The Much Maligned Market Makers

Much has been written here and on discord regarding the market makers, both their benefits and their perils. I thought it might be beneficial to collect all the PRO arguments into one location for the market makers.

  1. New player experience. This is a big one. Right now the MMs allow pretty much any new player package (except fuel that really needs to have a big asterix by it for new players) to make money out the gate. This is a big deal. A new player coming in during a carbon crash will still get by selling carbon (and yes, a vertical player with experts will still make money at a much higher rate of return).

  2. One stop shop for monetary policy. MMs both control inflation and deflation at once. Too much money in the system, the MMs will destroy it for you. Too little money, the MMs will print it. As we saw when electronic sales got hot, the markets got moving, but T1 stayed affordable via the MMs.

  3. Currency equivalence. While this is a market simulator, no new player wants to discover that they are holding large banks of Weimar Republic Marks. By having MMs we ensure that all currencies have some value to each other. Presumably at some point each currency will each experience their own Dutch Disease. MMs help mitigate against this.

  4. A goal to reach for. While the probably needs to be a good discussion about what the right value for electronic MMs are, the NV1 and WR MMs gave multiple groups a big shiny beacon to aim for. Along the way we saw entire markets created along the way (why else would people buy FIM?). I suspect with the soft base limit we will see even more spin off market growth on the path to WRs (even corps will struggle to be entirely vertical to electronics), or at least more stepping back from T1 to focus on higher tiers. I suspect that the only reason shipbuilding really worked out was the massive money chests (and T3+ populations) from electonic sales.

There has been a lot of great discussion about alternatives to the MM system, and I’m not against a replacement. I just want to make sure we all realize how important the MMs are to the core game experience.


I would like to see less currency equivalence in the game. I’d also like to see more player control over aspects of the game. Maybe there could be an elected position for each faction (each company with a base in that faction’s systems gets to vote?) that can set the MM prices within a certain range.

This would allow players to make choices on what their faction has a competitive advantage selling and how their currency stands in relation to the others. I could, for instance, drop the high MM of BSE to 1,000, but you’re going to upset B-fab producers and have money leave the economy in large quantities, leading to deflation. I could raise the lower MM price of C to 350, pumping lots of money into the economy at the cost of inflation. I could also go the opposite route and raise the max MM or lower the min MM in order to favor buyers or producers.

Of course this system could lead to imbalances in currencies. If the financial governor of the CIM faction causes runaway inflation, it would hurt the region and it would need to react to decrease the money supply. Ideally, the limits on MMs should be such that it prevents the worst of inflation and deflation, but having one currency trading at a different rate than another would be interesting.

Just my two cents on the issue.

I think the real issue with MMs is that they’re static. They don’t interact with the market at all, so there’s this artificial floor/ceiling game going on that forces the market into a fairly static race to the middle. If the MMs had a more dynamic interaction with the markets, I think it would help to alleviate some of the problems we’re seeing with them. It would also help to highlight the positive aspects of the MMs.

1 – MMs change their prices based on trades volume, getting better or worse the more or less a resource is being traded.
2 – MMs clear out stagnant orders that are over a certain age in order to force market movement.
3 – MMs stop trading when a certain volume is reached for a given commodity over more than one period.

I’m not a coder, so I’m not sure how easy it would be to make any of those 3 ideas happen, but it would be nice to have more dynamics from established systems like the MMs. I also see it allowing us to eventually be fully in control of certain resources as that tier becomes established.

Hmmm, I didn’t actually reply to this a month ago… Anyways, my only concern with floating or limited MMs is loosing the other functions we gain. If MMs are finite or slide we loose the monetary control part of the MMs. Might be good for getting markets off the MMs but kills the monetary supply aspect. It definitely sounds like the devs are wanting differences in the currencies, so maybe the prefab and consumable MMs being different on different CXs could help push that?