In video game stores, it's very easy to buy up a bunch of items (healing potions, arrows, etc.) at one time in a single visit. However, it's even harder to convince shopkeepers to lower their prices when you do purchase bunches of items as opposed to one. This is very often Truth in Television, as apart from certain retail store-specific sales, discounts on multiple items are generally not given.
Since this trope is prevalent in video games (especially role-playing games), only exceptions to the rule will be listed below.
- In the classic Traveller supplement Book 4 Mercenary, military items (weapons, ammo, vehicles) could be bought at a discount which depended on how many items you bought, anywhere from 20-60% off.
- Dungeons & Dragons: 3rd Edition explicitly stated, when it came to potion-making, that "Economies of scale do not apply". Most likely as a balancing factor.
- 3D Dot Game Heroes does this with most of its consumable items (arrows, bombs, Warp Wings, etc.)
- The original NES version of Final Fantasy III allowed you to buy 1, 4, or 10 items at a time, giving you a 10% discount for 4 and a 20% discount for 10.
- Final Fantasy IV applies a discount if you buy more than four of any given item.
- Pokémon games have shops that may give you a free Premier Ball if you buy ten Poké Balls at the same time. Premier Balls have the same catch rate as a regular Poké Ball, and no added bonuses except for a different visual effect upon opening up, so it's essentially 11-for-the-price-of-10.
- Aerobiz and Aerobiz Supersonic: Though the game does not give you discounts based on the number you buy, you will usually run into opportunities to purchase planes at half price for a turn. Those make good opportunities to bulk up on large, expensive models.
- In Sub Culture, the bulk discount works against you: the prices of "market" goods (goods that are no use except being sold) increase when you buy many of them, due to supply and demand. Conversely, the more you sell goods, the less they're willing to pay for them.
- Exploitable in Fable to gain wealth, as the price of an item is fixed according to the quantity of the item that a merchant keeps at one time. Since you can buy any number of items for the price of the first one, buying bulks at once and selling them back to the very same shopkeeper is a way to gain virtually infinite wealth.
- Played straight with most items in MapleStory, but some shops sell stacks of 2000 arrows that are cheaper than buying 2000 of 1 arrow at another shop.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind plays with it. While it is played straight for individual transactions, constantly buying from and selling to the same merchant will increase that merchant's disposition towards the player, while also increasing the player's Mercantile skill. Over time, this leads to lower buying prices and higher selling prices. Further, due to a rounding error, the game works out the total price of goods differently depending on whether you click on a whole stack of items at once or add them individually. Simply pick up a large stack of cheap items. Go to a merchant and add them to your "sell" stack one by one and the game will raise the price by the minimum value rounded up to a whole coin on each click. Sell four hundred arrows, then buy the whole stack back for just one...
- The X-Universe series has a variation. Space stations' markets incorporate a rudimentary version of the law of supply and demand: wares have a minimum price and a maximum price, and the actual price varies depending on how much of that ware the station has (e.g. a solar power plant with a full supply of energy cells will sell them for 12 credits, whereas if it only has one it sells it for 20 credits). Any change in price due to supply and demand happens after the transaction goes through.
- Barnes from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess sells his bombs by lots of 30, claiming you get a discount that way.
- The shops in Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon and 4 have an option to refill the ammo for all your weapons and explosives for 20% less than what you'd pay for them normally.
- In Cyber Nations, it's strongly encouraged to buy infrastructure, technology, in the largest quantity allowed at once, as after a certain number of purchases in each category, the price per unit starts to increase with each purchase; buying 10 levels of infrastructure at a time is a lot more beneficial to buying 1-2 levels at a time.
- In The Sims 4, it costs money to cook fresh food, but you can save money on some meals by cooking family size (4 servings) or party size (8 servings) portions. Having one or more recommended ingredients for each recipe will lower the price even further.
- Killing Floor and its sequel have both had accidental cases where one weapon could have its ammo refilled more cheaply by simply selling and then re-buying the weapon, until a patch fixed it.
