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Artistic License Economics / Video Games

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Artistic Licence Economics in video games.

  • Dragon Quest: Random Encounters provide an extremely high, if not unlimited, supply of gold. Inflation should have wiped out any and all economies years ago. Especially in any town surrounded by Gold Golems, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin and are a walking retirement fund. One has to appeal to Gameplay and Story Segregation to make it coherent.
  • City of Heroes averted the strangeness of infinite money being available from encounters by not giving actual currency to its heroes, villains, and Mirror Universe Grey and Gray Morality...superbeings. It gave Influence, Infamy, and Information, respectively. So, in effect, players were being given their goodies by shopkeepers out of respect, fear or in exchange for information. The player market was also meddled with by the devs every now and then to keep prices from spiraling out of control.
  • EVE Online has a very realistic economy. Unlike in most games where NPC shops have an infinite supply of items to sell, and will buy anything you offer them, Eve has (almost) no NPC buyers or sellers. If you want to sell anything, you have to find another player willing to buy it. All the ships, weapons and ammo in the game are manufactured by other players from raw materials mined at some point by even more players. If you suddenly need a large amount of a rare item, you have to make it yourself or pay someone to do it for you and then someone else to ship it to your location.
    • Heck, some of the larger clans have been able to successfully engage in economic warfare by buying up goods and weapons required for an upcoming clan battle, driving up the price of those items so the enemy cannot even begin to afford it.
    • The Pend Insurance corporation, however, Fails Economics Forever.
    • Interestingly, Ramin Shokrizade (who worked at CCP in the early days of EVE) blogged about how EVE's economic model was so true-to-life that he found it a good predictor of the Great Recession of 2008. Specifically, in the early days of the game most factories were bought up by speculators who sat on them and waited to sell them at high prices to other people who actually wanted the production capacity of those factories. This unfortunately made the game not a lot of fun to play for a lot of people who got locked out of the economic loop by not buying in very early, so they released a patch to make rent paid on those factories much higher than it used to be. This had the effect of reducing speculation and real-estate squatting, as only those who would actually profit by the sale of factory produce would find it profitable to own one. However, in the few months it took to get the patch out, it made a small number of early factory speculators fabulously wealthy.
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  • Dynasty Warriors Online never has money from nowhere. You're either paid by your general or you're getting it from selling stuff you found on the battlefield.
  • Final Fantasy XI has infinite currency due to a fishing mechanic that can pull up "rusty" items. There was no skill required, no chance of it breaking the rod, and many lures would only hit them. They sold for a small but not insignificant amount of gil to NPC shops, a few of which happened to be in a desert oasis town within easy clicking distance of a pond. At its peak, there were hundreds of characters (most of them bots) crowded around the NPC shop, causing rendering and latency issues. Items that once sold for 1.5 million gil rose as high as 60 million over the course of a few weeks. This resulted in the rusty items having their price dropped down to a pittance and further changes to the fishing system.
  • In Anachronox, Sender Station has five traderbots who buy and sell certain (useless) luxury goods. Their prices are wildly different, to the point that you can make a profit from buying low from one and selling high to another a hundred yards away. If you don't mind some repetitive clicking (as you have to buy/sell everything one at a time) you can make money utterly irrelevant as soon as you get there.
    • The game hangs a lampshade on this (and/or on real world economics) when you go to buy the ticket to Sender Station. The electronic ticket counter updates the value (based on supply and demand across the whole known Galaxy) in real time. This change occurs so quickly that the price when you start to click on the icon will have changed more than once by the time you've finished clicking on it.
  • A certain character in Baldur's Gate gives "hyperinflation caused by suddenly flooding small communities with dungeon gold" (in about as many words), as one of the reasons he hates adventurers.
  • Invoked in-universe in the H-Game Bunny Black. Rakia took a Devil's Pact that granted her a modest boost in power, in exchange for any human being able to literally buy her for the right price, and said price being a king's ransom. That was many, many years and a lot of inflation ago. These days she runs a shop despite having the firepower to take the position of Dungeon Master, since now any adventurer could purchase her loyalty with pocket change, something she quietly laments.
