Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gaming By The Numbers - The Silly Economics of Animal Crossing: New Leaf

For as much as I have grumbled on and on about Animal Crossing:  New Leaf (even though I had some nice things to say in my review of it) I can't bring myself to say that I don't like the game, even if I can tell you in very many strings of words how I hate a lot of the parts of it individually.  I like Animal Crossing, and I especially like New Leaf because it's the best of the games so far by default.  Though they didn't get a lot of it right, they got more than enough right that even as someone who hates every single villager in his town save two, someone who is so very, very tired of paying off Tom Nook's endless debts, I still play it every day and I still have -fun- with it every day.  Though part of the fun is admittedly in hoping that today will be the day that I finally get a picture from somebody so that I can happily tell them to get the hell out of Kupolis when they talk about moving away.

The other part, however, is the little Shop Simulator they've managed to cram into the game in the form of the Flea Market spaces in Re-Tail, the place where you go to sell the crap you don't want anymore.  Shop Simulator is stretching things a little bit, since basically all that happens is there are eight slots in which you (and other villagers, provided there are empty slots for them, which there will NEVER EVER BE) can put up items that you intend to sell for a price that you get to decide.  Obvious rules apply here - the price has to be somewhere in the realm of reasonable, so if you think you're going to sell a Cushion for 999,999 Bells, you're out of your damn mind and the villagers will tell you as much.  Of course, the issue then becomes -what- is a reasonable price for any given item?

The answer is that it's just complicated because the villagers all actually know exactly what everything costs because the game is cheap and they're cheating assholes.  See, because it's a Flea Market, the actual intent is -not- to make a profit because the items are all used and as such they've depreciated and blah blah blah.  Of course, that's not how things work in Kupolis, because I know the bullshit and things do not depreciate in value in Animal Crossing no matter what anyone says because they're digital and not programmed to degrade as such.  So I fly my Capitalist flag high and make a profit on every damn thing I sell.  The side effect of this is that everything is a bit of a hard sell because it's, well, being sold at a premium so that I make something out of the deal.  It doesn't actually matter what the price -is- so to speak, so much as it matters what the price is in relation to.  For instance, trying to sell a Wooden Box (Retail: 200, suggested sell price: 50) for 300 Bells and trying to sell a Kitchen Sink (Retail: 2,400, suggested sell price: 600) for 3,000 result in the exact same grumbling that they won't have enough bells for their groceries or this or that.  Which is bullshit.

Generally speaking, you will be able to sell something to everyone who walks in (only one at a time, of course, and sometimes they stick around after a purchase to go "OH MAN, I REALLY BOUGHT SOMETHING, IT WAS SO AWESOME", yes yes, get the hell out) though it may take a while.  There's a 'flow' to the sale, so to speak.  A villager will walk in, move about and usually get a sort of surprised expression before rushing up to whatever it is they're looking at to wait for you.  Then they'll go "Oh man, this is pretty good, BUT it's PRETTY EXPENSIVE, I DUNNO" (unless you're just selling things for quarter-retail in which case, pfft, whatever sucker) which gives you the option to tell them "BUY IT ANYWAY" or "Yeah, you don't want it, actually", the latter of which is only good if you are playing on the same cart as someone else and you want to be a gigantic asshole and make sure nobody buys the other persons things.  Telling them to buy it will either lead to them going "You know what, I better treat myself" and buying it, or them saying "NOPE, TOO EXPENSIVE AFTER ALL".  If it's the latter case, you just sort of...nudge them into line-of-sight for another item to repeat the process.  If you do this for every item for sale and nothing gets sold, congratulations, your villager is an asshole and you should look forward to the day they move out.

Ideally, this won't happen because you're probably not going to want to stray -too- far off of the Retail Price since profit is profit.  Because of the randomness in whether or not they'll reliably buy something, it's hard to say what kind of margin to -expect-, but I can tell you that trying for the ideal 100% retail markup is going to end in tears.  Somewhere between 30-50% would likely be acceptable - obviously start at 50% and work down if things aren't selling as fast as you want them to (as in, somebody looks at all your items without buying) and understand that it's random.  As are most things in Animal Crossing:  New Leaf.  So what I'm saying is that, for your 2,400 Retail Kitchen Sink, you'll want to try and sell it from anywhere between 3,120 - 3,600 Bells and you'll likely see a purchase on that.  Easy money and depending on how long you've had the item, it might seem -more- profitable than not since sometimes you just want to get rid of shit, god.  Of course, as long as you're making profit, it's all good no matter what.

Now you might be thinking "Well that all seems like a lot of effort for not a lot of profit" and you are correct, because it's not a lot of profit if you're selling things that you have just bought (or bought previously at Retail price), but that's where a lot of the fun things come in that make the Flea Market seem downright evil like CAPITALIST HEAVEN.  You see, very little of your inventory of items will likely actually come from you handing over retail bells to acquire said item in the first place.  Every day, there are two trees that you can shake to get random items (let it be known that by Items, I mean furniture) for absolutely nothing.  This isn't counting that sometimes your villagers will say "HEY, I feel super generous here, so have this item" or some variation of that, and just hand it over.  Or sometimes they give you a little errand (get this package to this person before the end of the day) which they will hand over something (sometimes clothing which is bad, but usually furniture) for the sweet sweet price of free.

Do you see where I'm coming from?  That Kitchen Sink you shook out of a tree somehow, that sells for 2,400 bells Retail and 3,120 - 3,600 bells via mark-up?  PURE PROFIT.  That Balloon Dresser you shot down from a balloon with a suggested sale price of 670 bells, meaning a retail price of 2,680 bells, meaning a markup of 3,484 - 4,020 bells?  PURE PROFIT.  -Now- you can see how the bells start piling up rather quickly and -now- you can see why the effort is actually worth it.  Because this isn't a profit margin, now, of 720 - 1,200 bells, this is a profit margin of everything you get.  That's not even the sweetest part.  No, no no no, not even close.  Do you want to know what the sweetest part is?  What the absolute best, greatest part of the whole thing is?

When you sell something to someone and they turn around and give it back to you as a gift, free of charge.  Because that means you can put it back up for sale at the same markup and make that profit all over again.

That, my friends, that is a thing of beauty.  And -that- is why I'm still playing Animal Crossing:  New Leaf in a nutshell.

this is why I'm sad that my computer is shit and I can't play Recettear because I would be so good at it

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