Jake knew when the phone rang it was trouble. It was fire season in the Sierra Nevadas so, as a smokejumper, he knew it was only a matter of time before the call came. Answering the phone, Jake learned he was going to be a supervisor this year – which was good for the bank statement, but it meant being away from home for several weeks at a time. His brother would take the dog and his sister would mind his fish, but that wasn’t what he was most worried about. Who could he trust to manage his Star Citizen account to prevent his Vanduul, Constellation, and his brand new Starfarer from being impounded for non-payment of garage fees? When he bought the Starfarer with the ore processing modules this morning, he knew he was cutting his balance close. He wasn’t too worried, though, because he knew even a couple of shipping contracts in the Starfarer would solve that problem. Now he had to leave for the airfield right away, so Jake had a problem…
Modern in-game economies feature recurring charges to act as money sinks. Without some way to regularly siphon meaningful sums of money from the economy, adverse effects like rampant inflation and even dying interest in the game can result. Money sinks are often in the form of regular periodic fees. In Star Citizen, likely examples of periodic money sinks will be garage fees, insurance, guild membership fees, and subscriptions to services.
There is a good poll in the forums about different kinds of money sinks. The thread conversation, at least the last time I scrolled through it, was pretty good. You should check it out.
This post isn’t about what money sinks CIG ought to consider. It’s about a feature I strongly encourage CIG to implement – the Economic Pause Button.
Gamers have real lives and, sadly, sometimes our real lives interrupt our gaming efforts. As we saw with Jake, these interruptions sometimes occur unexpectedly and/or the duration can be measured in weeks. Money sinks keep hitting our account even when we are not logged in, which can be a real problem if a player has to be gone for a lengthy period.
What Star Citizen needs is an Economic Pause Button. The Economic Pause Button would allow “pausing” or “freezing” accounts for increments of at least one week. This allows those who have an unavoidable absence from the game due to real life to avoid getting hammered with money sink fees.
Let’s say a player has a business trip and will be gone for two weeks. The player goes into her account settings and chooses to freeze her account for 14 days starting on a day she chooses. All recurring fees incrementing on a daily basis are frozen. So are any bids she has made on contracts she would have to be in game to fulfill (like combat escort or shipping). An option for her to suspend bids for items in any marketplace could be included. Any open contracts, however, with NPCs/humans she has where she is the payor (shipping, bounty, etc) would remain open so her absence doesn’t harm another player.
If the player returns before the 14 days are up, she can “un-pause” her account – but the “penalty” is all those frozen recurring charges will be posted to her account balance immediately.
(I would code this penalty to round to the nearest week. If our example returned from her trip early and un-paused her account on day 11, the first week’s charges would remain forgiven but she would be charged for days 8-11.)
I thought this would be a good post to make on Christmas Eve, despite having to post it over dial up (!), because so many of us are traveling or otherwise away from our gaming rigs. For our servicemen and servicewomen, firefighters like Jake, students during finals week, and/or businesspeople who travel, the Economic Pause Button would be an easy, player-friendly feature to implement.