"If there was no way for us to "destroy" Neopoints, inflation would be even worse than it is now. There would be so many Neopoints in the economy that they would practically be worthless. It would cost players more and more Neopoints to purchase things, because each Neopoint would have so little value. Could you imagine a Krawk Morphing Potion costing 150,000,000 NP? That's what it would possibly cost if all the Neopoints that have been created by Flash games and other areas of the site were never removed. For players who make their Neopoints by playing games to earn 1,000 NP at a time, it would seem like an impossible goal.
A desirable but expensive item commonly found in MMORPGs and some single player games. It often has no game play significance except to remove virtual money from the economy. Especially true of many intangible goods, like fees, tolls, and the like, because they can't be resold back into the economy.
Money sinks are important in many virtual economies as a method to control inflation. When currency is constantly being added to the economy from monster drops, quests, etc., if there weren't a method of getting rid of it for good, prices for player-traded goods and services would theoretically grow without limit. New players and those without large amounts of time to devote to acquiring money would be unable to compete. Hence, as a game goes on, developers will often introduce more and more expensive ways for players to dispose of excess cash. It also saves your money from becoming useless once you have bought everything there is to buy.
Exists almost solely to avert Money for Nothing
- In World of Warcraft, training, mounts, non-combat pets, repair bills, flight paths, vendor-bought reagents, and the Auction House cut are explicitly designed to be money-sinks; each expansion (and many content patches) has added more. The developers further encourage this through the Achievement system, which awards points for completing non-game play related goals such as acquiring rare and/or expensive items. Some crafted and purchased mounts in Wrath of the Lich King run into the tens of thousands of gold.
- Recently released in Cataclysm, there's this one alchemy recipe known as "Vial of the Sands". It turns you into a dragon, able to fly super-fast and carry a friend on your back. Cool, right? Unfortunately, one of the reagents is the Sands of Time, which is only sold by one NPC for 3,000 gold. And you need eight of these.
- In City of Heroes, there used to be very few money-sinks at high levels. With the introduction of Super-Groups, one could choose to earn Prestige for one's group instead of the regular Influence/Infamy for one's character, which partially solved the problem. But when Inventions came out, suddenly, the high-level characters with lots of Inf were buying low-level salvage that only low-level characters could get for huge sums, effectively redistributing a lot of money from high to low.
- More importantly the Auction House (which was added at the same time as inventions) takes a 10% cut of all transactions. This serves as a pretty effective Inf-sink.
- In the early days of Kingdom of Loathing, there was a rather nasty period of bug exploitation known as "Black Sunday" that resulted in some people gaining ludicrous amounts of meat, the game's Global Currency. Thus, "meatsinks" were created, such as the Penguin Mafia raffles and the "Save the Yeti" fundraisers. Ironically enough, the problem arose from an item that was actually itself a money sink—well, when used outside of combat, that is—called a "meat vortex." It was intended to be used in combat to take some meat from an enemy, and just for fun the dev team made it take 30 or so meat from you when you used it outside of combat. Unfortunately, using it without any meat in your inventory caused the problem, as your meat total went below zero and all the way up to the top.
- The early version of the Money Making Game did nothing except take Meat from you. Well, there was one quest that required you visiting it once, but all other visits would simply take your money. Currently, it serves as a 50/50 bet between two players, however the house takes a small percentage, rendering it a minor money sink.
- Considering the sheer volume of bets and the large amounts bet, it absorbs millions of meat daily.
- On meeting certain requirements, you get a trophy for it — if you pay for it. Only 10k apiece. There are nearly a hundred trophies right now, with more added periodically. Some of them require you to spend a lot of meat to qualify. The Three Amigos trophy requires spending 3 million meat in exchange for 15,000-30,000 substat gains. The 99 Red Balloons trophy is particularly notable, as it requires spending 9.9 million meat on red balloons, a useless item only available at a certain NPC store after you've beaten the game 26 times.
- Also notable is Hobopolis, a clan-specific area similar to raids in other MMORPGs with a finite number of enemies and much of the best skills and items in the game, all exclusive to that area. It costs 1 million meat from the clan's collective coffers every time it is reset, and depending on how active your clan is, a reset could be needed several times a week or even daily.
