Friday, January 15, 2010

How Tanks Are Like The Interest Rate

Gelvon has an interesting but flawed post while doing an economic analysis of tanks in WoW.

He maintains that tanks are getting "paid" enough in game to be tanks. What he misses are the roles of the lower zero bound and policy interference distorting the market for tanks (disregarding my arguments from What does WoW teach? for the moment--we'll play in Gelvon's ideal, rational, economic garden.)

The Random Dungeon Finder and the Interest Rate have the same lower bound: zero. Queuing up for a dungoen can't get any faster than instant. The "market" signal breaks at zero. It can't reward me any more than an instant group--it can't give me a minus 5 minute queue time that might be the real (though absurd) number to plotting out supply and demand curves. Just like the current interest rate can't go lower than 0, even though the Taylor rule implies something like a -5.6% interest rate.

Then there is the severe policy distortion depressing the demand for tanks. There are basically four group-play styles in WoW: solo, group, 10-man and 25-man. Each of them employs an ideal percentage of tanks: solo: zero, groups: 20%, 10-man raids 20%, and 25 man raids--8-12% (2-3 tanks in 25s). The value of tanking is strongly devalued in both solo play and 25 man play. Assuming that all tanks are "acting rationally" and want to tank 25 man raids so they can get the best gear a rational analysis leads them to choose another role. If we have a "full employment" tanking rate in groups and 10 man content, there will be 50% unemployment at the highest levels of the game for tanks. (In fact, the reason I am learning to DPS on Guthammer is so that I can, eventually, break into a progression group--trying to get a tanking slot for an established group is neigh impossible--even with 4/5 T9.33 tanking gear.)

In the current design of WoW--ignoring barriers to entry (like the psychological issues of the previous post, or even having a tanking set)--
tanks are getting a much weaker demand single than the ideal market of groups and 10 man raids are setting due to limitations of the instant queue times in the RDF, and severe demand dislocations in both the solo and 25 man raid portions of the game.

Now,to think of a solution, preferably a "fiscal" one--that doesn't give rewards to tanks so that long term they end up queuing less.

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