason automatically loot enemies that die by a takedown: their pocket change adds up fast.
Non-video game examples:
This is in effect on the Axiom in Wall-E. The people living on the Axiom buy things from Buy N Large, which is in full control of the Small Secluded World and all the resources on it. Because the return flight to Earth was secretly cancelled, Buy N Large has nowhere to spend the money, so it is useless for them. (Absent Aliens is also in effect) The humans don't do any work, and Buy N Large's robots do all of the upkeep, so the entire economy is technically pointless. Apparently they only keep it around to maintain the facade that they will return to Earth someday.
In the gamebook series Lone Wolf, you can find Gold Crowns almost anywhere, and take any money you earn from one book to the next. However, besides staying at inns, replacing lost weapons, or buying items from passing vendors, you won't be spending all that much. You can hit your max of 50 gold Crowns before the end of the first book.
At least you get some use out of them. Kika, which you can get in a few places, is completely useless; it literally does nothing but take up space in your money pouch. (Well, there is one thing you can do with it...gamble for more Kika.) Let's not forget the Grey Star series, which had Nobles, which will prove handy a maximum of ONE time over the course of four adventures.
Voyage of the Moonstone, the first book in the New Grand Master series, takes it a step further. First you have the opportunity to get up to 50 Crowns selling artifacts (which have no other use) to a magician. Then, if you take the sea route to Bir Rabalou, you save the ship from disaster, whereupon the grateful captain rewards you with another 20 Crowns. Then you can pocket another 10 Crowns by getting a simple riddle correct. And THEN you receive 20 more Crowns as a prize for winning a gladiatorial fight. This, of course, on top of the 20-29 Crowns you start the adventure with. And this new Grand Master, like Lone Wolf, can only carry 50 Gold Crowns at any one time, and unlike Lone Wolf, he never stores anything.
Mydnight's Hero, the third book in the New Grand Master series, is even more blatant. Not only is Ren worthless, in two instances the book explicitly tells you that. Also, at one point Karvas is said to carry a currency called Torqs, which are usable only in the land you and he leave and never return to shortly after the start of the adventure.
The same is true in the Middle-Earth Quest gamebooks. In A Spy in Isengard, for example, it is possible to find 20 Númenórean gold pieces, which in theory are very valuable. Good luck ever finding a place to spend them. The simple fact is there will be very few occasions in any of the books to go shopping, and even when you do there will be very little available that is worth buying. To explain, there are no shops in Spy in Isengard, and the very few shops in the other books in the series all take silver coins, and no exchange rate is ever given. And those few shops generally do not have anything worth buying anyway.
A non-game example in Friendship Is Optimal. One of the characters, Lars, makes an immense amount of money from a deal where people upload to Equestria, but the money he makes becomes increasingly worthless as the economy collapses due to the number of people uploading, to the point where he eventually has nothing to spend it on and has no way of enjoying it, much to his frustration.
In the RPGA campaign, Living City, money served no purpose, and so was given out at ludicrous amounts. Such as, "Thank you for saving my kitten, here's 1,000 gold pieces." Instead, the real treasure was magic items. Which, as it turns out, was also given out hand over fist for the first few years of the campaign. This led to events where the only way to progress through certain encounters was to give up magic items. In one event, the Elitenote to use a World of Warcraft term, because it had triple normal hit points and armor class Dragon Turtle required a + 2 magic item from each player or else it would eat the ship you were on. The campaign also reined back the amount of treasure it gave out, the end result being that many events were not completable by new players who weren't lucky enough to have an older player at the table to give up multiple such items in order to allow the group to continue.
The RPGA Living Greyhawk campaign tried to subvert this by instituting a "Gold Cap" policy and accounting-style "Record Sheet" in year two. All possessions of a character had a gold piece value attached to it, and had to be accounted for on record sheets that had to be updated after every event. Treasure was automatically converted to a gold piece amount and split evenly among the party regardless of whether or not the players wanted an equal distribution. Then, the "Character Worth" could be allocated into equipment or magic items that the player had previously "unlocked" during game play. The overly complicated vague rule caused the Exodus of Year Two and led many players and former players to refer to the game as "Living Accounting" because updating the Character Worth and the Record Sheet often took as much time as playing the actual game events.
