The Daily Grind: What do you think about taxes in MMORPGs?

Not taxes on MMORPGs. That's a whole nother thing.

    
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Today I want to talk about everyone’s least favorite thing: taxes. I snagged the idea from a Reddit thread a while back that was complaining about the tax system in Albion Online. The way it works is that guilds with built-up islands and territories and players who rent and outfit crafting stations in base-game cities are able to charge taxes of players for what they loot and craft. “They need to come up with a different way of rewarding players for owning cities that doesn’t involve making everyone who visits it to be a source of profit,” the thread poster argues. “Even if the guild spends their own money to build up the city or crafting stations I find the relationship agitating to be paying taxes to them like they are some kind of ruler over other players.”

I’ve seen lots of tax systems in MMOs over the years, including in my favorite MMOs, like Star Wars Galaxies, which allows mayors to charge taxes on goods and transport in their owns. But I also remember back to Ultima Online, when guilds imposed their own taxes on members. To get into my first MMO guild, I had to go out and cut down trees and mine ore and buy huge stacks of reagents for the guild’s coffers, which I only later learned was just the leader’s personal bank account and was never actually used in the service of the members. I’ve also played several months of Albion Online now and yeah, I’m pretty over the excessive taxes for crafters. The abuse is rampant, and I don’t see how it benefits the overall game economy the way, say, an auction hall fee that is actually a proper gold sink would. It just exacerbates the founder effect already present in a sandbox.

What do you think about taxes in MMORPGs? Is this a mechanic you like? Have you seen it done well in a certain MMO?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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kluaf oz

Do you mean the 14.99 subscription fee I have to pay every 45 days or lose my house in FFXIV fee?

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Anstalt

Taxes need a purpose, which is often what is missing.

WAR had a good tax system – guilds set a tax rate and each member has that money taken directly at the point of earning. Guilds needed money to upgrade guild capabilities, so it was a good system that served a real point…..and you could always turn the tax rate down once you’d got the money you needed.

Beyond that, nearly all MMORPGs have a big problem with inflation. There is a never-ending influx of new money into the economy (every time u loot gold off an enemy, that is new money that didn’t exist before and contributes to inflation) and usually very few things that take money out of the system.

Taxes could be a way to take that money out of the system and combat inflation, but it rarely seems to work that way.

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Utakata

I am already paying them for two. It’s called a subscription.

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SmiteDoctor

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Utakata

Taxes are in of themselves never a bad thing and oft completely necessary. One can argue reasonably they are often measured out unfairly, but that’s an entirely different subject matter.

Taxes in MMO’s though are entirely pointless, beyond the immersion and dubious gold sink perspectives.

I kinda hope readers here get that before wading into this. >.<

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SmiteDoctor

As some one that lives in New York, as working class, I can not afford to pay taxes.

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Utakata

Err…that’s my 2nd point in the first paragraph. But also another subject matter for another day.

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styopa

Obviously the discussion has to start from a place of reasonability; nobody wins arguing ad absurdam:
– you can’t have anarchy, services must ultimately be paid for
and
– I think the 100 million dead to communism in the 20th century should be enough to convince everyone but marxist college professors that confiscatory systems don’t work great either.

That should leave enough space in the middle for a reasonable discussion, surely?

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Utakata

But we can argue that taxes in MMO’s are mostly a pointless thing though.

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styopa

Depends how simulationist you are (shrug).
I’m not fond of system-applied blanket taxes, but as a guild tool? Sure, I can see it being useful. I can also see it being abused, but that’s up to the people playing.

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Arktouros

Really all about intent.

For example the original intent for Albion Online’s tax system was to encourage people to advance through the systems. So crafting in your island/guild island was the worst because you were only supposed to do it in emergencies and instead use town facilities. This meant town facilities got used, which made them more desirable because the lower tax percentages meant players will use them thus there will be competition for owning town plots. Just the same owning a territory in a red or black zone meant no taxes which made them even more desirable for groups who wanted to craft lots of gear. This encourages PvP because you want to own territory as a medium/large group so you can do all your crafting out there that your guild will need. So like it or hate them, there was a point and purpose to these taxes and why they were done.

What I dislike is tax systems that serve literally no purpose. Like Crowfall has vendors and vendors have a 10% tax you can’t do anything about. It goes to no where and nothing. It’s just a straight up, “Do you like money? Here’s less of it.”

What I loathe is when devs make arguments like they’re balancing the economy by removing a % of money from all purchases and trades. No one balances an economy or inflation from trades especially in games where trades can be done outside of the auction house mechanic that takes the tax. Just a lame excuse.

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Bruno Brito

What I dislike is tax systems that serve literally no purpose. Like Crowfall has vendors and vendors have a 10% tax you can’t do anything about. It goes to no where and nothing. It’s just a straight up, “Do you like money? Here’s less of it.”

I get that but isn’t the point of taxing to be a goldsink? MMOs tend to create money out of thin air and having little to no goldsinks is exactly what makes things in SWG cost millions and that price is pretty intimidating for anyone who’s starting.

I’m interested in understanding what would be a good goldsink according to you or Bree. I’m not nearly understanding enough of MMO economy so feel free to enlighten me.

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TomTurtle

I don’t like the upkeep taxes where if I stop paying I lose something, but I’m okay with ones like auction house taxes. I’m also not fond of the idea of giving players the ability to tax their fellow players due to that potential for corruption and just plain ol’ nagging for dues.

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Dean Dean

I think the idea of guilds needing money from players to be competitive is idiotic. It turns players into laborers, which is always going to upset the player base. Games are games, not work.

quark1020
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quark1020

Much like RL, its depends on how its implemented and how that money is used.

For example, I like how conqueror’s blade handle taxes. The guild (or whatever they’re called in that game, I’ve forgotten most of the terminology) that controls the territory controls how much taxes each person pays when gathering resources, depending on diplomatic status. So the guild I was in charged very little for members, a reasonable amount for neutral and non guild players, and fleeced enemy guilds. Once the territories are able to be captured (or lost) again, the leaders open up the coffers and allows all the guild members to used the money to re-supply their armies.

The only other I dealt with was EVE, but I was the guild leader and the only other 2 members of the corp were my personal friends, so the taxes was more to build a little coffer for ourselves. We only used it to replace lost ships and with the agreement that the money is to be returned.

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Adam Russell

I think it only makes sense in a pvp game and only if the city is available to be taken.

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angrakhan

Another option that should be available is a guild gift box. This is a voluntary gifting system where people give what they feel is appropriate (if anything) at the time of their choosing. What the ‘gift box’ feature would do that I haven’t seen in an MMO is that it logs who gave, the amount, and the date/time they gave it. It would also be visible to guild leaders when they’re looking at their guild roster so they can see at a glance who gave and who didn’t. The up side of this system is it’s completely voluntary as opposed to a tax which is not. It also allows the player to time their giving around their own personal in-game goals such as buying a mount for example.

The down side is that now as a guild leader you have to go have individual conversations with people that aren’t giving to understand why and see if they are going to contribute to the guild or if they need to head on down the road and freeload off another guild. Taxation can be better in that regard as it just becomes an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ activity that guild members become used to and don’t think about much as long as the taxation level isn’t crushing.