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Adam Smith Hates Your Guts

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"The Khanate merchants grin when they see you coming. An unlicensed foreign captain? They'll pick a price and triple it."

This is the simplest way of saying that the market in a game hates you, the player, beyond all measure.

During the course of a game, the price of a valued commodity will go up, usually several times, to the point where it's prohibitive to actually buy this commodity. Heaven help you if you can't find this commodity in the game normally.

Take, for example, inn prices. The farther out from the origin point one goes, the more expensive a night at the inn is. It does not matter if the inn is in a capital city, or whether it's in a podunk village in the middle of nowhere. To understand the significance of why this is wrong, consider the following: which is going to be more expensive, given properties of approximately the same size and number of stars: a hotel room in Manhattan near Times Square, or one in Poughkeepsie? (If you don't know where Poughkeepsie is, you've proven the point.) The point is: One night's stay at an inn late in the game costs about as much as buying the entire metropolitan city you started out in.


In short, Adam Smith Hates Your Guts.

Named after Adam Smith himself (the one from the 18th Century, not the modern-era writer on finance who used "Adam Smith" as a Pen Name and whose actual name was George Goodman), who is usually considered to be the father of modern economics. Common in games that manage to avert With This Herring, and justified from a design standpoint as a form of Money Sink to avert Money for Nothing. See also Command & Conquer Economy. A hero with a 100% Heroism Rating might be able to get a discount, though.

Ironically often overlaps with Karl Marx Hates Your Guts, where the gaming economy is stacked against you so that all goods have a globally fixed price, but you can never sell things for that price, so becoming a successful businessperson is nigh impossible without serious abuse of the system. Going back to our example of the inn, the inn in Poughkeepsie and the inn in Times Square are both the same price (Karl Marx hates you), and that price keeps going up (Adam Smith hates you).


It's worth noting that, in Real Life, a person like the player character has what classical economics would call a perfectly inelastic demand for certain commodities. This means that, no matter what the price is, the player will manage to raise the funds and be willing to fork them over simply because they need to buy these items. Any merchants who are aware of this can and will charge absurd amounts of money, because they know it will sell regardless, so long as there isn't someone selling it cheaper nearby. Of course, behavioral economics reminds us that human beings are not constructs in classical economic theory, and so are prone to making decisions about prices that take into account more than just supply and demand. The most audacious form of the trope, Price Gouging is a two edged sword, however: In many places raising the price of gasoline and bottled water during a hurricane isn't just a good way to be branded a Jerkass by the local community- it can be grounds for criminal charges and seizure of goods. note  Additionally, even strongly pro-capitalist governments tend to pass anti-monopoly laws forbidding this sort of thing in the large scale.

Not to be confused with No Hero Discount (which is where storekeepers charge full price even though you're saving their butts). Also not to be confused with Adam West, though he may hate your guts too, if only because they may contain microscopic bacteria that he saw in a dream once. Teaser Equipment looks similar, but is about equipment that's priced so you won't be able to afford it until much later in the game. May involve being Scolded for Not Buying.

Compare Bribing Your Way to Victory.

Also despite the name of this trope, it is not to be confused with Capitalism Is Bad (though works using the latter can employ this trope as a demonstration of why they believe that).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Chapter 50 of The Demon Girl Next Door, it is revealed that Sion effectively price-gouged Momo for the "Corruption Stabilizer" potion—Sion asked Momo to pay 7,289,590 yen for it, knowing well that she is not willing to completely fall to the Dark side and she can afford that much.
  • In Episode 12 of the RPG Mechanics 'Verse series Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, both Welf and Lili are shocked at the outrageous prices being charged for substandard items in the item shop on the 18th floor, such as a really beaten bag being sold for 20k valis. Unfortunately they don't have a choice but to buy it, as Bell was forced to drop almost all of their items just to make it to the 18th floor safely. And they would need said items to make it back to town.
  • In The Mage Will Master Magic Efficiently in His Second Life, Zeff unintentionally did this, due to setting the prices of accessories he was trying to sell at the market price he knew from the future. Lydia has to point it out to him and he has to sell them at a loss just to get what they need.

    Fan Works 
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, as part of his Adaptational Villainy, Agil (going by "Tiffany" in this retelling) gives up on trying to help the other players after realizing they're all a bunch of morons, and spends his time in SAO selling them crappy weapons at inflated prices. It earns him enough of a reputation that Laughing Coffin mentions him by name when they put together a video advertisement for their services.

  • Boiler Room: The shady brokerage firm J.T. Marlin overcharges on the fraudulent stock it is selling, getting a "rip" of two dollars for every share sold via dishonest sales tactics. Even the main protagonist doesn't know the company he's working for is an illegal operation until realizing he defrauded many clients of their life savings.
    • While securities transaction fees are an industry norm, there are rules on how much broker-dealers can charge their clients. Any investor should always look at the transaction and account maintenance fees that are being assessed before placing a trade.

  • In-universe example in The Hunger Games. The longer the Games run, the more expensive it is for sponsors to send support to remaining Tributes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In 7 Wonders Duel, if you lack any resources you need for a building, you can purchase the missing ones from the bank. The cost of each missing resource increases as your opponent collects brown and grey cards that produce the resource you're missing.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The first edition of AD&D included rules for training costs in order to advance a level once you had earned the necessary experience points. The time required varied depending on how well you had played your class, as rated by your Dungeon Master. Training time was 1-4 weeks at a rate of 1,500gp times your level per week, plus the cost of paying your tutor, until you reached 9th or "Name" level, then it was a different base rate times your level per week based on your class note  and you no longer needed to hire a trainer. This was a pretty steep expense at lower levels. Higher levels were even more expensive note , but high-level characters also had so much wealth that they could afford the training costs fairly easily. Most groups at the time just ignored the training rules completely, and later editions of the game have made their version of the training rules optional and much less expensive, if they included them at all.
      • In the first computer adaptations, the "Gold Box" games, training cost 1,000 gold times the character's (current) level and didn't take any in-game time. This was actually an inversion, since you had few resources early on, but after completing a few quests you could always afford to promote a 2nd or 3rd level character when they had earned enough experience points, and gold was so plentiful that eventually no expense was beyond your means.
    • In third edition magic items had their price overhauled to be a great deal more than earlier editions, for example the base price of a Crystal Ball went from 5,000gp to 42,000gp. The game was also balanced so that characters were expected to have a certain gross worth of magic items, and characters who did not have those items at higher levels were generally unable to compete. Magic items could be constructed at a reduced cost and you could even make a profit making and selling them, but they also cost you experience points to construct.
    • Fourth edition, for ease of play everything has a fixed standard price (particularly visible in the way the cost of any magic item is purely a function of its level). Fair enough. However, player characters can never sell anything (including magic items) not explicitly put into the game as a cash-substitute treasure by the scenario designer for more than 20% of it's notional 'market price'... (There's a reason for that, and it's that the game developers explicitly wanted to encourage players to take their characters adventuring rather than have them sit around using weeks and months of in-game downtime making stuff to generate more money. But it still fits the trope to a T.)
      • And honestly, 20% is not all that strange if you look at it from an economic perspective; sure, the merchant seems like they're ripping you off, but how often do high-level adventurers come by town? In the default assumption, the heroes are pretty much THE heroes, and there just aren't all that many other people who would be capable of buying that + 5 flaming bastard sword that you sold to Bob's Used Weapon Emporium.
    • In Fifth Edition, it's stated that magic items would hardly ever be available for sale, but a table is given stating their approximate values based on rarity. A potion you can drink once that lasts for ten minutes can cost you the same as a ring or cloak that has a permanent effect, if the potion produces an effect that is more rare.
    • A special case is also the component cost for the Raise Dead ritual. It starts at 500 gold pieces' worth of materials... until a character reaches 11th level, whereupon it suddenly increases by a factor of ten — and then the same thing happens once more upon hitting level 21 (of 30 possible). Handwaved by the game as 'death being less willing to return great heroes'.
      This because death has to be significant enough that it is meaningful, but not significant enough that dying is a major disruption to the game. 500 gp is a pittance to a mid to high level character, so the cost needed to be increased in order to make it at least mean something. It is a constant struggle in such games for death to be meaningful, but not crippling. In previous editions, you lost levels for dying and being raised, so this is a significant step forward as far as pricing goes.
    • Lampshaded in this Full Frontal Nerdity strip.
    • A relatively recent addition to the 4th-edition rules is item rarity. Common items can be purchased, created by PCs, and sell for the usual 20%. Rare items, however, cannot be crafted or bought — they only turn up as loot if the DM specifically places them. The good news is that they sell for 50% (or even 100%) of their list price.
  • GURPS went to a ridiculous extreme in justifying and averting this trope. Magic items are balanced via a relatively simple economic system they built for the game (and explain to any GM who wants to change it).
  • Monopoly is based on this principle. As the game goes on, the players acquire more and more property, monopolize what they can, and charge higher and higher rents to other players who land on their property. Players whose income does not increase fast enough to pay off increasing rents will eventually be eliminated, until only one remains.
    • In fact, Monopoly was originally created as a criticism of the effect of private rents, as a demonstration of how it leads to mass ownership of land by a single entity. In the very first version of Monopoly, you were then supposed to play a second round with slightly altered rules that limit the ability for one player to take over: but this was quickly dropped when it entered the mass market because it's a game and pretend-bankrupting your friends is fun, at least to people who enjoy Monopoly.
  • Tesla Vs Edison limits the total number of actions any player can take in a single turn. Players rapidly realized that the best way to win the game was not to attempt to run either of the iconic power companies, but to spend all their actions stock market trading to gain the maximum benefit from the players who were doing so.