The Living Death RPGA campaign gave a character income for every event played, even though there was never anything to actually spend money on. Game affecting equipment was given to you either just before or (more often) just after your character needed it, and non-game affecting equipment (such as clothing or purely role playing descriptive items) was free.
d20 Modern has problems with unlimited Wealth (yes, it's capitalized). It doesn't measure money as money, but as a Wealth rating, which can go up and down over the course of the game.
You usually start with a Wealth rating of about 6, which is too low to buy anything useful. You'll probably buy a gun, some bullets, and then you're out of Wealth. Buying a car or house as a starting character is usually out of the question. Good thing you don't have to buy anything else, and naturally, there's no rules for rent, upkeep or anything else. Want bullets? Kill a bad guy and take theirs. Threw away a gun? Well, make sure you shot a bad guy and took theirs first! Want grenades? Likewise. Only characters who want to make things (like chemical weapons) really need to spend money, and there are abuses just for them. Some character concepts, like martial artists, need not spend any money at all!
To buy something, you have to make a Wealth check. The amount of Wealth lost is somewhat random. You might lose more money buying a car than a house. Once you reach a Wealth of 15, anything that costs less costs nothing at all. While virtually all guns cost over 15, you probably don't need to keep buying them.
Every level, you gain Wealth, as well as for adventuring rewards. If you bought the Profession skill, you gain obscene amounts of Wealth, just for sitting on your butt. (The game has no rules for jobs.)
"Wealth" rules exist for other games as well, such as REIGN, Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, and Exalted. In most games with this system, as with d20 Modern, the potential flaws of "unlimited" wealth for minor purchases but severely limited wealth for major purchases are acknowledged in the rules. It's an abstraction, one GMs need to keep under careful consideration. Yes, the rules may say you can buy a million candy bars in a million separate purchases without influencing your Wealth, but the GM is supposed to smack down any such ill-considered rules lawyering. These games also usually assume that when you gain this Wealth, you have a means in the background to support it - you're working at your job in the downtime, investments periodically pay out, whatever.
In REIGN, players often have access to their character's personal Wealth and their company's Treasure (often as officers of their company). Treasure 2 is equivalent to Wealth 6 (the most an individual can have until the money is so great it becomes impossible to individually manage), meaning as long as you're willing to dip your hands into the company pot, personal Wealth can rapidly become meaningless. As a result, the game has an optional rule to blow personal Wealth carousing, training, and on ill-advised investments in return for experience points.
This was also an issue in Dungeons & Dragons, depending on the DM. The player-characters would often end up returning from their adventures with all sorts of loot, which in theory should be very useful. The problem is that the players would often not have much interest in many of the things that one might expect people to want vast riches for. After all, the players derive no real benefit if their characters buy luxurious mansions, or ornate carriages, gourmet foods, or fine clothes. In theory, the characters may want such things, but the players want the excitement and challenge of going on quests. They don't want to strike it rich on one quest and retire; they want to go on the next adventure. So the only thing players ever really wanted to spend their money on was equipment, particularly magic items, that would be useful on future adventures. The dilemma that then faced the DM was, either allow the characters to buy magic items on the market, at which point they lose all sense of magic or wonder, or do not and invoke this trope.
Neo Pets has an on-site browser RPG called Neo Quest II. In the first two or three levels, the player will likely be always short of money for healing potions and inn rests — but after the healer joins the party, the money flowing in really has not many place to go — healing potions are only relevant in boss battles now, and buyable equipment is inferior to droppables. During the last two chapters the player typically would only buy max stacks of speed, slowing, and healing potions in preparation fo the final boss battle, and face the final boss filthy rich.
Many games on Facebook, IMVU and the like center on having friends give you special items to complete projects. If you don't have many friends, or have a great deal of projects, you'll end up being drastically behind on necessary materials...while the other goodies pile up uselessly. Either you can't make any use of them without the extra goodies, or else you can use them only on decorations or things not necessary to advance in the game.
In Mafia Wars, buying properties results in exponential money growth - so much so that you can make billions of dollars a day in rent on said properties. That said, it only applies to your current location - if you decide to take on the Bangkok missions, you start with only a pittance of money despite the fact that you're a trillionare back home. (There aren't any money exchanges in Mafia Wars. This has some of Truth in Television: Even large criminal empires have problems moving to new countries, partly because they can't get in banks with their stolen cash and ask for a exchange, and partly because the locals are already set up and very averse to competition.