  • City-Building Series:
    • Resources are generally infinite, though how much you can extract in a year depends on manpower and environmental factors like the terrain (the Nile flooding is absolutely necessary to Egyptian civilization, land farms and pastures can only be placed on meadows, mines can only be placed near ore-bearing rock).
    • In Pharaoh and Zeus: Master of Olympus the trade system uses fixed prices, though price and availability can change via in-game events and you can't export whatever you're importing (it's one or the other). Divine influence also makes trade partners decide how often they drop by, how much they can sell at a time and how much they're willing to pay for it.
    • Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom finally allows you to import a good and sell it at a profit (indeed, some Silk Road missions use it as the main gimmick and source of income), though the price needs to be set for every trade partner and asking too much may result in interrupting trade and breaking down relations (without warning you about it).
  • In the Civilization series, economic systems are tuned for balance. This can sometimes lead to odd effects like a leader of a pure Capitalist civ directly controlling Corporate executives and dictating the professions of its citizens.
    • One way of looking at it is that incentives are provided — in a manner insignificant by gameplay standards — to promote certain industries.
    • It can be argued that the player (and AI players) do not represent the government, but a 'higher power' guiding their particular Civ - the highest difficulty level is 'Deity', not 'King' (this is made explicit in the SNES version of Civilization I). So if you're running a corporate government, then those libraries and hospitals are presumably being built by corporations. If communist, then the state (and so on).
      • That breaks down when nobody is willing to make food producing buildings when everybody is starving after President turned all the non-gold producing farms (because what profit is their in buying selling FOOD?) with cottages until the President gives them the order to do so.
      • There's a reason why letting the automatic workers change farms/cottage/etc as needed is usually the best idea. Monitoring the cities every few turns keeps the few exceptions from causing serious issues. Also, dumping too much in research or arts to gain relevant advantages can bankrupt the player in a hurry if they don't watch it.
    • Several games in the series have also been observed to assign significant advantages to economic policies that they acknowledge in their own documentation have never actually ended well in real history. Particularly egregious in the case of "planned economies" in Civilization 5.
  • Counter-Strike had this problem when it decided to go to a market-based system to determine the price of weapons. In theory, this would give a real-time game balance to each weapon - good ones would go up in price, bad ones would go down. Their problem was that their algorithm to determine what the prices of each weapon would be was bizarre:
    Valve: The new price for each weapon is based on the total amount of money spent on that weapon. The percentage of money spent on each weapon during the week is used to determine the percentage by which its price moves the next week. So if 10% of all dollars world-wide are spent on the Maverick M4A1 Carbine, then its price will increase by 10%.
    • The increase was offset by a general reduction in price across all items, which caused less popular items to become cheaper. The end result of this system was that some weapons cost as much as ten times as much as others (including most of the preferred weapons), every 'worthwhile' weapon immediately skyrocketed to absurd levels and every other weapon's value plummeted. One weapon actually reached a negative price. The problem stems from the fact a market requires a limited supply. If supply is infinite, then demand alone can't change prices.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War; Apparently, the so-called World Trade Organization is in the business of price-fixing and micromanaging the economy. Technically this is a Justified Trope because the WTO is really a front for the Illuminati and is thus only concerned with world domination. But, this doesn't explain why the WTO's areas are the richest ones in the game. Historically speaking, all attempts at price fixing (from Soviet Russia to Richard Nixon's America) result in economic disaster. It is quite possible that the WTO's wealth comes from embezzling someone else rather than actual wealth creation. It is also possible that the WTO only fixes some prices, however, they still get based for being "greedy capitalists". This is arguably also justified by the fact that most of the accusations are thrown by members of The Order (another Illuminati front), and a fake conflict is a potential part of the cover up. Trope is averted by Denton's faction, who's nanotech-based preference-agglomeration plan could theoretically bypass the economic calculation problem (by measuring people's preferences directly) and thus actually successfully generate "shadow market" prices (a la Oskar Lange) and thus make a centrally managed economy potentially efficient.
  • Diablo II had a big problem in that gold coins were so easy to obtain in large amounts that the multiplayer economy was unwilling to accept them as a currency. The economy turned to barter and finally started using Stone of Jordan rings which were valuable enough and rare enough to be used as a currency for high value items. Later on various runes were used as an alternate currency.