    Video Games 
  • This tends to happen with most MMORPGs that feature intra-player market mechanics. Rare and special items are usually sold at insanely inflated prices. It gets worse the longer the game runs, as the past limited-time and rare items become more sought after, and the currency glut gets bigger and bigger.
    • Though the opposite can happen too if there is a way to farm the rare items. Even if the item has a miniscule drop chance, someone out there has enough time to farm a gazillion of them: and will make an insanely huge profit selling them all. Until, of course, other people start farming the same thing: then the rare item will no longer be all that rare and the price will come down. Also, because it is dependent on people being willing to farm, other factors can be involved too: such as whether the content that the item comes from is current. If it's not, then chances are that item will be expensive because people really don't want to go back to old content to farm it: even if the item in question doesn't have a low drop chance.
  • Averted with the Markets of Age of Empires II, which shows supply and demand to the point of frustration: resources can be sold and bought at the market for gold, the fourth resource. This can eventually mean Wood taken from those plentiful forests will be sold until the price is the minimum 14, while the much rarer Stone can still only be bought with a triple digit price, that increases with each purchase.
  • Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, which is Age of Empires where you can play as the Empire, has much the same system at the Spaceport, just with a find/replace done to replace the resources with ones that sound more sci-fi.
  • Averted in the Sega Saturn RPG Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean: the cost of staying at any inn in the game is based upon the number of party members, and nothing else. A single party member stays at a cost of 10 gold while a full party of five is charged 24 gold (note that the cost did not scale linearly), whether at the first reached town in the game or the last.
  • Anarchy Online's player driven market is inflated to such a degree due to the rarity of items that many players are often turned off by the market and its impressive prices. In a game where any given character can hold 1 billion credits, you will find single items running for up to 5 BILLION credits, certain sets of end-game armor in 10 BILLION plus range and player owned cities note  which were on sale for equally terrifying amounts of cred.
  • Arkandian Legends: Inverted. If you keep buying or selling items, your Bargaining stat goes up and you can buy items cheaper and sell them for more money.
  • Assassin's Creed III has a complex crafting system that lets you build useful items and sell them to merchants around the Colonies. However, the price of crafting items increases each time you make something in a given session, which can result in things like nails, barrels, and soap inexplicably costing hundreds of pounds to create. This is ostensibly to prevent farming infinite cash.
    • Even worse, raw materials are never subject to any loss of value; if the first pelt is worth 200 pounds, the hundredth will be worth exactly the same. That means that other than for merchant requests, it's almost never worth the trouble to craft anything.
      • Crafting in general is a lot of joyless menu drudgery, and in the time you spend grinding away at it, you could have gotten ten times the money just wandering around slaughtering redcoats.
  • Assassin's Creed: Unity and its medicine. Unlike Assassin's Creed II, or Revelations, where medicine is cheap, here it starts off expensive and scales with the player's progress. By the end game, simply restocking Arno's medicine supply costs more than restocking all his ammunition at once. T
  • BioShock
    • This is done with a literal Ayn Rand's Revenge with the underwater city of Rapture. It is justified, though: you are in a super-capitalist dystopia in the aftermath of a civil war, where the 1st act takes you through the medical pavilion and the fisherman's wharf, whilst the 3rd takes you through the uptown residential district, where demand for ammo would be higher.
    • There is one area where this is Played for Laughs — at the Fleet Hall Theater, the lobby vending machine only sells snack items — at about a 4,000 percent markup.
  • Bloodborne does this, and there's only one shop in the game (for the most part). The further into the game you are, the more expensive consumables get. And the shop is run by beings who are said to worship Hunters like you and wish only to serve them. Sure is a funny way of showing it. You can sometimes find them setting up shop in the Chalice Dungeons, where they will gouge the hell out of you.
  • Ammunition in Borderlands becomes exponentially more expensive the further into the game you go: Ammunition in early-game ammo kiosks will set you back a dozen credits, and by the end-game it's in the tens of thousands range. Of course, the game has an economy that can be best described as Money for Nothing incarnate, so you've got practically nothing but ammo you can spend your ever-increasing cash reserve on. The same goes with the "death" regeneration cost of 7% of your total funds. Normally this isn't a problem but some of the areas, while having lower-level enemies, can be more tricky, and with rewards reduced, can quickly drain your cash reserves if you're too careless.
  • Brave Hero Yuusha: Landia's inn costs 20G, Garmuldar's inn costs 50G, while Duneport's costs 35G, and the former is only slightly further away than the latter, though, the former is a city, while the latter is a port, so it may be Justifed.
  • The Cadash arcade game has a huge case of this. There are three ways to heal in the game. One is a magical herb that restores 10 hp when you would otherwise die (with a stock cap of either 8 or 4, depending on settings). The second is an elixir, which has a stock limit of one, there are only two of in the entire game, and you can only use automatically after all your herbs are gone and you would otherwise die. Method 3 is to stay at an inn. The inn price more than doubles each time you stay at one. It is completely impossible to afford every inn if you stay at one after each section, so you must put off that first visit as long as possible.
    • Time extensions are also subject to this.
    • This is why the Priestess, despite having the slowest attack and no offensive spells, is BY FAR the easiest character get a one-credit clear with. The advantage of healing and (especially) protective magic in keeping inn expenses to a minimum is just that great.
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is an interesting case of this. The Librarian is the only one to sell you anything in the game, and while his prices don't go up, they obviously are significantly pricier than items in later games. For example, a simple Potion, which restores 50 HP, typically runs, on average, about 200 gold in many of the later games, though it gets a bit pricier in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia at 500 Gold. Potions in this game cost a pretty hefty 800 gold!! And given that this is in a game where you're most likely to find money in increments of $5-$25 at any one time most commonly, this is a pretty significant extortion for the most basic healing item. And unlike later games, candles have set drops and don't drop varying amounts of money if your heart count is full. Given that Symphony is a fairly easy game, however, and food items are pretty common, this isn't really THAT big of a deal.
    • This is actually a character point, as the Librarian is hesitant to aid Alucard as it would be blatant betrayal of Count Dracula, who the Librarian is apparently quite loyal to. It's only by appealing to his greed that Alucard is able to buy anything at all.
  • In Chrono Trigger, before you do Ozzie's sub-quest at the end of the game, the Medina market charges insane prices for his low-level gear. Once you complete the quest, though, his prices become more reasonable; because you killed Ozzie in the past, the Mystics, who live in the village, never held a grudge against humans. Interestingly, they also sell some high level gear there at even MORE exorbitant prices, thus keeping it out of your reach. By the time you lower the cost, this is pointless as you are a couple tiers of equipment above what is sold there. However, it is quite possible to have enough just enough money to purchase a weapon you aren't supposed to get for another 10 hours pretty early in the game, even with the massively inflated price. Oops.
  • Civilization has an odd variant of this trope. The 'prices' of buildings and units, in the form of hammers (required production to build it), stays constant, no matter which era you're in. Thus, erecting a building in a newly built town will take exactly the same number of turns in the stone age as it will in the modern era, after building cranes, construction equipment and unionised labour has been invented. At the same time, buildings and units you unlock with better technology that you research later are prohibitively more expensive in terms of hammer cost. This leads to odd situations where you have a new town in the modern era where building a TV station (which is unlocked in the modern era) takes over eight times longer than building a library (unlocked upon learning how to read) or a Colosseum (unlocked by construction), and training a unit of riflemen takes four times as long as training a unit of longbowmen (which would be the opposite of Real Life). That being said, in most forms of the game, it is much easier to get more hammers later in the game (i.e. have increased productivity) by building improvements. However, it should also be noted that each turn corresponds to less time as the game goes on, so even if you keep your stone age village to 2000 AD, it will magically be able to construct things hundreds of times faster in in-game years - only the cost per _turn_ stays the same.
  • Colonization:
    • While you can sell whatever you produce in the game in Europe, the prices you get decrease over time. Also, the price you have to pay to buy products or military units from Europe increases. You can theoretically avoid this by trading with Native Americans or with other colonies, but it never seems to work in your favor.
    • The trope is also literally inverted. You can recruit Adam Smith himself into your Continental Congress, in which case he loves you and wants you to succeed. Unless a rival colony snatches him away from you.
    • FreeCol has the initial amount of goods on market explicitly established in the ruleset, which mostly affects price elasticity — you could eventually buy all 10000 tons of food and sometimes it could even make sense to try, but since one caravel takes only 200, it will take forever even if you could churn out goods to sell back to Europe equally fast (which won't happen, since New World goods have only 1000 reserve and prices fall quickly). Natives simply shift goods from "very interested" to "also can be traded" category after one transaction, so you would get the best deal by cycling wares between visits accordingly, and packing holds full when they are ready to buy high — until a village wants something you don't have.