- For the first game this was the case for the Crossbow. Its ammo cost quite a bit, 20 pounds for a single arrow and 720 for a full restock from empty. Problem was, while the weapon itself cost 400 pounds and came with half its full ammo, and also sold for 400 pounds, so that's half an ammo refill for free. This was later fixed by doubling the price to buy the weapon, while only increasing the price it could be sold back for by 50%.
- The second game had this with C4, which is bought for 650 dosh, and sells for 487, but comes with a full supply of the actual C4 charges, even with levels in the Demolitionist perk increasing the amount you can carry. Initially, replacing a block of C4 cost 100 dosh, so selling and rebuying the weapon cost less so long as you were replacing more than one block (helpful for Demolitionists, who can carry up to seven blocks at maximum level, but a drop in the bucket for any other perk, who can only ever carry two). An update eventually reduced the ammo cost for C4 to just 27 dosh per charge, meaning that selling and repurchasing the whole thing is only cost-effective now for fully-leveled Demolitionists who are completely out of C4.
- A lot of Free-to-Play games gave such deals to purchase rare currency by paying less than the usual amount of individual sales, especially during limited time events or for first-time players (or buyers). Similarly larger purchase packs, especially those that hits $10, $50, or $100, are enticingly noted with extra amounts of "rare" currency.
- Many Japanese mobile games with a gacha system, such as Love Live! School Idol Festival or Final Fantasy Record Keeper, typically allow you to either pay the normal amount of premium currency to pull once, or pay 10x as much; in the latter case, you get 10 draws, plus 1 free, resulting in roughly a 9.09% increase in cost efficiency.
- Inverted in Dwarf Fortress. If you offer to pay more for certain items, the caravans will bring more.
- In Alternate Reality, attempting to buy one more than one item at a time could result in the shopkeeper cheating you when doing the math.
- Shopkeepers in Mount & Blade charge higher prices for items they have fewer of, and items are purchased one at a time, so the more of something you buy, the more each subsequent one costs. They also pay more for items they have fewer of, so buying an abundant commodity in one town and selling it in another town where it's rare is one of the faster ways to earn money.
- In Flimbos Quest, the "bulk" version was even dearer: A Scroll costs 400 coins while a Super Scroll which is as good as all the Scrolls for a level costs 2,500. However, no level requires you to collect more than 6 scrolls, so it's never going to be cost effective to buy a Super Scroll.
- In Makai Toshi SaGa, the HP200 (100 GP), HP400 (1000 GP), and HP600 (5000 GP) potions permanently raise a human's max HP by a random amount between 1-20 points if their max HP is currently below the number listed on the potion, or 1 point otherwise. As one can see by the costs, you can buy 50 HP200 potions and get a guaranteed 50 points of max HP boost for the cost of a single HP600 potion which can only boost it by a maximum of 20. However, buying the potions and using them over and over is time-consuming as tedious — especially considering you only have 8 inventory slots, a lot of which are probably taken up by this point, so you'll be repeating the process more often than you think. It might actually be faster to simply fight battles and pay for the cost-inefficient HP600 potions (by the point in the game where they become available, battles give out several thousand GP).
- In Crush Crush, buying gifts in bulk increases their cost exponentially, as a "shipping" fee is tacked on based on how many you buy at once.
- Fallout 4: Merchants sometimes sell crafting materials in bunches of 25. All of them cost five times as much as buying said materials individually. They do have some added value from being weightless "shipments" of materials you cash in at workshops, but that's only saving you 2.5-7.5 pounds in a game where the base carry weight is 200. You'll often end up buying them anyway because merchants carry far fewer useful supplies than what you can afford—basically, you're paying for the convenience of a single merchant even having that much.
- Actually happens rarely in certain stores where you can see such deals as $1.99 each or 2 for $4.
- This trope was studied as part of an experiment concerning advertising. In particular, the bulk bundle provided more profits despite being less cost effective.
- Similarly, Economy Sized packages of products are occasionally priced higher per ounce than (smaller) normal-sized packages of the same product. Yet they still manage to sell.