  • Dragon Age II lampshaded the "sudden influx of wealth" problem. Hawke and company delve into the Deep Roads as the final dungeon of Act I, coming out with a gigantic hoard of gold and treasures, making the Hawke family filthy rich. By the time the Time Skip catches up with Act II, Hawke is now a noble in the rich part of town, but it's mentioned that this had quite a devastating effect on Kirkwall's economy when Hawke suddenly introduced a huge amount of cash into it.
  • Dwarf Fortress used to have an in-fort economic system in Fortress Mode. Doesn't sound familiar? It's been Dummied Out for years because it just plain didn't make any kind of sense, as explained by Three Panel Soul. Plus, making computers keep track of all the individual coins involved shot framerates right to hell.
  • Fable:
    • The first game tried to avert this by having item prices based on simple supply and demand. While a good idea in theory, it was very easy to exploit for more money than you'd ever need, very early in the game. The player could buy out a well-stocked item all at once, and get a low price for all of them. The same shopkeeper, now needing to restock that item, would immediately be willing to buy it all back at a significantly higher price, only to sell the well-stocked item for a pittance again. With a business model like this, one wonders how they manage to stay afloat, let alone make any profit.
    • Fable II is no better: The player can buy shops and houses, and can set the price level on them. However, the laws of supply and demand apparently don't exist, as raising prices by 50% will increase your profit by 50%. No one ever pays attention if a shop a few hundred yards away is selling the same thing at half the price you are. The only real disincentive for raising prices is a hit on the Karma Meter. Slightly averted in that if you own enough shops in one area, you can affect how good the economy as a whole is doing. Also, it's realistically possible for the player to actually own every property in the country. However, in real life, even if you have a monopoly, you make the most profit by setting prices slightly higher than they would normally be. If you raise them through the roof, you'll make less (some people can do without, or just don't have the money), and if the good is really inelastic (like, say, water), it would spark a revolution at some point.
    • During the "King" phase of Fable III you are given a series of good/evil choices to make. The "evil" choices increase your revenue (raising taxes, turning an orphanage into a brothel, etc.), which you need to fight off the Crawler in one year's time. The "good" choices often cost you money but make people happy (such as refusing to mine resources under a lake because "it's pretty"). Once the choice is made, the decision is irrevocable, even after you fend off the country-destroying Eldritch Abomination. No mention is made of telling the public why you are doing these things, or leaving open the possibility of tightening the belts for one year, fighting off the threat, then changing things afterwards. One option, for example, is to rebuild a section of the city destroyed when you seized power. If you choose not to rebuild it when offered the chance, it never gets rebuilt.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light there's a minigame where you run a shop and sell off your inventory. Trouble is, while the customers do consider market prices to an extent, they will pay over the going rate, even for stuff you just bought from the same shop. Since both supply and demand are unlimited, you can just reap the profits until you get bored or decide you've got enough.
    • Final Fantasy VII has an interesting example. The vice president of a Mega-Corp appoints himself the new permanent head of the company after the previous CEO, his father, is brutally murdered. A modern Western economist would probably balk at the idea of a vice president with that kind of power, as our corporations aren't structured like monarchies. Normally, authority is divided between the CEO and the various members of the board, the latter of whom are the ones who appoint the CEO. But it bears pointing out that the game is a Japanese title, and for a good chunk of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, much of Japan was controlled by powerful conglomerates called zaibatsus, which were family-controlled and structured much the way Shinra is characterized.
  • Ikariam manages to avoid much destruction equals employment by having islands with only one kind of luxury good (thus players can't build an effective 'one town war machine'; they could exist but the player would need to raid a lot) and utilizes a building called the "Trading Post" to encourage peaceful trading between players.
  • The Legend of Zelda combines the mentioned 'unlimited money' problem with a strict, if odd, aversion of the Wallet of Holding: Depending on the game, you can collect any number of rupees easily, but you are limited to how much you can carry. Purchasing the most expensive items costs more money than any wallet short of a one-of-a-kind magical artifact can ever hold. Makes you wonder who they planned to sell those items to, or why they don't offer loans.