  • Most Idle Games incorporate this in some way:
    • In the browser game Cookie Clicker, the costs for buildings start out reasonable, but increase by 15% with each successive building of the same type you purchase. Where the first clicker (the least-efficient building) costs 15 cookies to produce, the 150th will set you back over 19,000,000,000, and building more expensive buildings can cost in the trillions after you've built enough.
    • By the middle of AdVenture Capitalist, a lemonade stand can cost nonillions of dollars just because you already have a large number of them. note 
    • In Tapularity, you can be earning upwards of 10 million dollars per second and still be unable to purchase, for example, a webcam.. because you can't buy things until you have a required number of "likes".
  • Inverted in Crazy Taxi; each customer pays you, the player hundreds of dollars and tips to drive them very short (usually less than a kilometer) distances. Possible Ridiculous Future Inflation?
  • In Darkest Dungeon, the costs for weapon and skill upgrades for each hero goes up as they level, but through upgrades to the Blacksmith and Guild the prices can be reduced. However, as your heroes level up, the Abbey, the Tavern, and the Sanitarium will also jack up their prices to provide services to your heroes, with a max-level hero costing twice as much to de-stress or provide medical or psychological aid to.
  • Dead Frontier: A green jacket costs more than an M1 Super 90 shotgun, and said green jacket does nothing for the player. No stat boosters, no extra protection, nothing. Justified in that it's a player-generated economy in a Scavenger World. Prices are easily linked to in-game supply and demand — while fresh vegetables shouldn't cost $50,000 apiece, supply and demand says otherwise.
  • Dead Rising 2: The price for a box of Zombrex, to keep Chuck's poor daughter from turning into a zombie, starts off at $25,000, and goes up from there with each purchase, so it would be more financially prudent to find some on your own. Justified by how rare Zombrex is. Chuck buys one, that's one less the looters have and obviously anyone who wants Zombrex is willing to pay top-dollar. And the looters are Jerkasses, too.
  • In Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten, every new hire costs more than the last new hire, regardless of the new hire's class or what town you hired them from (and it's not like you're buying pre-trained or pre-armed folks, either; they all start at level 1 with no equipment.) This is especially ridiculous when you consider that you're traveling around a land where most of the towns have been thoroughly devastated by the Revenants. The people you're hiring ought to be grateful just to have a job, especially one where the employer pays for all their equipment.
  • Parodied in Deltarune during Chapter 2 with Spamton's shop having prices at ridiculous costs. But his shop interface is continuously changing the prices from high to very low, so getting a proper item requires precise timing.
  • The economy of Deus Ex:
    • Hacking into ATM networks will usually give the player somewhere between 100 — 500 credits a pop. Credit Chits are rare and few between. Yet, everyone and anyone who sells you "second-hand goods" will charge you 700 credits for a clip of ammo (6 shots, which early enough in the game, could go quick), up to 2000 or more for a weapon add-on (accuracy mod, scope, etc.). On the other end of this problem, you can find this crap laying around ALL OVER the place.
    • Not to mention that most of the people who take thousands of credits off your hands for relatively common items are somehow still homeless despite apparently sitting on money machines.
    • However, you play an elite government agent and completing your assignments efficiently and following orders reaps commissions and performance bonuses, totaling thousands of dollars. Deus Ex encourages players to work hard, be curious, and loot for maximum survivability.
    • This is even lampshaded at one point later in the game; if you pay someone's 5000 credit asking price for a suit of thermo-camouflage, which is a huge amount of cash for something that is neither that rare nor that amazingly useful, he'll be dumbfounded anyone was willing to go for his offer.
    • The game actually does a good job at keeping your resources just ahead of demand, which with the multiple solutions to any given puzzle means that you could be drowning in lockpicks while carrying around seven different guns in the false hope that one of them might have enough ammo to get you through the next firefight. On an economic basis, part of the plot is that the economy is screwed on a massive scale.
  • In Devil May Cry, every time you purchase an item with Red Orbs, its price gradually goes up until the price freezes after a certain amount of purchases. Depending on the game, another layer is added to this mechanic:
    • There are two types of currency in Devil May Cry 4: the series-standard Red Orbs, which pop out of enemies and destroyed environmental objects, and the new Proud Souls, which are awarded at the end of missions based on your ranking. Red Orbs are only used to buy items, while Proud Souls are used to buy new abilities. Adam Smith's hatred makes the price go up every time you buy an item. And every time you buy a new ability, the price of everything afterwards goes up... though you can also freely refund spent Proud Souls and unlearn abilities if you want to try something else, which lowers the prices again.
    • Devil May Cry 5:
      • For an In-Universe or story-justified example, before Nero can get his hand on his new cybernetic arm, Nico tells him to pay up first. Obviously, her Devil Breaker project costs a lot of money to develop. The game then brings this trope to its head with Nico's shop, who runs under the motto of "In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Full Price." Sure enough, you're gonna be paying out of pocket in order to get the Devil Breakers you need, and depending on the type of playstyle you might have, you're gonna be doing this a lot. There's an option to buy Devil Breakers in bulk, but don't expect some kind of bundle discount, as the price for bulk buying is just the totaled amount of the current Devil Breakers purchasable. Once you start throwing in the extra Devil Breakers unlocked through the story and DLC, the price for bulk buying begins to shoot up.
      • If your vitality runs out, you can revive yourself and restore portions of your health bar on the spot by paying up Red Orbs, with each consecutive revive attempt costing more than the previous one (although the game would reset those costs to their base prices if you reload from a checkpoint instead). Unfortunately, the amount of Red Orbs needed to heal up after being defeated are greatly increased when you're playing on harder difficulties.
  • If one tries to buy controlling stock of another railroad in Railroad Tycoon, an AI company will immediately also start buying the stock, which results in driving the price up; because The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, the competitor can always prevent your taking over. As you buy stock, the price increases, and as you sell stock, the price goes down. Because the player the only real buyer, the price is inflated as one buys and deflates as one sells.
  • Diablo series:
    • In Diablo II, a market developed in trading items between players: but the game's "official" currency, gold, quickly became worthless due to inflation as most items were valued at more gold than a character could ever carry or transfer. Instances of a particular rare magic item, the Stone of Jordan, became the unofficial currency, then later high level runes became the standard.
    • In Diablo III, the position was effectively reversed by the Auction House massively simplifying player trading: at any difficulty level but Inferno (the highest), most item treasure that drops can be ignored as players on higher levels will be getting much better items as "junk" and selling them off for tiny amounts of gold. This wiped out the value of several in-game crafting mechanisms. Blizzard eventually killed both the gold and real money auction house, made most things untradeable and increased loot drop rates and quality dramatically. The fans were initially rather divided about it.
  • Disney Magic Kingdoms: The costs for nearly everything inflate quite a lot the further the player makes it through the Kingdom.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The cost of inns generally increases throughout the game in standard Eastern RPG fashion (to add insult to injury, the base rate is also multiplied by the number of people alive in your party). The cost to revive a character at a church sharply increases depending on the level of the character to be revived, but this becomes irrelevant once you have a character with a revivification spell.
    • Subverted, in some cases, in the newer games. Every once in a while, when you come to a new town or village, the inn rate will be mercifully cheap. Whether or no this concurs with a sharp upgrade in available weapons depends.
    • Dragon Quest I: The cost of staying at an inn is directly proportional with the distance you have to travel from Tantagel castle to get there.
    • Dragon Quest III: A weakness of the Warrior Class is that as they can use most weapons and armor, they are VERY expensive to equip. You'd spend time having to Level Grind for both experience and money to buy the warrior weapons and armor.
    • In Dragon Quest IX, each town has a fixed price for its inn, multiplied by how many people you have in your party. Once you have access to the "zoom" spell you can just fly back to Stornway every time you need to heal and then zoom back to the place you need to be. This saves you at most about 20 coins each time you rest your whole party so really there isn't much point...
  • In Dungeon Siege all mules are equal, but they are sold in almost every city. You can buy a mule in the first city for 1,500 gold. In the final city, the NPC complains that he is having to practically give away his mules because he had no food to keep them alive. The price? 370,000!
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Generally averted throughout the series. All items have a "base price", with the actual price you pay based on a number of factors including (depending on the game) your related attributes/skills (Personality, Speechcraft, Mercantile), the merchant's disposition, and faction association between you and the merchant. While there is some variance from merchant to merchant due to these factors, the same item will cost relatively the same amount regardless of whether you're buying it one hour into the game or one-hundred.
    • Morrowind, which runs on a bottle economy, offers a notable Aversion: Alchemy. It is possible to buy raw ingredients, use them to brew potions, and then sell the potions for more than you paid for the ingredients. The only thing keeping it from being a monetary game breaker is that merchants only have a certain amount of gold available per day, so you'll need to wait for that to reset. (Alchemy is very much a Game-Breaker in other ways, however...)