- And to get to Hobopolis you need to open up the clan basement, which will set your clan back a cool 10 million meat. This, however, is a one-off payment and does allow you similar access to other Bonus Dungeons like the Slimetube, but your clan's first Hobopolis is still going to cost 11 million.
- There is also Uncle P's Antiques, which is definitely not a front for the Penguin Mafia. Everything there is mediocre and expensive, existing mostly to prove that you can waste that much meat.
- In Final Fantasy XI, chocobo fares and Limbus entry fees were once major gil sinks, but now are only minor ones. In the face of deflation, outpost teleportation fares have been reduced as well. However, fees for the Jeuno auction house remain high enough to interfere with the sale of minor items (more so in Al Zahbi/Whitegate than in Jeuno proper), and the fees charged for the endgame area Dynamis, even after being reduced for deflation, are exorbitant enough that they could only be plausible as intentional gil sinks.
- In Runescape, the entire construction skill is one big Money Sink. They really shouldn't have made money the resource needed to build a room by yourself. The player is not made out of money, are they? And if they were, where's their golden room? (The rest of the Money Sink makes more sense, though.)
- The Summoning skill also serves as a money sink via the spirit shards required to make minion calling items.
- Seemingly averted with Miscellenia, the kingdom the player character gains control over after completing a quest. If you stock money into it, you'll lose 10% of the money deposited every day, to a maximum of 75k every day. However, if you make sure you have at least 750k there every day, and have ten workers in herbs, you'll get a load of herbs which can be sold. PROFIT! However, upon deeper thinking, the money that you put into your Kingdom leaves the game, while the money that you make from selling what it produces comes from players, so there is a net flow of money out of the game's economy.
- EVE Online has many of the usual money sinks, though some go to obscene levels - blueprints for a Titan cost the equivalent of several thousand dollars, and the skill to fly one costs several hundred. Also notable is that player-owned structures (necessary for gaining control of player-owned space) are all bought from NPCs, and require fuel that is also bought from NPCs.
- Later patches mean that structures are made from blueprints, and fueled from harvestable resources made into fuel by other players. Inflation has started to become an issue, not helped by market fluctuations. Large alliances can afford to spend multi-billion ships like water.
- Anarchy Online has tried a number of these after a few 'unintended features' left the market bloated with credits (the game's currency).
- The Clinique Plastique, a feature introduced with Alien Invasion, allowed players to change how their character looked (but not breed or profession) for the measly sum of 50 million credits (since reduced to 25 million).
- In the game, skills are managed via point expenditure, and you are given a limited number of times to reset skills. With the Lost Eden expansion, a new and larger money sink was introduced by allowing players to purchase these reset points for a large sum.
- The Elder Scrolls
- In Daggerfall, you could buy houses in several cities for astronomical sums of money. However, apart from letting you feel like a big shot, they have no impact on the game play, since any items you place in the chests and cupboards there tend to disappear into nirvana. You could also buy ships, an Awesome but Impractical option sadly missing in the latter games.
- The Ship DID have two game effects: It cut down travel times, and provided a cheap way to escape danger. Since your ship was always anchored in the same corner of the map, selecting "ship" as your mean of transportation would cause you to teleport to it. It could also save you money once you've bought it: you could choose to (and when going to islands had to) travel by ship before buying a ship, but it cost money. Buying a ship makes going by ship automatic and removes the cost.
- In Morrowind, you could build a house complete with items and servants (!) upon reaching a certain high rank in one of the three local noble houses. Thankfully, the disappearing item glitch has been fixed since Daggerfall and since you can't sell most of the expensive loot to regular vendors, your personal chambers very soon turn into a Trophy Room that'd make Queen of Sheba jealous.
- Oblivion has houses the player can buy and upgrade in each town, but aside from looking pretty, giving you a place to sleep, and offering a safe spot to store items (the latter two of which can be done in many other places), it seems that their only function is to make you feel like a big shot. Additionally, enchanting items and creating spells also cost a huge amount of gold if you use more powerful effects, but at least these tend to be fun to play around with due to the game's sandbox nature.