    • The most hilarious example is the bomb merchant in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, who 'sells' his bombs for several orders of magnitude more rupees than you could possibly carry. He seems mighty pleased with his exploitation of his monopoly, forgetting that if you offer your products for several times the total wealth of the planet, no one who can go without the product will buy it, and those who can't go without it will just steal it, as the pirates do later in the story. The real reason for the outlandish prices is of course to serve as a Broken Bridge, preventing you from obtaining bombs too early in the story.
    • A milder example would be the magic bean seller in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, who thinks that any business is an indication of high demand which justifies raising his prices by 10 rupees a bean (And only selling one at a time). This despite the fact that he explicitly mentions that he only has one customer. He's correct, though: demand remains constant, but supply is dwindling, therefore the price goes up.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, there is a shop that sells common goods for insane prices... right next door to a bunch of Gorons who sell the same things (except the Magical Armor) for prices that, while higher than most other shops, are still far closer to "reasonable" than the fancy shop. One might blame Fantastic Racism for the fact that the fancy shop gets more attention than the Gorons, but even granted their monopoly otherwise, it's unlikely enough customers are able to afford the goods to keep the shop in business (which, granted, may be why it's so easy for Malo to buy it out...)
  • Done by either the writers or by Peach herself in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. When the eponymous brothers first arrive in the Beanbean Kingdom, they're told (by a fellow who is transparently trying to fleece them) that their 100 Mushroom Kingdom coins are currently worth 10 Beanbean coins and they'll have to give him 100 Beanbean coins before he'll let them pass. Later on, Peach gets kidnapped (as she is wont to do) and the MacGuffin she was kidnapped to activate broken into a set of Plot Coupons. Prince Peasley cockily bets the brothers 99,999,999,999,999 Mushroom Coins that he'll find the coupons first. When the brothers inevitably win the bet, he makes good, but the royal advisor checks the exchange rates and reveals that their massive winnings amount to... 99 Beanbean Coins, meaning that somehow the Mushroom Kingdom currency's value relative to the Beanbean Kingdom's fell to a trillionth of its original value. This means one of two things: either A) the Mushroom Kingdom economy collapsed entirely during the day or two that Peach was kidnapped, or B) both economies were in dire straits at the beginning of the game and the value of the Beanbean Coin was artificially reset during the course of the game to prevent the Beanbean economy from crashing. Either way it doesn't speak well of Peach's ability to rule her kingdom even when she's not kidnapped. That, or Prince Peasley was lying to them to avoid paying up on a lost bet and counting on them not understanding economics. Or, alternatively, the whole thing was a scam. Looking at the price of items in this game compared to the price of the same items in other games in the series, the exchange rate appears to be nearly 1:1. This points toward both the scam artist AND Peasley lying about it. Otherwise, the whole "exchange rate" is completely arbitrary.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has the War Economy, where Mega-Corp Private Military Contractors have grown larger than national militaries, so much of the world's resources have been invested in warfare that war itself has become a commodity, and the entire world is dependent upon warfare. War is no more a commodity in and of itself than lawsuits are, it can only be profitable in an independently productive economy. While wars do tend to involve breakthroughs in technology, logistics, and industrial productivity, those things really only become economically beneficial once the war ends. And for a government to hire a PMC instead of fielding its own army ends up being more expensive because of profit motive. The game seems well aware of all of this, and only reason this broken system came about was because of a seemingly omnipotent conspiracy that tricked the whole world into a Sunk Cost Fallacy that forces them to keep the War for Fun and Profit afloat despite it spiraling out of control. Throughout the events of the game, the entire planet is suffering a second Great Depression from the horribly designed system, and it's acknowledged that things were just months or even weeks away from imploding on their own even without the game's plot.
    • Metal Gear Rising shows the system in mid-implosion in the aftermath of MGS4. Armed conflict is rapidly decreasing around the globe without outside forces mandating it, and once hugely profitable PMCs are suddenly finding themselves wildly in the red as demand for armies drops in favor of security details and training local forces. The plot is kick-started when a less moral PMC, desperate for work that no longer exists, resorts to attempting to start wars to keep the war economy going.
  • This is played straight and then inverted in the Myst/Uru franchise. In the first game, its villains actually hoard material wealth before their imprisonment. However, since D'ni Writing can provide free access to any sort of world the Writer can imagine, potentially including Ages stuffed full of gold and jewels, it makes little sense. The justification for this is that the boys are greedy, and none of the other villains in the franchise exhibit interest in monetary goods (Gehn wants power over the inhabitants of his worlds, Saavedro wants revenge, and Escher wants to rule the Bahro). Atrus's sons themselves outgrow their desire for value goods before they both die..