    • Downplayed in Oblivion, where one can also very easily get access to spells that make vendors like you so much that it breaks the haggling mechanic and they'll always give you the best possible buy/sell prices. Downplayed because, even then, you will never get full value when selling and you'll always pay a little more than the item's base value when buying.
    • Skyrim:
      • It's actually possible to invert this and still have the market hate you; Dragon Bone drops will become so frequent alongside enchanted Daedric artifacts that simply selling one piece will bankrupt the store owner if you don't have any merchant perks or accept the "loss". On top of that several merchants only buys one type of loot (food, armor, weapons, or potions) with only a handful in each town that would buy any loot, so careful management is also needed so that you don't sell to the easiest merchants first and end up unable to sell the rest.
      • Getting full price for an item in Skyrim is difficult but not impossible. It requires (deep breath) 100 in speech (one of the slowest increasing skills), many perks to increase profits + seller available gold and a magical boost to barter. The merchant perk is also required to sell any item to any vendor.
  • In Else Heart Break it's very easy to hack into the bank and give yourself unlimited money, but doing so is meaningless, since the only items you can buy are snacks and drinks. Even having millions of dollars never allows you to exert any extra influence over the town.
  • Averted in Escape Velocity Nova, where as you progress through any one of the game's story lines, purchasing outfits and new ships becomes less expensive on planets belonging to the government you are currently serving, as well as granting you access to ships and outfits that wouldn't be available if you weren't working for that government. The only exception to this is the Vell-os, who are slaves in their storyline.
  • In Etrian Odyssey, the price to spend a night at the inn goes up with every level that your party increases, as does the price to revive a fallen member at the hospital. Items and equipment are also rather pricey — in the first two games, a single Nectar costs a whopping 500en. In The Drowned City, healing items get a much needed price drop, such as Nectars now only costing a mere 50en. Ironically, the shopkeeper here is a major Money Fetishist; probably best if she doesn't find out she's selling this stuff at such a staggering discount.
  • EVE Online
    • "Basic" modules are less powerful versions of Tech I (normal) modules. They were in between Tech I and Civilian (cheap and nearly useless) modules. CCP decided that they weren't needed, and removed the blueprints for Basic modules. Now they fetch massive prices on the market; it's mostly item collectors who buy them.
    • Civilian items also suffer from this; since they're basically useless, there's far less Civilian items than anything else. It's common to see a normal frigate-grade Afterburner selling for 15,000 ISK, and a Civilian Afterburner selling for 300,000. Somebody actually made a Brutix (Gallente Battlecruiser) that was fitted with nothing but Civilian modules. It was named Civil Minded".
    • Faction issue modules can cost over a hundred times more than there tech II variants and give marginally improved stats, which is certainly worth it for some ships. Where this trope really comes into play is that certain faction modules are much rarer than others because it is not popular to work for those factions, however many faction modules share identical stats. So an Ammatar issue module might be a federation navy issue module in all but name but it still costs twice as much.
  • Fable series:
    • In the first game in the series, the economy was driven by supply and demand and one could earn discounts and get better prices for your sold goods by having a higher guile level. explanation 
    • Fable II
      • One can buy any offending store and lower the prices accordingly. Added bonus: Lowering prices counts as a pure and wholesome act, adding to your karmic stats.
      • Compounded, as the more "loved" you are, the more discount you get.
      • However, any discounts you get also affect the price you get for selling. So yes, that shopkeeper who loves you will give you cheaper stuff but also pays you less for your Shop Fodder.
      • If you raise prices in stores you own, you take a corruption penalty but demand stays constant so you make more money in direct proportion to how high you raised them.
  • In Fairy Fencer F, Lola's prices for fury information go up with each new one, even if it isn't particularly better than the last. And, notably, she continues to charge you even after she joins your party.
  • In Fallout and Fallout 2, one can invert this by putting points into Bargaining/Barter until you can buy items from NPCs, sell them back, and make a profit! It's not too hard to get to that point either.
    • Fallout 4, however, plays this painfully straight as the markups for items sold and markdowns for items bought has been increased to 150-1122%, forcing the player to rely on the new crafting system in order to get anything for themselves even with perks that reduce prices and salespeople who offer discounts! Even then you can't produce your own ammo without downloadable content (be it a Workshop DLC or by mods) and fining junk requires putting a settler to a scavenging station (and thereby putting them to a job that literally everyone else does in automatically).
    • Fallout 76 takes this a step further; prices are so ludicrously high that it's much more cost effective to simply craft anything you need and save caps for fast traveling and moving your C.A.M.P. Even plans, the things required to craft different items, are seldom worth the caps — unless it's a particularly rare plan, you're better off hoping you find it naturally. Oh, and you can't sell ammo and plans to vendors.
      • Notably, Bethesda reduced the cost of a certain hat because the cloth-to-caps ratio was much better than anything in the game (plus it was easy to find plans for it). They claimed it was an "exploit".
  • In Fallout Shelter has this trope is played straight as well — the price of building a particular kind of room goes up each time you build one of the said room.
  • In Fantasy Zone, excluding the engine upgrades, everything you can buy from the shops gets more expensive each time you buy them. The PlayStation 2 remake included in SEGA Classics Collection lets you unlock an setting that turns off price inflation.
  • Final Fantasy series:
    • Played with in Final Fantasy II. Every inn charges the exact same price, but the cost of inns are based on how much HP and MP your party members are down by. Recovering 10 HP is no more expensive anywhere else, but eventually you'll be needing to restore thousands of HP per visit. Using Cure spells beforehand can cut down significantly on the price.
    • Inverted by Final Fantasy X-2. One quest consists on helping O'aka the wandering merchant pay off his debt, by buying objects from him. He sells them at the normal prize, but when you get him clear... he drops his prices so much that you can easily get rich by buying 99 of everything from him and then selling it all to the Hypello in the nearby bar.
    • Inverted by Final Fantasy XI. Although the auction house is a player-run economy, NPC store prices drop according to how much famenote  you have in the town they are located in.
      • On rare occasion, due to rampant undercutting on the part of players, you may find items on the auction house being listed at below the NPC resale price.
  • Freelancer:
    • The most central, highly populated systems in the universe have the cheapest/lowest-quality goods. Outside the universe, it's a good idea, because you start the game in the dead center of the universe, with no money and no ship. As the difficulty rises and you get more money, you go farther from the center, and have the opportunity to spend more money on better equipment. But in-universe, it does not entirely make sense.
    • However, their equipment isn't that great (ranking second or third), and it sells that low, too. It's a sort of Hero Discount so you can iron out the really weak points of your gear before the final battle.
    • Once you join up with the Order, you can buy all the best equipment and the best ship at ridiculously low prices. Even if you don't have much money, trading in your previous ship will let you buy everything the Order has and have an entire fortune left over. Won't do you much good after the end of the main storyline, though.
  • A mild example in Golden Sun and its sequel Golden Sun: The Lost Age; Inn prices go up because they charge per person — party size increases as new characters join.
  • In Guardian's Crusade, Inns vary in price; the more populous the city is the more expensive sleeping there is. Furthermore, after you save the cities from a Gargoyle invasion, the Inns usually let you stay for free.
  • The Time Goddess in Half-Minute Hero will gladly reverse time for you (a necessity when you only have 30 seconds to save the world) but each use increases in cost (first 100 gold, then 200, then 300, etc.). She shamelessly doesn't deny her love of money.
  • In Hollow Knight:
    • The most expensive item that can be bought in a shop is an ordinary lantern, which fetches a price worth several magical items and weapon upgrades. The reason the price is so high is that the lantern is mandatory for exploration of several dark areas.
    • Anyone who has multiple charm notches, mask shards, or vessel fragments to sell will raise the price the more of then you buy. Sly goes from trying to justify this to ouright lampshading it by the time you get to the last mask shard, described thusly:
      As it turns out, I do actually have one more of these shards left. Very last one! I feel bad charging you so much for the previous shards, especially because it means I have to charge even more for this one.
  • Played literally in Jade Empire. Zin Bu the Magic Abacus is a clerk for the Celestial Bureaucracy tasked with making sure the goods you need are available at the right time, and he absolutely hates you because he got demoted to this job. Luckily he's lazy and decided to do this by opening his own overpriced shop.
  • Iter Vehemens Ad Necem: Shopkeepers sell items for four times the price they'll buy the item from you for. The black market is more extreme, increasing the multiplier to sixteen times.
  • Inverted, with a few extra tweaks, in the original Jagged Alliance: Your main source of income in the game is refining and selling sap from Fallow trees, which is used to treat an unspecified but deadly disease. In the beginning of the game, you can't get a lot for the sap you gather, because you are a small operation and the people who can pay top dollar prefer to go to the other guy, who has a larger set-up and, as such, a better chance of keeping up with demand. If you manage to retake a refinery and a decent number of trees, you start getting better prices for your sap since you can use your increased capacity to get better deals.
  • Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass: The further along in the plot you go, the more things will cost, even if it used to cost less in the same location.
  • Merchants in Kid Icarus charge exorbitant prices for their wares. You can haggle with them to get a lower price, but if your strength is lower than the level number, he'll raise the price.
