FFXIV – Tax Hike Shenanigans

In my shock about the materia changes, I completely missed a critical line buried in all the chaos.

Fees are now charged for items bought from the market board when the player is in the city where the item was listed.

A little context first, I think. When you want to sell things in Final Fantasy XIV you have to put them in a special inventory for your retainers. I believe the logic is that they are theoretically at the market selling your stuff while you’re busy saving the multiverse. Each one of those retainers has a city-state assigned as its home location. While sellers always paid the marketboard tax this wasn’t the case for buyers.

Before the change a buyer could travel to any marketboard under the influence of the matching city-state and pay 0% tax. This is generally saving you money (but not time) for anything but the least expensive goods. Purchase amounts > 25k were a good guideline, depending on where you are and where you’re going.

Due to this, most servers ended up with an emergent “default market” where most people sold their goods. At least on Lamia, it was generally Limsa.

Now, buyers will also pay the same tax rate as the seller, regardless of circumstances.

The question, as always, is why. Squenix generally plays this kind of thing close to the chest and as far as I know, hasn’t spoken about this change. There are two explanations I see floating around at the moment though.

  • Inflation – The Good Ol’ Standby

For as many people as I see running around touting inflation as an issue that needs to be addressed, I have yet to see anyone offer actual data backing that claim up. While the baseline definition of “too much money chasing too few goods” is fairly possible, much of our monetary policy in the real world revolves around finance, which doesn’t exist in this economy.

What tiny fractional bit of data I personally have seen showed deflation, not inflation, but that was only a single item (out of about 11,000) with a very low price point, so I wouldn’t hang my hat on it.

This is one of the goals I’m working toward with my research, but there’s only one of me and my knowledge and resources are limited. One day, friends, one day.

  • Real Money Trading (RMT)

I’m actually favoring this idea at the moment for both tax and materia changes, though I’m not sure about effectiveness. Squenix hates, I mean hates, RMT. I would absolutely believe that this change out of nowhere is a deliberate attempt to inconvenience them.

I just don’t see how raising taxes for buyers is an effective tactic. Maybe I don’t understand how RMT works in XIV, but I was under the impression they primarily cheesed dungeons to get the money they’re selling. I mean, that’s the point, they’re sellers collecting money in order to sell it for real money. You might could make a case for cross-server trading, kinda like market trading in EVE Online, but if it’s profitable enough to outpace other methods of making money then I don’t see how a 5% tax is more than an inconvenience.

Materia change totally makes sense though, even the low-grade stuff carried a decent value and allowing players to flood the market and drop the price would have a direct impact on materia as a source of income.

  • What happens now?

Well, in the economic sense, all goods are getting more expensive, but only for buyers. On its own, the micro-level should show a lower demand for most goods. At the macro level, it would theoretically lower inflation, though how quickly that happens is debatable. I haven’t even considered how to measure price “stickiness” at the macro level. I’ll… put it on the ever-expanding list.

It’s also hard to really gauge how impactful it will be, though. There are so many other little bits that feed into all this and each good will respond a little different. There are actually a number of smaller tweaks I’ve been picking up on too, like cutting or curbing the payout for collectible turn-in. Small little tweaks here and there.

I’ve just about got the basic shell of my data collection script up and running. If I get a chance I may try to finish it this weekend and begin collecting data to see if anything interesting occurs. Wish I had gotten to it a bit sooner so I would have some better before/after data, but life goes on.

I can sit here and talk about expectations all day long, but data is king. I don’t want to expect, I want to know.

Y’all take care, maybe hold off on buying goods for resale in FFXIV. This just doesn’t seem like a great time to be buying.

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