In video game stores, it's very easy to buy up a bunch of items (healing potions, arrows, etc.) at one time in a single visit. However, it's even harder to convince shopkeepers to lower their prices when you do purchase bunches of items as opposed to one. This is very often Truth in Television
, as apart from certain retail store-specific sales, discounts on multiple items are generally not given.
Since this trope is prevalent in video games (especially
role-playing games), only exceptions to the rule will be listed below.
- In the classic Traveller supplement Book 4 Mercenary, military items (weapons, ammo, vehicles) could be bought at a discount which depended on how many items you bought, anywhere from 20-60% off.
- Dungeons & Dragons: 3rd Edition explicitly stated, when it came to potion-making, that "Economies of scale do not apply". Most likely as a balancing factor.
- 3D Dot Game Heroes does this with most of its consumable items (arrows, bombs, Warp Wings, etc.)
- The original NES version of Final Fantasy III allowed you to buy 1, 4, or 10 items at a time, giving you a 10% discount for 4 and a 20% discount for 10.
- Final Fantasy IV applies a discount if you buy more than four of any given item.
- Pokémon games have shops that may give you a free Premier Ball if you buy ten PokéBalls at the same time.
- Note: Premier Balls have the same catch rate as regular PokéBalls, and no added bonuses, so it's essentially 11-for-the-price-of-10.
- Well, no added bonus except for a cool effect when your 'mon comes out.
- Aerobiz and Aerobiz Supersonic: Though the game does not give you discounts based on the number you buy, you will usually run into opportunities to purchase planes at half price for a turn. Those make good opportunities to bulk up on large, expensive models.
- In Sub Culture, the bulk discount works against you: the prices of "market" goods (goods that are no use except being sold) increase when you buy many of them, due to supply and demand. Conversely, the more you sell goods, the less they're willing to pay for them.
- Exploitable in Fable to gain wealth, as the price of an item is fixed according to the quantity of the item that a merchant keeps at one time. Since you can buy any number of items for the price of the first one, buying bulks at once and selling them back to the very same shopkeeper is a way to gain virtually infinite wealth.
- Played straight with most items in MapleStory, but some shops sell stacks of 2000 arrows that are cheaper than buying 2000 of 1 arrow at another shop.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind's Merchantile skill was best trained if you bought and sold things one at a time, but buying a lot in bulk usually made the "haggle a few gold from the price" work more smoothly. Haggling like that trained the skill faster, which simulated increased shopping savvy by deflating buying prices and inflating selling prices, but not as much as individual sales. On the other hand, given that the formula governing the Merchantile skill caused prices to rise and sales to drop again at around 50%, bulk shopping was probably the better tactic.
- The X-Universe series has a variation. Space stations' markets incorporate a rudimentary version of the law of supply and demand: wares have a minimum price and a maximum price, and the actual price varies depending on how much of that ware the station has (e.g. a solar power plant with a full supply of energy cells will sell them for 12 credits, whereas if it only has one it sells it for 20 credits). Any change in price due to supply and demand happens after the transaction goes through.
- Barnes from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess sells his bombs by lots of 30, claiming you get a discount that way.
- The ammo dispensers in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon have an option to refill the ammo for all your weapons and explosives for 20% less than what you'd pay for them normally.
- Inverted in Dwarf Fortress. If you offer to pay more for certain items, the caravans will bring more.
- In Alternate Reality, attempting to buy one more than one item at a time could result in the shopkeeper cheating you when doing the math.
- Shopkeepers in Mount & Blade charge higher prices for items they have fewer of, and items are purchased one at a time, so the more of something you buy, the more each subsequent one costs. (They also pay more for items they have fewer of, so buying an abundant commodity in one town and selling it in another town where it's rare is one of the faster ways to earn money.)
- In Flimbos Quest on the C64, the "bulk" version was even dearer: A Scroll costs 400 coins while a Super Scroll which is as good as all the Scrolls for a level costs 2,500. However, no level requires you to collect more than 6 scrolls so it's never going to be cost effective to buy a Super Scroll (as opposed to say, simply buying each Scroll one after the other.
- In Makai Toshi SaGa, the HP200 (100 GP), HP400 (1000 GP), and HP600 (5000 GP) potions permanently raise a human's max HP by a random amount between 1-20 points if their max HP is currently below the number listed on the potion, or 1 point otherwise. As one can see by the costs, you can buy 50 HP200 potions and get a guaranteed 50 points of max HP boost for the cost of a single HP600 potion which can only boost it by a maximum of 20. However, buying the potions and using them over and over is time-consuming as tedious — especially considering you only have 8 inventory slots, a lot of which are probably taken up by this point, so you'll be repeating the process more often than you think. It might actually be faster to simply fight battles and pay for the cost-inefficient HP600 potions (by the point in the game where they become available, battles give out several thousand GP).
- Actually happens rarely in certain stores where you can see such deals as $1.99 each or 2 for $4.
- This trope was studied as part of an experiment concerning advertising. In particular, the bulk bundle provided more profits despite being less cost effective.
- Similarly, Economy Sized packages of products are occasionally priced higher per ounce than the normal-sized package of the same product. Yet they still manage to sell.
- Because sometimes the smaller amount is all you need. You may be paying more for a given amount but that's off set by a lower absolute price and less possibility of wastage/spoilage from the damn thing being lost in the back of the cupboard.