  • Killer is Dead: Every time you buy an item, the price skyrockets. For instance, the first time you buy a stick of gum it's a reasonable 10 units. Then the price becomes 10010 units.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's Suspicious-Looking Guy is the sole source of Goofballs. The first bottle costs nothing, but every one after that costs an additional 1,000 meat; so if you want 101 bottles, the 101st one will cost 100,000 Meat and you'll be out over 5 million meat in total (weeks worth of farming). Still, you can work around this by ascending (which resets the price to 0), and you shouldn't really be using Goofballs anyway because they have nasty aftereffects.
  • Inverted in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords where you at one point could reprogram a droid shopkeeper to give you better prices.
  • Legacy of the Wizard keeps giving you magic when all you really need is keys or gold. Also, one clever mechanic the game uses is that items' drop rates are inversely proportional to how much you already have. Getting a lot of items while low on them is easy, topping off when you're 99% full is extremely difficult.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails averts this, though this is equally illogical at times, with items costing the same amount regardless of where you buy them or when in the games you do so.
    • Trails In The Sky: A Tear Balm purchased in Grancel will cost exactly as much as one you bought in Rolent at the start of the game. Most of the time, the items you buy aren't manufactured locally and the ones that are are only sold in that location so there isn't much reason for the prices to be different. Why the unique items tend to go up in value with every new location on the other hand varies, although at least some cases it makes perfect sense. If you're selling restored 1200+ year old relics incorporating Lost Technology, you'd probably charge more than for the gear the local blacksmith could make too.
    • It also averts Karl Marx Hates Your Guts in Trails from Zero, for example, while you can't buy Honey Syrup in Armorica for cheap and sell it for a profit in Mainz (which you'd think would be logical since it's made in the former and the latter is a remote area that has to import everything and a sidequest actually makes a point of how profitable the stuff is when exported) you can derive a profit from your labor with certain cooking recipes that sell for more than the cost of the ingredients needed to make the items. You can also derive a profit from selling the fish you catch.
  • The Legend of Zelda series:
    • Interestingly, this is actually averted in the first game, as different stores have different prices on items you might want (the Magic Shield, for example, can cost between 90 and 160 Rupees depending of the store), so you need to keep track of which merchant has the best deals. Also, the most expensive item in the game, the Blue Ring, its sold in a single, hidden store in all of Hyrule, so you have no option but to pay the full price for it (a whooping 250 Rupees, five less than your maximum wallet limit).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Young Link needs to buy some beans, which you can plant in various places to create levitating plants in the future. When you buy the first one, the seller tells you that he's not moving any stock, so he sells it to you for 10 rupees. Each sequential purchase (only one bean at a time) sends the price up by 10 Rupees, peaking to 100 with the tenth and final purchase. You end up paying, in total, 550 Rupees, so even with the biggest wallet in the game full of cash, you still won't have enough to buy them all in one visit. Each purchase results in a new comment from him about how they're more popular than the previous purchase, even though Link remains his only customer.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The trope is inverted. Initially, the Bomb Shop owner on Windfall Island charges such ridiculous prices for his wares that it is impossible for Link to buy any even with the biggest wallet available (even then, the upgrades are impossible to get at this point in the game anyway). These prices do not sit well with Tetra and her pirates, who simply tie him up and steal the bombs from him, after which he lowers his prices to reasonable amounts that Link can afford.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has it in the opposite direction. When freeing the town and thus getting access to its stores, one store is very obviously meant for the wealthy (it doesn't even let you in without cleaning your shoes first). The few things it sells are so ridiculously overpriced that it is impossible to buy them with even the biggest rupee bag. It is an option though to kick that shop out and replace it by the discounter that a child from your hometown founded, leading to much lower prices.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Beedle is the only seller of the valuable Adventurer's Poach, which holds your bombs, bottles, medals, etc. He sells three out of the four available Adventurer's Poach, but will only sell them one at a time and the price of them increases from 300, to 600, and finally to 1200 rupees. He completely denies about the increasingly high prices of the Poaches.
    Beedle: "What? Me, raising prices? Never! You're obviously hallucinating.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Beedle returns, recurring at stables, bazaars, and other rest stops Link passes through. He always stocks arrows and a selection of critters just right for combating the area's natural hazards. He also overcharges for the arrows compared to any other merchant and the critters can be gotten for free in the right places, but that's the price of convenience. Also, activating the Great Fairies requires increasingly larger donations the longer you go in the game, with the final Fairy charging a whopping 10,000 rupees to talk to you.
  • Inn prices go up as you progress in Lufia: The Legend Returns, but some later inns give you the option of entering through the back door, which typically causes the innkeeper to let your party stay for free for some odd reason. One innkeeper even lampshades how the practice of letting a bunch of adventurers who come in the wrong way stay for free isn't good for business.
  • Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals has Jaffrey, the twin brother of Jaffy, who can be encountered inside of the Ancient Cave. As most items cannot be brought into or out of the Ancient Cave, he is the sole source of items and low-mid-tier gear excluding random chests as well as the only way to combine Mystic Stones within the Ancient Cave. The catch? Jaffrey charges exorbitant prices for everything. Combining Mystic Stones costs ten times as much as Jaffy charges, while recovery items cost forty times more than they cost everywhere else. (And no, sell prices are not adjusted.) Since you lose collected gold as well when you leave, it's worth paying his prices anyway.
  • Luxaren Allure: The further away from the starting town of Erdengard you go, the more the inns cost. The Naga Castle has free resting, the combination inn and store on a side path off the Pehl Mountain Path has the inn cost 30 Vei, and the Parvian Inn costs 50 Vei.
  • Magical Chase: As you progress through the game and buy more items from Halloween Jack, the price of them will steadily increase.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, every successive HP Memory upgrade is usually at least twice the price of the one you just bought from the same vendor. PowerUPs likewise in the first two games. Mega Man Star Force does this too.
  • In Metro 2033, the only money is bartering with 5.45mm ammo left over from before the apocalypse. The ammo is in perfect condition, and packs more punch than the homemade crap you usually find. Therefore, you must choose between supporting the economy and saving your ass in a firefight. There's even an Achievement (Scrooge) for hoarding 500 Bullets.
  • In general, MMORPG developers are aware of this trope and will often build money sinks into their games to remove excess cash from players' wallets, with varying levels of success. Do you twink your alt or drop 20K on a giant mammoth or a motorcycle? The most reliable money sink is armor repairs. If you play end-game content, this can drain you of several hundred gold a night on progression days.
  • In Moonlighter The player themselves is free to invoke this for once, but it is actually advised against. Will can inflate his prices to extraordinary amounts, but it'll turn people off from visiting Moonlight in the future.
  • Mother series:
    • EarthBound (1994) seems to avert this trope for most of the game, as you start in an insignificant little village, and the price of lodging naturally increases as you approach the big city of Fourside (which also happens to be dominated by a Corrupt Corporate Executive) and the resort towns of Summers and Scaraba. Additionally, shop prices never seem to change; the cup of coffee that costs $6 in Onett will be valued the same wherever you go. But then, near the end, you reach the Tenda Village and Adam Smith slaps you in the face: items of all sorts are hideously expensive (costing not money but a certain high-valued item that must be bought elsewhere), and the "ATM" people you find charge 100% handling fees.
    • Mother 3 ties this into the main plot to an unusual extent. The pastoral Tazmily Village does not even use money at the beginning of the game, but the Big Bad's plans include changing that.
  • Like most other "freemium" mobile games, Gameloft's My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic allows you to play completely for free, earning an unlimited supply of coins within the game that can be used to buy new characters. But the game (as released) also utilizes additional currency systems, including "gems" that can only be earned at a rate of one a day and sometimes as quest rewards, and "hearts" which mostly require friends to visit your town and leave a gift (again at a rate of one heart per friend per day). Alternatively, the player can spend real money to buy gems and hearts. Players have worked out that to complete the game's main storyline requires the player to buy ponies and other objects that can only be bought by gems or hearts; as originally released, it would take 3 to 5 consecutive years of playing the game once a day to earn enough of these to buy all the required ponies. Alternatively, these could be bought through around $80 worth of gems. And then there's all the optional characters... Made worse when you consider this game, while having the brony audience from the TV show, is meant for kids.
  • Subverted in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark. The best magical items you find will only be worth pennies at first, but what the game doesn't tell you is that there's a cap to how much merchants will pay for any item no matter how valuable. The more you progress in the game the higher the cap raises, and in Chapter 3 you can get tens of thousands of gold for items that merchants in Chapter 1 only offered you a couple thousand for. Played straight with djinn merchant Volkarion, however — he rips you off horribly on the items you sell to him, and if you comparison shop with other merchants you can usually get one and a half times what he offers for the same item, if not much more.note  Of course, he's the merchant you can literally summon whenever and wherever you are.