- Gaia Online refers to these specifically as gold sinks, and they keep an economist on staff to balance the amount of gold in the economy at any given time. The most basic gold sink is the Salon, where users can purchase new Hair and Eye styles. (Many people don't realize that this is supposed to be a gold sink, and beg for wigs of Salon hair as a result). Skin Tyte also sells Species and Skin Tone modification potions that are consumed after use. Marketplace Taxes, and Item Sellback (Which removes 50% of the purchase price from the economy) are also major Gold Sinks. Finally, Gaia features a yearly "Gold Sink" event, in which players can donate money to NPCs, with many players donating millions at a time for bragging rights. These range from Megalomaniacs begging for Tower Money, NPCs selling cures for The Virus (or even The Virus itself), Shops being foreclosed by the GRS (which then promptly...built a giant tower. Our tax dollars at work...), or Vampire Heiresses standing in an alley begging for gold. Most people think the Von Helson Sisters are hookers because of that event...
- Dernier*Cri. The cheapest item clocks in at a little over one million gold — the most expensive is close to
seven NINE million. And no, you can't buy any of the items there with Gaia Cash. Have fun emptying those virtual wallets! (When it "rematerializes", of course.)
- Even normal Gold Shops these days tend to update with items running from the thousands to the tens of thousands of gold, depending on their usability according to what's popular to wear in the forums these days.
- DragonFable has recently created a House feature. You can buy a house with virtual gold, then buy stuff for the house with virtual gold. There's no purpose for the house except to dispose of gold and to have another place to call 'home town'. You can't even heal in them.
- Well, you can heal in them if you buy a highly expensive healing pad. Or pay 100,000 gold for a broken healing pad...
- You can also buy stuff with Dragon Coins, an in-game currency which costs real money. Plus you need a Dragon Amulet to own the house in the first place, which also costs real money. So it's not just a Money Sink for virtual gold...
- From the same company, AdventureQuest Worlds has the Tercessuinotlim area, in which many of the game's best-looking or rarest items can be created. The easiest armor to obtain there uses an item costing exactly a million gold as one of its materials, and then there's the Wheel of Chance used to get the materials to upgrade it (which acts like roulette with items as prizes).
- In Entropia Universe, everything in the entire game is a Money Sink, from basic ammunition and supplies to land and housing to the orbital nightclub asteroid. Even your equipment sucks cash away, because it requires periodic maintenance that must be paid for with in game cash. Justified, because game money is generated by players voluntarily paying real money to get it, and you can convert the game money back to real cash. There is consequently an extremely well-balanced and competitive player economy.
- Browser-based MMORPG Travians has ten resources. You can eat the bread, but after a certain level it's better to buy other food at the Tavern. Other than that, the resources go to enlarge your warehouse (ability to hold resources) or your guild warehouse (ability to hold donations) or... taxes. Every ten levels, you hand over a certain number of resources and money to the Tax Collector, or else you stop gaining levels and can't use guild artifacts. Argue about this on the forums and you're told that it keeps the economy going, since without the taxes, who would buy resources? and selling resources is about the only way to make money. So you gather resources to sell to other players, who buy them only to hand them over to NPC's who get rid of them...... Tell me this economy isn't in drastic need of an overhaul.
- Oh, and guild stuff. Guild artifacts that give you buffs, guild buildings that give you exp., etc. If you're not in a guild... your warehouse is the only thing you use resources on.
- In Guild Wars optimal equipment is relatively easy to obtain. It's not too hard to grab a good base weapon/armor and add the one or two mods needed to make it perfect, and this costs only around 10-30 thousand gold for a whole set(Depending on how common your build is and thus the scarcity of parts) which is a sizable chunk, but not unreasonable for a character who has gotten to the point where he can buy all this. For example, in the third campaign (Nightfall), it is customary for new characters who have the cash and materials available to seek a "ferry" to a certain outpost (Consulate Docks) where a NPC armor crafter is present who can craft "maximum" armor for you at a relatively low cost (not counting the runes/insignia you put on the armor to buff it, and the dyes you use to color it). The game's actual money sinks come in the form of the absurdly expensive armor pieces, from the simple Elite Armor (Which is 10 times as expensive per piece) to Obsidian Armor, which runs for hundred of thousands of gold. These expensive pieces of armor do nothing but look prettier. The same can be said of the rare weapons, but as they involve mostly trade between players, this is not a proper money sink.