  • In Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, the nation of Goldpaw's entire society is centered around dice games, something that was apparently done to save the nation from poverty. This wouldn't work for a variety of reasons.
    • Gambling might bring in money, but it doesn't bring in anything to spend the money on. So a gambling industry backed by nothing else would just cause inflation.
    • Officials routinely used rigged games in which they don't tell the marks how the payoffs work to trick them into obscene levels of debt. Debt collectors usually want people to at least think they can pay off the debt - an IOU that can't be redeemed is essentially worthless, and people trapped by debts larger than they expect to make over the course of their lives might refuse to pay or go to extreme measures to raise the money.
    • Gambling is even part of the tax code - the monthly tax levels are a function of a dice roll. Being totally unable to know what your tax bill will be until the day it arrives would depress the economy, as nobody would ever be able to tell whether or not they could afford a major purchase. It also wouldn't do much good for the government, as it's hard to plan a long-term budget when your income stream is random.
    • The phrase "The house always wins" is meant in the aggregate - yes, Henry Baker of Jonesburg, Michigan won over a million dollars at the casino, but when you compare that to the amount of money that thousands of other gamblers lost that week, the casino still turned a profit. Rigging the games so that the house literally always wins will just cause people to stop coming to gamble - the main product that a casino sells is the dream that you might be the next Henry Baker of Jonesburg, Michigan. Take that away and there's no reason to gamble.
  • O Game's economy is the extreme form of Destruction Equals Employment. It only works because a planet can produce an infinite amount of trade goods and weapons effectively erase objects from existence.
  • Handwaved in Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale. Recette (and presumably any other shopkeeper) can acquire infinite wealth for herself by finding things to sell in dungeons. However, all trading is done under the control of the Merchant's Guild, which sets a fixed going price for each item to keep the economy under control. Shops that trade without membership to, and protection of the guild are liable to have their stock seized by the clergy without recompense, basically shutting them down. It's implied the clergy then provides these items to the Golems to use as treasures in the dungeons they look after, meaning the town's internal economy is actually insulated and tightly controlled at every level.
  • The Red Moon Online: One item, called a "poison pill", was necessary to use regularly to make the game playable. The game had no upper limit on how many of a single item you could carry. So, many people stocked up on this item until a few people had millions of poison pills. Since there was a maximum number of poison pills in the game, no more were dropping and the price skyrocketed. They were going for millions of gold, far more money than most players had seen. The devs' solution? Give 1 million gold to every account one day. As you can imagine, the poison pills were soon going for hundreds of millions.
  • According to the description of the "Something Special for Someone Special" (an engagement ring) in Team Fortress 2, it costs "approximately two monthsnote  salary". It costs $100 in real-world money, which is kind of ridiculous, especially since people actually buy it and then use it to make jokes about how long it's taking Valve to release Half-Life 3, but who in a first-world nation gets paid just $50 a month? On the other hand, you can buy some pretty impressive weapons for $5 and under, so maybe in the Team Fortress 2 universe, currency is just massively deflated. (Ignoring the fact the Heavy once gave a trick-or-treater $7,000 just to make up for making the poor kid cry by being a Boomerang Bigot...) Or maybe it's just an Acceptable Break From Reality because this is actually real-world money we're talking about despite the fact the Something Special's description suggests it applies in-game. Oh, well...
    • In all fairness, the game is set in "the middle-ish part of a century a lot like the one we just had." Specifically, the year 1968. At the time, minimum wage was approximately $1.60. This brings a month's salary to about $250, which is somewhat more reasonable. Given that Team Fortress 2 exaggerates everything, perhaps it is making a joke about how much money is worth back then.
      • It could also be a joke about the advised amount of to spend on an engagement ring at one point being about two months of salary.note 
  • Ultima VII also has a spell to create gold, but that one actually works in a way which wouldn't ruin the economy. The particular spell turns a chunk of lead into a gold nugget. The catch is, that is only worth ten gold, and the ingredients to cast the spell cost more than that (and unlike Serpent Isle with the expansion, there is no free unlimited source of ingredients). Doing this on a large scale would devalue gold itself, but even a medieval economy can be based on other measures of value.