  • The Web Game New Star Soccer has 'NRG' Drinks. Every time you sign a new contract, the prices increase. Near the end of the game, an energy drink can cost more than your HOUSE.
  • Subverted in a locally-written game called No (to hide it from the system managers) which ran on the mainframe computer at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California back around the late 1980s. You got to travel around the galaxy buying and selling things, or alternatively, looting other ships and stealing their supplies. Planets had different technology levels, from 1 to 9. Goods became cheaper the higher the technology level, so that photon torpedoes at a #4 technology planet were less expensive than the ones at the #1 planet (which is how you made money, buying from H.T. planets and transporting goods to lower technology ones). Higher technology planets also did better things with ship's equipment, e.g. a #2 shield could provide more energy against other ships trying to fire on you to loot your ship than did a #1 shield, a #3 did better than a #2, and so on. If you bought a #3 shield at a #3 or higher technology planet, the price was in line with it being what it was worth, say, twice that of a #2. But buy a #3 at a #1 planet, however, and while the planet would sell it to you, the price might be 100 or 500 times as much, which is in line with demanding high technology in a place not equipped for it, it's much more expensive where they don't know how. Each planet's level was announced when you arrive, and prices were clearly marked on the price chart, but the program wouldn't prevent you from being stupid and not checking the price. Planetary technology levels were based on a formula as if to say some planets developed faster than others.
  • No Man's Sky plays this straight, especially where Hyperdrive fuel is concerned. The stuff is necessary for your ship to be able to use Faster-Than-Light Travel, and can easily gouge you of your hard-earned Units.
  • In Odallus: The Dark Call, the prices of the merchant’s wares go up every time you buy something from him. The increases are slight, and only apply to the items you actually bought, but they add up quickly.
  • In The Oregon Trail II, supplies get more expensive the farther out on the trail you go. This is justified, since the prices would include the additional costs involved in transporting them to a remote outpost. In an equally justified inversion, horses get significantly cheaper.
  • Similarly, in Organ Trail: Director's Cut, supplies get both more expensive and rarer the farther west you go. Initial stops have plenty of everything, but later stops may not have any supplies at all that you can buy, and what few supplies they have are fantastically expensive. In addition, repairing your car gets more expensive as well. (This is averted in the original Flash game, where supplies cost the same no matter where you are.)
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
    • Averted with the varying inn prices — they accurately reflect the wealth of the local area. The inn that charges the most coins, at 30 coins, is in Poshley Heights, which is essentially where all the rich people live high lifestyles; compare to criminal cesspool Rogueport, where the inn charges only 5 coins.
    • It's also averted with some items which, depending on your location, will be cheaper or more expensive depending on how rare said item is in that area. One character even advises you in-game that a good way to make money is to buy Sleepy Sheep in Rogueport and sell them in Petalburg for a 2 coin profit.
    • Played straight in the Pit of 100 Trials. There is a sleazy merchant who occasionally shows up in certain rooms to sell you various items at inflated prices. The lower you go, the more dangerous it gets, and the more likely it is you'll be running out of healing items. He knows this. By the time you get near the bottom, he'll be selling items for twenty times what they'd be worth in a normal shop. Since you're likely to be maxed out in coins yet an inch near death at this point, these items might actually be worthwhile
    • Using a heart block almost invariably costs more in the dungeon for a respective region than in the open field.
  • Played for Laughs in Pathfinder: Kingmaker, as there's a lone Goblin Merchant in a village who offers overpriced items to the player's party (while the rest of its tribe has been trying to kill them), including a "Masterwork" club for 123,457 gold - an item that normally sells for 400 gold.
  • Justified in Pathologic: A plague has befallen the town, and the prices rise accordingly.
  • In Persona 2, the jackass fairy Trish, exiled from her happy fairy realm for her utter greed, opens up a healing service, which charges an obscene price the first time, her prices rising for the same amount each time her services are used. When healing services are readily available in the overworld at much lower prices, Trish puts her stall right in front of the level boss' door — you can leave the level to get healed cheaply, or fall into her trap, unless you were smart enough to stock on items. She can also offer ice creams that increase various stats, a service also available in various Sumaru restaurants, and at a point she's left at the single source of trade. To absolutely no one's surprise, she starts selling stuff at five times its street value. There is an option to scatter a rumor to give her a Heel Realization to lower her prices... which she promptly ignores, putting all prices back as they were.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3
      • The items get exponentially more expensive, which is made even more bizarre when you consider that the protagonists are students, and that the person selling them their gear is a police officer who's fully aware of the situation. By the time things get really costly, you're getting so many Yen out of Tartarus that you could buy out his entire inventory. Apparently, he's also aware of this. Why the swimsuits are so expensive is a question for another day...
    • The Nurse's Office in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, similar to the Etrian Odyssey example above, will charge you based on the level of the main character.
  • Peter Panic: Every time you win something from the Unlock Wheel, the price to spin it again goes up.
  • Pixel Dungeon features four shops in the dungeon, on levels 6, 11, 16, and 21. The price for each item rises by about 50% in each subsequent store. It is not as absurd as in some other examples of that trope, since the deeper levels are more dangerous and far from the surface, which makes it mor expensive to operate a shop there.
  • Pocket Stables has this in both the research and shopping aspects of the game. Every time you buy something, the price of that item goes up so that it's more expensive the next time you buy it. The same goes for researching of new breeds- every time you research a breed, the cost of researching the next breed goes up by 10 tokens.
  • Pokémon: Generally Averted throughout the series. Every item costs the same amount wherever you go, and Pokémon Centers are always free. Early games originally had what's on stock dependent on a given town, but from Gen IV onwards, the stock in all stores is dependent on how many badges you have instead, with only specialty balls like Dusk and Timer Balls being unique to specific stores.
    • In Goldenrod City, (both in Pokemond Gold And Silver and their Gen IV remakes), there is a "bargain shop" that sells you expensive items with no use other than being sold, at 90% of their selling price. The trade-off is that the salesman is only there on Monday mornings and will only sell you one of each item each time. It's more of a steady income than anything.
    • Exaggerated in Pokémon Black and White, where the former's Black City marketplace charges insane prices for most items. For example, one NPC expects you to pay 10,000 Poké for a Poké Ball, which is 50 times the price one usually costs. Similarly, other NPCs offer you shop fodder like Nuggets and Pearls at prices often double or triple the actual sell value.
    • Played straight in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. An NPC named Bagin in the Team Galaxy HQ can expand your inventory by one space for a starting price of 100 Poké. You can keep talking to him to buy more inventory spaces, but every time you do so, Bagin ups the ante by another 100... then he starts to increases it by 500. Then 1,000. Then 5,000. Eventually, he rises the price so much that if you want to max out your inventory space, the final upgrade costs a mind-boggling 1,000,000 Poké.
  • In Puzzles & Survival, the higher the level of any building, the more resources are required to upgrade it. For instance, upgrading to level 30 headquarters requires more than 210 million food. Troops also progressively take more resources to train at the higher tiers.
  • Averted in Quest for Glory II: when the Elementals show up, the merchants can be convinced to give you free items as long as they're required to save the city (like incense to lure the Fire Elemental). The sole exception to this is Issur the Blacksmith, but then he's a Jerkass and will only hand over his bellows if you can beat him at arm wrestling; Wizards and Thieves will pretty much have to steal the bellows.
  • In Ratchet & Clank, things will cost more as you progress; weapons, armor, and in the first two games, Cash Gates and gadgets all get more and more expensive the farther you are in the game.
  • In Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale plays with the trope in many ways:
    • In this game, you can be a blood gutter merchant who sets a price of whatever you sell very high. The tactic does work on one Rich Bitch, but raising item's prices above 200% will piss off most of your customers.note . Some notable aspects of this:
    • Average customers can be made to cough up 250% for food during a famine. As food demand is very inelastic, this is justified.
    • This is Lampshaded when you buy your first wholesale stock for the express purpose of selling at an inflated price for profit — your fairy assistant mentions Adam Smith by name.
    • And a great example of Artificial Stupidity: in the unpatched game, the first "tutorial" customer will never walk out on a bad deal, meaning you can bid them up to several million for the very first item in the game.
    • While the game lets you overcharge for items, it's actually kind of averted via hidden mechanics mentioned absolutely nowhere in game. Customers will only like you if you give them good deals right out of the gate — i.e., no gouging or haggling — and fostering reputation is the only way they come in with more money over time (most notably, the first couple times this happens their budgets go up by a factor of almost 10). Following the tutorial's rule of selling at 130% is likely to get you comfortably through the first two weeks, then screw you in the second half of the month when nobody can afford the higher tier items you need to sell to keep up.