- On a smaller scale, skill purchasing is also a decent money sink, with the cost per skill going up until a 1000 gold cap.
- It's questionable how much of a money sink skill purchasing is, especially in the case of "capture signets", which are used to acquire elite skills from defeated enemy bosses. Since each successful elite skill capture awards the player 5,000 experience points, "skill capping" is a popular route for players who can afford the signets to work on their "Legendary Survivor" title.
- Everything that goes into a Hall of Monuments is a money sink, given that once it's IN a hall of monuments, its value will drop sharply if it doesn't drop to nil outright, or is made entirely of components that themselves aren't convertible to game funds through any method (the latter generally applies to titles, although a few pets and one Hero also count). For instance, the value of many "miniature" pets (miniaturized versions of various game heroes, villains and creatures) drops drastically once they've been placed in the Hall of Monuments, or "dedicated", in the in-game term. For that reason, many players prefer not to dedicate their more valuable miniatures.
- The Might and Magic series had the training barracks. You had to pay for every single level your characters actually earned in these places, so they can actually gain those levels (experience alone doesn't cut). It is mostly a sensible and natural concept, however.
- Ditto for MUD Realms of Kaos, except the rate which you will gain experience will be faster than you can gain money.
- Ace Online has the repair/reload bills, and a percentage tax on purchases from the town shops, as well as a tax on the warp shops, to control the flow of SPI and prevent virtual inflation from going too far. The occasional "Rare-storm" when rare items drop more often (during a Nation's Growth or Mothership Victory happy hour) also helps to offset ridiculous trade prices for especially powerful items and keep the money going around.
- In the 1.10 update to Diablo II, Blizzard added a special encounter with a "Diablo Clone" (who drops a very powerful item) if and only if enough Stones of Jordan are sold to vendors in the game. The SOJ was a powerful ring that was duped to such ridiculous levels that it served as the de facto currency in the game, and the Diablo Clone was Blizzard's way of getting rid of excess SoJs.
- Gambling. Gambling allows one a relatively decent odds of getting a desired item, assuming one has sufficient money (it "only" takes a few thousand tries, if you're not unlucky). No-twink/single players will also practically require it in order to make sure all their gear is adequate at any given time.
- Diablo III has auction house fees and high repair costs for top-tier items, as well as a few scattered one-time costs: artisan training, storage space increases, and access to the gag level on higher difficulties. Crafting also serves this purpose, with the blacksmith taking the place of gambling in Diablo II and the jeweler upgrading gems which level to level have a linear power boost for an exponential cost increase.
- Billy Vs SNAKEMAN has, among subtler Money Sinks, the Party House and Robo Fighto, where you pay Ryo for a small chance at a rare item.
- Forging and refining weapons and armor is a money sink for many players of Rohan Online. Forging entails combining two weapons or pieces of armor into a rare weapon or armor, and you can do the same with two rare weapons or pieces of rare armor to get a unique weapon or armor. Refining involves lowering an attribute or level on a weapon, piece of armor or other item so that you can equip it. Both forging and refining have its problems both of which stem from the fact that success is not assured and the chance for failure increases when you try to forge higher-level stuff, particularly uniques. If you fail at a forge attempt, you lose both items you were using for the attempt (which can be REALLY aggravating if you were trying to combine two good weapons or pieces of armor into a better weapon or piece of armor), and if you fail at a refine attempt, in the case of weapons and armor, the item you were trying to de-level instead goes up by a number of levels equal to what you were trying to lower it by (though never above the level of the original), and if you de-level a given weapon or piece of armor enough and fail on a refine, you can actually destroy it. All this serves to gobble up whatever crones you have, and the only way to save whatever weapons or armor you have on a forge attempt is to get a preservation stone, which can only be obtained in a Consignment Auction for a good amount of crones or in the Item Mall or Exchange Market for real money, and which only protects your items against one failed forge attempt per stone.