  • In Ultima VII Part II: Serpent Isle, you can learn a spell that summons money from nowhere. The question of inflation is obviously not addressed. Prior to acquiring this spell, the player runs into a group of corrupt pike men who have 'arrested' the captain of the player's ship and want a bribe fine of a gold bar to release him (and let you get on with the game). It has to be a gold bar. You can offer them thousands of Monetari (the local currency), but they will always demand a gold bar. Many walkthroughs have mocked this, but given the existence of the spell, the pike men may be more canny than one would think.
    • This may be due to a bug, as the game manual states that the money created by the spell is temporary, which it actually isn't in-gamenote .
  • The economy of Victoria 2 is supposed to be pretty realistic, but bugs and simplification make it a bit weird. For example, the factories don't store their manufactured goods anywhere. They just sell whatever they can and dump the rest somewhere. Even when this happens, they don't reduce the output unless they begin to lose money - when they begin to fire workers. Also, people buy their goods on the global market starting from the most prestigious nations. Because of that, it may happen that no worker in Germany can buy firewood, because everything has been used up by poor farmers from British India.
    • The early capitalist AI used to do this funny thing where they'd spend thousands on building factories producing luxury clothing in countries where nobody could afford them, causing the capitalists to bankrupt themselves very quickly. Derp. Thankfully this was patched out.
  • The entire point of Wario Land: Shake It! is about the Bottomless Coin Sack, which gives out infinite money to whoever owns it. However, the story obviously never considers just how utterly destroyed the economy would be for whatever country/world the owner actually used said treasure in. 10 million percent inflation? Assuming the bottomless coin sack was common knowledge; otherwise it wouldn't affect inflation at all until Wario inevitably bought a big chunk of the world's economy for himself.
  • The X-Universe takes the trope Up to Eleven in that the economy doesn't work In-Universe either (without cheating a bit, that is); no actual 'money' changes hands with NPC traders, and NPC solar power plants require no resources to make energy cells unlike player owned ones. Special mention goes to the Terrans in X3: Terran Conflict, who are guaranteed to essentially go bankrupt without a player-owned trade network propping them up. Sadly, the implications of a superpower being economically controlled by an N.G.O. Superpower Mega-Corp owned by the player are beyond the scope of the game.
    • The economy is even more comically broken in the Albion Prelude Expansion Pack, which adds a stock market (which has absolutely no bearing on actual commodity trading). Companies cannot go bankrupt, so investing in garbage-rated company is a 100% sound investment with guaranteed profit at some point, it's just a matter of waiting. You can stuff a Mile-Long Ship full of rare goods, causing the "supply" of a commodity to skyrocket with a corresponding plummet in stock prices. Buy a few thousand stocks, then move the ship out of the stock market jurisdiction and watch the stock prices go through the roof because there is no longer a "supply" of the commodity.
  • While most RPGs do not go into enough detail about the world's economy to make any judgements on its stability, Ys: Oath in Felghana does provide information about how Redmont's economy works. A third of the adult population works at the local mine, which is the town's sole source of external trade goods (The rest of the population being in jobs that mainly involve interacting with each other, like shopkeeper). This is why the town flat out refuses to close the mine despite the Count's orders, as without it they have no economy. But a sidequest at the end of the game states that the mine's output for a month would be needed to make one shield, which makes the mine very unproductive, possibly to the point of wondering why they bother running the mine at all. And given the exchange rate a local merchant gives for Raval ore, multiplied by the amount of ore needed to make that shield, many items in the town store are going for what amounts to the GDP of the entire town for several weeks, which raises the question of how the shopkeeper ever expected to be able to sell them.
  • The economy of Zork's Great Underground Empire as described in the manual is hopeless. There is exactly one bank. There is no mention of trade. Every business in the country is a subsidiary of the mega-conglomerate FrobozzCo. On top of that, the government enacted a 98% tax rate, with the money going to frivolous projects that mainly served to boost the ego of its ruler, King Dimwit the Excessive, such as a statue of the king several hundred feet high (All of these combined may explain why Dimwit's reign contained three major civil wars and 2-3 tax riots a day on average). The whole point of this background information (Other than to provide hidden clues to be used as copy protection) was to establish the Flathead dynasty, especially Dimwit and his eleven siblings, as a pack of idiots.