    • Also subverted in that many players will also sell high-end adventuring gear at a loss to the various adventurers who come into the shop: this makes it much easier to go through dungeons with those characters, and if the adventurer brings their own personally owned gear rather than borrowed gear from the shop, it frees up extra space to bring back loot. If used intelligently, that extra loot will more than make up for the lost revenue from the initial sale.
  • In Robocraft the costs of new parts for your robot start to get downright silly as you progress through the tiers. For instance, wheels are reasonably priced at a few hundred a pop in Tier 2. But in Tier 5, each one costs upwards of 4000. And it only goes up from there.
  • Ruina: Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins: Justified with items obtained directly or indirectly from agriculture. After the Grotto dungeon, the price of food and healing items increases due to the monster attacks on farmers. The prices increase again after the party returns from the Ancient City, due to time passing quicker in the real world. Downplayed with equipment and adventuring supplies, which are sold at fixed prices, though new equipment tends to be priced several times higher than their slightly weaker predecessors.
  • In Rune Factory 4 there are two Doctors, a man and his wife. The first time you die you pay a fee if the male Doctor revives you, which doubles each time. So if you die "a lot" it gets INSANELY EXPENSIVE. Though as a bit of fairness if his wife revives you, she heals you for free, but that doesn't reset the male Doctor's ongoing fees.
  • In the ARPG Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, high-level items are more expensive than low-level items. A level 120 healing potion sells for $1200, enough to buy 150 level 1 pots if you are level 1. And both heal exactly 24%. Further, one can merge one $1200 pot with 19 $12 pots, making a stack of 20 $1200 pots.
  • SaGa series:
    • This occurs in Final Fantasy Legend II. It can be difficult enough to grow in strength since weapons have limited uses, and the prices go up by a huge amount as the game progresses, but there's a bug that occurs when you win a fight: each group of enemies is checked one by one to see if they drop meat (used to transform Monster class characters), but if you were fighting 3 different enemy groups, the game does not calculate dropped gold for the remaining groups if meat happens to be dropped by the first or second group. If you were fighting 3 different groups of enemies and the first group consisted of only 1 monster whereas the two others had 9 monsters in them, you would be ripped off of almost all the gold you should have obtained if the first monster group happens to drop meat because you will only get the full amount of gold you were supposed to get if the enemies do not drop meat, or if you're lucky enough that the last enemy group is the one to drop meat. As a result, making money is very frustrating because a lot of the time you'll only get 1/3 to 2/3 of the enemy groups dropping their gold.
    • SaGa Frontier: You can exploit this trope. You can buy and sell gold nuggets in this game, and in one of the locales its price rises and falls as per the good old laws of supply and demand...except the game's programming recalculates the worth of your inventory in the sell menu before any actual goods change hands! So, start with an inventory of about a dozen or so gold nuggets, "sell" them until the price per ingot is zero, and then toggle the number of ingots that you're "selling" until the price raises to a level where actually selling them ingot by ingot nets you a profit. Then, travel to another locale where the price of gold is fixed and buy more ingots than when you started, and repeat for effectively infinite money.
  • Parodied in Season One of Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police with Bosco's Inconvenience store. As the episodes go on, Bosco's hilariously specific (but always needed) "inventions" cost more and more money, eventually getting to One-hundred trillion dollars.
    Max: WHAT?! Oh, you CRAZY, foo'!
    Bosco: Listen, all I know is, I keep coming up with the most ridiculous price I can think of, and you two keep payin' it! So I ask you, who's the "foo"?
  • Secret of Evermore:
    • An interesting take on this: each of the four areas of the game uses an entirely different type of money (e.g. gold, gems or credits), and the exchange rate is where you get shafted, with e.g. 1 gold coin equal to 2 jewels or some such. Therefore, the item you buy may sell for the exact same price, but the currency in use is worth twice as much, so you're really paying twice as much for the same item.
    • However, this is averted at the end of the game. The way this game works, the area you're in at that point is technically the first part of Evermore you get into it, predating the Prehistoric area, and in terms of currency, that means the exchange rate for this currency is at the lowest end of the hierarchy. If you saved up 25,000 coins, that makes 50,000 jewels, which makes 100,000 talons, which makes 200,000 credits.
  • From the Senran Kagura franchise, the Lingerie Lottery in Shinovi Versus has a system where the player's luck decreases the more lingerie the player purchases, forcing him/her to pay more for a better chance. It doesn't help that there are 98 pairs though.
  • The first Shadow Run for the Sega Genesis had outrageous prices for weapons and powerups. You earned money by taking jobs but since the jobs paid very little, you ended up having to do the same few missions over and over again in order to get enough money to progress in the game. However, if you know where to find the data buyer, earning a lot of money really fast becomes a cakewalk, so long as you have even a mildly competent decker.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Sometimes shops and Trauma Inns will jack up their prices at higher difficulties. In both Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and Shin Megami Tensei IV, increasing the difficulty to the max will triple prices in every shop in the former, and the Ginza shops selling the Infinity Plus One Swords and premium armor sets in the latter. In IV, a single full set of Ginza armor can easily exceed three million Macca in cost, and in III, collecting all Magatamas is heavily hindered by the added cost.
    • Healing places in most games runs on a justified version of this. Healers generally charge based on how much they're healing, with different rates for HP, MP, statuses, and death. As you go through the game and get more health and magic, the prices will naturally go up for major heals. Shin Megami Tensei IV got rid of this system, instead having full heals in underground towns at a constant, cheap price; Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, however, would introduce a traditional version of this trope. In addition to the bars, there are also healing spots in dungeons. All charge more than the bars, and they get more expensive throughout the game.
  • In Shovel Knight each progressive health and mana upgrade costs significantly more than the previous upgrade.
    • Relics are found in chests deep within each stage... which Chester has somehow already found. Not only will he charge you for the relic, but if you wait to buy it in the village he'll actually charge you more.
  • In The Sims Medieval, Sims can actually have this as a flaw. It's called "Guild Enemy." Even when prices are low for everyone else in the kingdom (thanks to high Well-Being), the Guild Enemy has to pay a ridiculous markup unless he wants to go to non-Guild shops whose selection is pitiful.
  • A rare aversion occurs in The Spirit Engine 2: One of the endgame shopkeepers does agree to give you a discount. Played straight and lampshaded by the shopkeeper right next to him, however, who scoffs at you when you tell him you're about to save the world.
  • Star Control series:
    • This is justified in-game by the fact that the Earth Starbase itself has severely limited resources (and crew, natch!)
    • In the second game, there are actions you can take note  that will cause the price of crewmembers (effectively your life points in this game) to rise, along with the ire of your home station master.
    • This will also occur if you consistently lose men you purchased from the Earth Starbase note , but this takes longer and can easily be offset by giving Tanaka (or his brother) a Shofixti maiden after repeatedly insulting him and escaping, thereby speedily repopulating the Shofixti race.
    • An inversion can occur via the Syreen Penetrator note , which has the ability to call crew from the opposing ship and capture them. Master this, and you start getting REWARDED for slavery, as you can then sell the enslaved crew back at the inflated price.
    • Near the end of the game, there is a subversion when the Chmmr suddenly grant you unlimited resources to build anything you wish. This can be a double subversion because your main badass supership needs to be converted into a flying bomb by the Chmmr in order to destroy the big bad's superweapon, effectively taking it out of the fight.
    • The Druuge exhibit a couple of variations:
      • If you sell enough crew to the Druuge it is quite explicitly stated that you're effectively bribing people to join up with a known slave trader.
      • You can also turn the tables on the Druuge in a very simple way. Explanation 
    • Justified and Lampshaded, with the Melnorme traders — their culture considers giving without receiving in turn to be vulgar.
  • StarFlight: The price of fuel for your vessel will DOUBLE several times over the course of the game, and while the rationale is provided for it in the reports you'll get, you won't get any warning that this is going to happen until you return home and see the price has doubled again.
    • Once you know everything you need to beat the game properly, you can rush through and finish the story before the first date falls, thereby stalling the increase in price permanently. However, most players are unable to beat it to the first increase. As many find catching animals and finding new mine-able planets the gameplay's appeal, this seems intentional.
    • Downplayed in the Genesis version, in which the price increases in relatively small increments. It's also fairly easy to amass enough money that the price increases don't hurt much.
  • The price of the Seltzer item in Star Ocean: The Second Story increases linearly with the time spent playing the game on that file.
  • Star Trek Online does this with its Exchange as some items are priced in the hundreds of millions of Energy Credits, usually the more rare, have to use real cash to buy items and ships. This has lead to a massive abundance of player created missions for the sole purpose of amassing fortunes (which of course makes the problem worse by injecting even more money into the economy).
  • Steambot Chronicles has this happen with the price of fuel and parts/repairs as you progress through the story. Working through the story segments quickly and not recognizing the point where you can jump off and just go wandering about for a few game weeks can lead to severe cash flow problems and/or death. Prepared players, however, can easily amass a nice fat bankroll and a stockpile of parts to sell back to the shops at the newly-inflated prices, although that latter is only slightly better than breaking even.