- In addition, mounts, pets and food for pets are quite frankly the most expensive items you are likely to find in Rohan in general, and are not recommended for anyone below the 30s in regards to level.
- Phantasy Star Universe has a few (most of which are found only in online mode), but the most notable is the Photon Charger, which restores the Photon Points of your weapons. Not having any PP is okay for Hunters (who use melee weapons), but Rangers (guns and other ranged weapons) and Forces (spell casters) cannot use their weapons if they don't have enough PP. There are two (expensive) items that restore PP (one affects one weapon slot, the other affects all weapons slots) and PP regenerates at a slow rate (which can be boosted by (even more expensive) armor upgrades), but recharging a full pallet of S-rank, fully ground (upgraded) weapons will cost a good chunk of cash. Of course, by the time you get anywhere near that sort of gear, you won't be worrying about 1000-2000 meseta a mission...
- MapleStory has a quest that is completed by literally just paying the NPC 5,000,000 mesos. If you're unfunded it's a ridiculously high amount, and even if you're well off you have to come to the decision of if 5,000,000 mesos is worth it to unlock 3 more quests in the chain. Also out of all the random rewards you have the chance to get at the end of the quest, only about 2 or 3 out of 27 will net you a profit selling it to the player base.
- Though if you're after the quest specialist medal (which is That One Achievement, but it gives a stat boost) 5,000,000 mesos is a justified price for 4 more completed quests. It's just that the quest really sticks out by having the NPC simply requesting a big chunk of cash outright.
- The mounts work similarly, requiring you to buy extremely expensive items off NPCs to get them. The original mount will cost 70,000,000 mesos all together after upgrades, with the Knights of Cygnus classes needing 37,000,000 mesos total for theirs.
- Likewise, advancing to Fourth Job can sink mesos. The classic Explorers can either pay 10,000,000 or hunt two rare bosses, while the newer Resistance classes have no choice but to pay 5,000,000. (Separate from the other 5,000,000 example above)
- Lastly, any time players make a trade worth over 1,000,000 mesos, there's a small tax on the proceeds. The more you trade at once, the higher the tax, so trades for 1 meso under a boundary are common.
- Plants vs. Zombies has a money sink in the form of the Tree of Wisdom, for 2500 dollars (the biggest currency in the game is the diamond, worth 1000 dollars each) you can buy food or fertilizer for the tree to grow. The Reward? access to some visual cheats and tips for the game. More importantly, the tree keeps growing, so it functions as a kind of high score. Sadly, this Tree does not yet exist on the iPhone version, leaving players with no way to dispose of excess money.
- Remedied by the inclusion of Mini-games, "I, Zombie" puzzle mode, and the silver/gold gift boxes (50% and 100% chance of containing a plant you don't have in your Zen Garden). Each set of minigames costs 50000, the puzzle mode 150000, a silver gift box costs around 25000 and a gold one costs 50000.
- Neopets has these in the form of shops run by NPCs. Their biggest money sink was the "Save the Wheels" event, in which donating a certain amount of Neopoints in order to upgrade the wheels in Neopia gave you an item in exchange, from toys to a painted Petpet to new background used for customizing your pet. The price of several of these items have gone down compared the amount you needed to donate in order to earn them but the stamp and background are still INSANELY expensive, costing at least one million Neopoints to buy from another Neopian who was willing to donate enough to get one.
- Their latest money sink is the Wheel of Extravagance. Most wheels have an average fee of 100 Neopoints or so, but this one charges a whopping 100,000 just to spin. Some of the prizes can be sold at multiple times that much, but the wheel can also give you exactly a fraction of what you just payed, or even nothing at all.
