FFXIV – RIP Materia Prices

UPDATE (2/22): Some of the things in this article about spiritbond were incorrectly reported or not reported at all. Spiritbond resets to 1% when the materia is extracted, so most of the time burden is still present.

Such a sensationalist headline, that. It’s always an interesting day when two things that are generally separate parts of my life bump into each other. My ongoing quest in pursuit of academic research in the field of economics has led to some interesting changes in my thought process. When I read articles or listen to podcasts, I occasionally hear things that stand out as great examples of economic concepts and/or their application. The complete patch notes for FFXIV’s 5.2 update is one of those things.

I was just casually scrolling through the changes, with nothing really standing out or unexpected, when suddenly:

Materia can now be extracted from fully spiritbound gear without losing the original item.

What?! For those not familiar with the materia system in FFXIV, any piece of gear used long enough to go from 0% to 100% spiritbond could be converted to materia, an item that can be “attached” to gear for small stat bonuses. Not really a big deal until you get into the more end-game sort of content. I, for one, never bothered until I reached the active raid tier around 4.1.

It takes quite a long time to fully spiritbond a piece of gear and it was destroyed in the process, creating a very heavy time investment to obtain. Even then, there was a range of possible outcomes only one or two of which were typically desirable. Other methods to obtain these items were also slow and typically time or role-gated.

As a result, materia was expensive, especially if you were after crafting/gathering materia. There was a low and costly supply to a market that had a significant demand. Everyone in the mid to high raid tier needed it. It was a fairly good way to make money if you wanted to put the time in.

Economists have a concept called “opportunity cost,” which is simply what else you could have done with the resources you have given up. Is the piece of gear a direct cost or an opportunity cost? That’s a question for another post, I think. Regardless of the answer, though, it is a cost or was, anyway.

My immediate reaction is that materia prices are headed into the toilet. With a reduced cost, the available supply is going to increase significantly because the burden on the producer is all but gone. Yeah, there’s still a very high initial investment required, but for an active player using end-game gear it’s not uncommon to hit spiritbond by the time new gear tier drops and the materia tier doesn’t tend to shift much between expansions.

A few caveats before I wander off. It’s always possible that the demand is so intense that it minimizes this price drop. Not everyone is going to bother with the effort of constantly extracting materia from their gear, or use gear most likely to spit out what’s in demand. I’m not well versed in which gear sets spit out which materia, so I would expect anything specific to tank or healer gear to hold its value a little better because there are fewer of them, generally speaking.

None of this is based on hard data, it’s merely conjecture based on relatively simple supply and demand concepts. With the ability to more efficiently grind out materia, it creates some interesting new opportunities to make money even though the unit price is likely going down.

I may look into the data down the road and see how this pans out. Either way, y’all take care, and I hope none of you invested in materia yesterday.

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