  • Sid Meier's Colonization has a strong economic element. Colonies earn a profit by selling goods back to the mother country. Specialist citizens can increase the value of raw goods by turning them into finished products, like turning tobacco into cigars. But if all the colony sends back is cigars, the cigars will drop in value while other products like rum maintain a high price. Eventually, the rising tax rate robs all products of their value. Two products get special treatment: silver fetches a high price in the early game, but its value later drops and never recovers; while purchasing guns becomes prohibitively expensive as the European power stockpiles them in preparation of fighting the colony in a War of Independence. There is, however, one important Real Life economic element that the game completely (if understandably) ignores: slavery.
    • There is a second huge flaw in the economic model: no matter how large or developed your colonies become, they never develop a domestic consumer market, except for food, lumber, tools, and guns. The only reason to grow cotton, sugar, or tobacco, to produce furs, or to mine silver, is either to sell them in Europe or to use them to manufacture cloth, rum, cigars, or fur coats. Apparently the colonists are all very health-conscious nudists, because they do not wear clothes, drink, or smoke. Also, the only reason to purchase trade goods, which you can only purchase in Europe, never make yourself, no matter how developed your economy otherwise, is to sell them to the Indians; again, your own people have no consumer demand. Also, you can sell anything you have to colonies from other countries, so apparently they have their own domestic consumers, unless they're just engaged in reexport arbitrage. This weirdness can be explained away, though: (1) (and this is very typical for Sid Meier products) is to simply say that the colonies' consumption of these goods is there, just not accounted-for in the game mechanic (i.e. the cotton, sugar, etc., you see is just the excess over what remains in the colony) and (2) you are running a colony on behalf of a mercantilist empire, and the point of classic mercantilism was that the colonies didn't consume much but simply generated wealth for the mother country.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Duke Albarea seems to think that the taxation income is a linear equation - if you raise taxes, you raise income. This is only true to a limited extent: tax income is the tax rate multiplied by the number of taxable transactions, but the number of transactions not necessarily fixed. If taxes get too high, people who are capable of doing business elsewhere will go to another location with lower local taxes and do business there instead - especially when dealing with a marketplace that is intended to draw merchants and customers from other areas. This counts as an aversion as everyone seems to understand this except for the Duke, who refuses to consider that anyone who disagrees with him who he outranks (and only half a dozen or so people in the entire Empire have equal or greater social rank than him) might have a point. So instead of trying to work out the optimal tax rate that gives him the most amount of money, he makes life difficult for the merchants in an effort to make them submit (which would also reduce trade, which reduces taxes on trade).
  • Offworld Trading Company, being a game about economic warfare, simplifies the economy but avoids any many discrepancies. If you corner the market on a particularly scare resource, you'll make money hand over fist. On the other hand, if your monopoly is disrupted by someone mining another source, the price will fall to a more equitable equilibrium. In addition, the larger the surplus, the less a commodity is worth because of the glut. An early example is power: at the beginning of the game, you don't have the resources to build power generators, resulting in rising debt as you have to pay someone else for it. Once you're able to build power generators, the price you get for your surplus is very high as it's still limited. Building lots of additional power generators will result in the crash of the power market as you end up with too much supply for not enough demand.
  • In Tropico, there is an edict where you can print money if you're in too much debt, but the prices of building everything goes up.
    • The player must deal with some realistic economic situations that existed for many real islands, such as embargoes, and massive taxation on traded goods. The player is forced to find other ways to make money in these scenarios. For example, one scenario has the prices of raw goods lose much of their value, which is detrimental to the island's starting economy due to how much easier it is to produce raw lumber, salt, metals, and foodstuffs. The lesson the scenario teaches is the value of importing materials to produce high-value refined goods such as jewelry, furniture, and cigars.

Post-Scarcity Economies

  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising takes place in a world where Nano Machines can create anything from dirt, and created a post-scarcity world where money is no longer used. The villains consist of The Remnant of the old guard, seeking to tear down this system and reinstate scarcity so they can reclaim their old power and influence.


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