- LaTale has several, such as the repeatable guild quests, which could require you to buy several expensive fashion items easily costing over a million Ely, with one of the last quests in the chain requesting three golden hammers, very expensive items costing a million and a half Ely each. ss5 quests also require you to upgrade an item with a golden hammer, but with a 50% chance of failure, potentially costing even more if you're unlucky. And then there's crafting special class armor at level 130, which needs, guess what? Another golden hammer. With five pieces in each armor set, and each upgrade needing another copy of the armor as fodder, a full set would easily cost tens of millions of Ely. Want to upgrade your awesome Valkyrie weapon? Well that'll take another golden hammer, for each upgrade. Never mind you need to upgrade them 11 times, and when (not if) you fail, you need to start all over again. And of course, if you don't like the enchantments on your equipment you can have Tonio reassign them. Of course the amount it costs to attempt this is depends on what the item itself costs, there's again only a 50% success rate, and the resulting enchantments are random, meaning you probably won't get what you want, you can easily wipe out your entire savings on an expensive piece of equipment trying to make it perfect. But then, you have to repeat the ordeal with every other piece of equipment you need reassigned...
- The online game Hobo Wars has several examples of this, some including buying food and alcohol, recovering life at the hospital, and purchasing parts for your hobo's cart.
- There is a form of Rare Candy in Skies of Arcadia called Seeds, and there is one of each that will increase one's stats by a small amount. If you recruit a certain character for your crew, he will sell you an infinite amount of these seeds, but each one sells for 50,000 gold each. By the end of the game, though, money can become over-abundant, so it's possible to give your party a large stat boost if you have enough.
- Text/ASCII-based MMO Hell MOO has a variety of money sinks: apartments (which are only necessary for players who WANT a home of their own, as they can easily join a corporation or use the Cube Hotel for a free place to safely sleep), furniture for those apartments, and death itself: dying results in increasingly large fees for cloning, while players must periodically update their clone by manually going to the cloning center and paying a fee.
- In Team Fortress 2, metal has effectively become the currency among players, but with the steady stream of dropped items everyone receives it would rather rapidly become worthless if not for crafting hats taking very high amounts of it.
- Mann Co Keys also act as currency: You can buy them for $2.49 at the online store, 1 key can be traded for some amount of metal that seems to change all the time. Like metal they maintain value because actually using them consumes the item.
- Demonstrating the economics behind this, metal's value in keys has dropped considerably from what it once was because it's trade value was much higher than the items you're likely to get crafting it, meaning extremely few people actually used it. Add in a large number of people having numerous dummy accounts just to sit in place on idle servers for extra drops to craft into metalnote , and you get quite a lot of inflation.
- Perhaps because of the above, Valve introduced another sink in the form of Chemistry Sets, dropped items that require using up a large number of regular items to get a Cosmetic Award. Either you spend about a half dozen regular items plus one Strange weapons to get a Strangifier (which makes a specific item count kills while you're wearing it) or spend 200 of a regular item to get a "Collector's" version.
- Fallen Earth has an economy built almost entirely on Item Crafting, but with a constant stream of chips (game currency) flowing in from quests and sales to NPC merchants. As a result, some ubiquitous crafting components (such as fasteners) are difficult to find anywhere except merchants, to help drain money out of the economy. There are also several services such as fast-travel, mail, and towing vehicles, all of which have service fees that steadily add up. Scavenging is also just tedious enough that once you get a few levels and some extra cash, it's far more tempting to just buy low-end and hard-to-find materials in bulk from NPC merchants and make up the lost cash somewhere else.
- The Lord of the Rings Online has a number of money sinks. The most obvious in-game are crafting materials (cheap, but they add up) and player houses. The cheapest player house is 1.5 gold. The largest amount of gold free-to-play characters are allowed to have is 2 gold. House owners must also pay a "maintenance fee" of 0.15 gold per week. If this isn't paid for long enough, you get locked out of your house and it's put back on the market. Other money sinks are auction fees (which you have to pay to put an item up for auction, and is based roughly on the item's vendor price) and the commission (which you pay only if the item sells, and is a percentage of the winning bid). Higher level players who might want to switch back and forth between two or more sets of traits depending on what they're doing are forced to pay a fee for this as well. Training new skills costs game currency too. That said, unless you're a free-to-play account, all of these are pretty trivial.