Castaa, on 05 October 2013 - 02:53 AM, said:
The basic desire in the system is to be able to play the game. Meaning you need weapons, armor, such things. You don't need an infinite amount of gear though, you only need to fill up the slots - as in, if you want three different suits of armor for some reason, you only need those three, not five more suits. Similarly with weapons. Thus there is a saturation limit when it comes to gear. It's extraneous, worthless items, so they are sold to the NPC merchant.
Gold on the other hand does not have a saturation limit. Gold can be used for almost anything, and does not take up any space, so you just keep all gold you get, plus the gold you get from the NPC. But when considering the auction house/trading post, gold is the means of purchasing items, meaning that items are the reverse means of purchasing gold. Since the total amount of gold in the system is ever growing, supply increases while possible demand (based on the total amount of trade postings) is kept relatively static. Thus the price of gold drops which is the same thing as that the price of everything else increases, which is inflation.
So why are gold sinks useless? Well it comes back to the base desire to play the game. Meaning that if gold sinks are weak, they obviously don't matter anyway, and if they are strong, people will go out of their way to bypass them (directly by doing things that have the same effect without the gold sink, such as walking/going through PvP instead of map traveling, or indirectly by farming gold to make up for the gold sink effect). The reason this alleviates the gold sink effect is that the gold sink is not attached to the market, and perhaps even more importantly, not associated to the NPC merchant (which almost literally is a printing press for money).
Therefore, gold sinks can temporarily fight inflation, but only until gear saturation is reached (after that, the effect of hundreds of thousands of people selling stuff to the NPC merchant is too much to handle).
Of course gold sinks could be made so severe, and so impossible to bypass, that the total amount of gold in the system simply doesn't go up. This would also mean that players could never get richer, which would be boring and a chore for most people. It is not a good idea.
Another idea could be to implement durability on all gear and either make repairs impossible or make them consume other gear (so that gear can't be turned into gold). This is the system used in for example Fallout 3. It's very hard to get right even in a single-player game, probably more so in an MMO.
Yet another idea would be to put the gold sink in the market: replace both the trading post and the NPC merchant with an anonymized trading post which simply keeps track of every type of item in the game and the amount of such items sold to the trading post, and sets the prices accordingly. Payment would have to be up front, but since the price setting is done by the server, not human players, they could be adjusted to minimize inflation and yet make people rich.