  • In the FPS/RPG Strife, the quartermaster at The Front base will give you a few assault rifle clips if you run out. Aside from that don't expect any hand-outs from him or from the citizens that you're trying to save from the evil empire/cult.
  • Sunless Sea: Mostly averted, as prices for goods vary depending on the setting and story reasons rather than any form of progress in the game, so prices only rise or fall depending on what kind of island or city you're currently visiting. The Khanate will invoke this, however, to scalp the utter hell out of you (as seen in the page quote), as they don't like Londoners much and will make you pay out the nose for even the most basic goods unless you've earned enough favor to have a Trader's license.
  • Sunless Skies: Averted, as whatever you buy in one port will likely have the exact same price being sold elsewhere, so no profit will be made; the actual profits in such operations are snatched up by bigger companies. There are both Bargains (opportunities at small ports where folks temporarily sell limited stock of an item at lower prices) and Prospects (commissions taken at the main ports where you deliver a certain amount of a certain good to a particular port, and they pay you a higher price and an extra shipping fee for gratitude once it's all delivered) to further tip the scale away and give you the chance for actual profits.
  • In System Shock 2 with good stats and lucky clicks, you can either reprogram vendor machines to give items at lower prices, or change the stock altogether, replacing soda drinks with armor-piercing bullets.
  • Tales of... Series:
    • The player can choose to avert this themselves in any Tales game by taking advantage of the fact that many commodities — especially food — don't cost as much in some areas as in others. It's possible to make ridiculous amounts of money as a merchant if you know the differences.
    • In Tales of Innocence, a bug made Hermana's Bear Claw sell for more than its own price.
    • In Tales of Eternia, not only does each successive town charge more for the inn, but the moment you visit an inn, every other inn you've ever been to increases their prices to match the new one.
    • Zig-Zagged in Tales of the Abyss — prices go up and down dependent upon actual availability. If a town is destroyed, its products get more expensive. If there's a war on, weapons are suddenly at a premium. On your New Game+ you can take serious advantage of this by stocking up on items when they're cheap and unloading them when the price skyrockets.
      • However, the most expensive inn is in Sheridan at 600 Gald, unless you count the Keterburg Hotel, which is explicitly stated to be for the rich and does have a much cheaper Inn. This is compared to Daath, whose inn is 200 Gald. Sheridan's inn successfully beats out both capital cities. Prices for that, though, can be averted with the Mini Maven title for Anise.
    • Played with in Tales of Symphonia to some extent. Shops will still charge you, but certain events such as the dragon tours and trips to Thoda Geyser will not charge anything as the people can't take the Chosen's money.
    • The issue with inn prices gets blatant in Tales of Vesperia, where a room at an inn in Halure costs 150 Gald, while the inn in Aspio (which is a very short distance away from Halure) costs 200 Gald. Aspio's inn is just a bookshelf in a library, yet it somehow costs (slightly) more than a proper room at a real inn, solely because you visit Aspio after Halure.
    • Defied in Tales of Berseria. White Turtlez is first encountered at the start of a dangerous detour when the nearby town's stores are closed, intent to gouge pretty clear underneath his cheerful pitch. Velvet calmly says she'll pay the going rate or take what she needs off his corpse, his choice. He pops up several times intending to pull the same trick, only for pretty much every party member to have a go at him. In an endgame secret area, he's found lamenting his debts and blaming the party for him having to sell himself as soup ingredients to pay them off. He gets absolutely no sympathy as the party point out for the umpteenth time that balancing his books on gouging the desperate makes him a bad merchant and a worse person.
  • In the mobile game Taps To Riches, you play as a reformed Supervillain who wants to take over the world by legally buying every run down dump and upgrading them to make a fortune to pump into more upgrades. Being a mobile game, these prices start to get higher and higher until you have to wait days to purchase a single building, if you don't purchase in-game upgrades.
  • The current economy in Team Fortress 2. Prior to the update that saw Team Fortress 2 gain Steam Marketplace compatibility, Crate Keys (generally $2.49 a pop) were traded at roughly 2.33 Refined Metal, gained from crafting 2 items together to make 1 Scrap, 3 Scrap together to get 1 Reclaimed, and 3 Reclaimed together to get 1 Refined. As soon as that update hit, the price of keys more than doubled, going from 2.33 Refined to 5 Refined in roughly 2 weeks due to people selling keys on the Steam Marketplace, usually undercutting the Mann Co price by 70 cents to a dollar. And keys still sell for $2.49 at the Mann Co store.
    • The Scout manages to hash the Heavy over this in a domination quote.
      "$400,000 to fire that gun, huh? Yeah, money well spent. Them $200 bullets ain't so hot when they don't hit nothin', are they?!"
  • Test Drive Unlimited suffers this with the police fines. They start off reasonable, but as the player progresses become ridiculous. Further, they are based off of the number cars the player collides with and the only tactic the police use to stop the player is running into him.
  • In Tiny Tower, the price to build a floor goes up with each new floor built, even if the floor is always empty and therefore not making any coins.
  • Inverted in The Touryst. Whenever you sell diamonds found in the Soggy Island mines for money at Leysure Island's Cash2Go shop, the appraiser will haggle down your offers unless you sell for a rather low price relative to how many diamonds you've mined up.
  • An extreme example of this and Ridiculous Future Inflation occurs in Transport Tycoon. The game simulates inflation by making everything more expensive the longer one plays. If a player plays long enough, a regular bus will eventually cost more than the GNP of any (or with enough time played EVERY) country on Earth. In extreme cases, the AI may found a company so late in the game that the starting funds are not enough to buy a single vehicle, forcing bankruptcy right after building their headquarters!
  • Treasure Hunter G had a surprisingly realistic aversion of this. The cost of items fluctuates depending on how rare they would be in that area. For example, items from the forest will be much more expensive in castle cities to buy or sell. This is actually how you make money in the game, since enemies don't drop cash upon defeat: Buy items where they're cheap (or find them in dungeons) and sell them where they are expensive. The game also helps you out in this regard somewhat: if you encounter a random NPC who is selling cheap low-level gear that stopped being useful two or three dungeons ago, you can count on being able to resell that gear for a profit in the next town.
  • In the Tropico series, inflation occurs gradually over the course of the 20th century. Unless you raise the rates of Tropicans' earnings as well as gradually increase the price of your exports, you will have a lot of unhappy Tropicans noting the disparity between the average Caribbean wage rates and yours.
  • Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun works on a crude supply and demand scheme. This often makes it feel like Adam Smith Hates Your Guts because when a major war breaks out the cost of war materials can increase drastically. This is perfectly realistic of course, and if you happened to somehow coax your capitalists into building said weapons factories you might earn a tidy profit. A more straight version perhaps is that as technology (and hence production efficiency) increases so does demand: Unless you keep up the pace you might well end up with a population unable to buy the fancy new toys your factories are producing.
  • In Wario World, there are machines that sell garlic (health). The later the level, the higher the price. Some machines will even raise the price for each clove that is bought.
  • Water's Fine has a shop run by a dog that lets you purchase upgrades using the treasure you get in every dive. The more of each upgrade you buy, the more expensive it becomes.
  • A downplayed example in Wild ARMs 3; inn prices increase the longer one plays the game but stay reasonable even over long periods of time.
  • World of Warcraft
    • After the release of the "Burning Crusade" expansion, the market for low level items and materials soared due to vast amount of gold being generated by high level characters and the massive demand for low level gear for said high level character's low level alts.
    • The inflation in the cost of flightpaths is a direct example of this trope. One can fly from one tip of the Eastern Kingdoms to the Other for less then a gold, but it'll cost that much to travel within the zone in Icecrown.
    • The most flagrant example, however, is that because enemies drop magic items and other pieces of manufactured equipment, equipment manufactured by players is actually cheaper than raw materials. A character with two gathering professions (Herbalism, Mining, Skinning) is a good way of amassing a huge fortune quickly.
    • A partial inversion occurs with faction rep discounts, getting to a higher reputation with a faction causes all vendors allied to that faction to offer you increasing discounts on all items.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories, The max amount of Star Chips you can get winning a duel is five, and any decent cards at shops or the password menu costs hundreds or thousands of Star Chips. Pocket Station-exclusive cards cost 999,999 Star Chips , and you can't win them from dueling.

    Web Comics 
  • Nodwick once had the explanation that Nodwick's employers were such successful adventurers that they'd ended up wrecking the town's economy due to how much gold, silver, and precious gems they'd brought back: gold was worth less than lead and emeralds were no more valuable than gravel.
  • The Order of the Stick offers an explanation for this. Prices are not actually as high as they are in video games... until they spot Player Characters moving into the town. In which case, they will bring prices up, and open up shops just to make money.
  • In Darths & Droids the players speculate that the ludicrous margins every shop maintains (charging twice what they pay for everything) means they have to be colluding; they speculate this was the origin of the Trade Federation.

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in Cracked's video "Why Shopping in a Video Game Universe Sucks".
    Link: Forty thousand rupees for a satchel? This is cheap burlap!
  • The shopkeepers in Warrens of Oric the Awesome. There are 3 different currencies , with ridiculous exchange rates between them (10 fountain pence for a stream ruby, 5 stream rubies for a fountain pence). The shops often inflate their prices, and are the only practical way to gain stats.

Alternative Title(s): Rising Cost Of Health Insurance