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Neverwinter

Developer Note: State of Astral Diamonds

By Andy (StrumSlinger)
Mon 16 Nov 2015 12:24:31 PM PST

Greetings,

Lately we’ve been taking a closer look at the Astral Diamond economy in Neverwinter. This is something that, in the past, we have always watched but not closely scrutinized. It’s something we now know should be a regular part of the dev process. We want to keep a closer eye on the AD economy and we know we can do better.

It turns out that managing economies is hard and complex. Dealing with two economies is even harder, but we are up for the challenge. There are several things that need to happen in the short term. We know players need ways to earn enough AD, and that AD vendor prices need to be in a place that makes sense. We want to make sure those things are true. Right now, we think it’s sometimes too hard to earn AD, and some of the prices are too high, so we’re making some changes. We’ll keep watching, and we’ll make more changes if needed.

The AD economy is pretty different in PC and in Xbox One, so we’ve been looking at each of them individually. Neverwinter PC has been around for a while, and there’s a lot of AD in the economy. Some of that is due to exploits, and we need to continue to be vigilant and shut those down. We’ve made some good progress there, and while things aren’t perfect, we think there’s a healthier amount of AD in the system now. On Xbox One, there’s the opposite problem — there just isn’t enough AD in the economy. We don’t want to split into two different games. There is a large amount of complexity that is added to development if the game becomes too dissimilar. Because we want to make and maintain simple and effective changes things will mostly be the same between PC and Xbox One, but we will be looking at ways to help Xbox One catch up a bit and get more AD into the Xbox One economy.

Before we get into changes, we’re going to show you some of the data that led us here.

One way to see how much more AD is floating around in PC than in Xbox One is by looking at the difference in the Zen/AD Exchange (ZAX):

  • Xbox One ZAX: 140 AD per Zen
  • PC ZAX: 400 AD per Zen

 

Imagine what this means for a player who wants to convert Zen to Astral Diamonds to buy something, say a pet, from the Wondrous Bazaar. That player will have to spend almost three times as much Zen on Xbox One as they would on PC! And if the player compares that cost to the cost of a pet in the Zen store, it makes it hard to see the point of the Wondrous Bazaar. The same thing holds true for the AD economy in general — if prices are too high, and sources are too low, it’s hard to see participation in the AD economy as viable, and again the ZAX becomes irrelevant.

As we’ve mentioned in other posts, the ZAX is incredibly important because it gives players with time (but not money) a way to trade relevant currencies with those who have money (but not time). Neverwinter is free to play and you never have to spend real money on anything if you don’t want to. You can and should be able to earn enough AD to get what you want from the in-game AD store and from the Zen Market, via the ZAX. We want to make sure the ZAX stays healthy. And, of course, we also want to make sure the AD earn and AD prices for both PC and Xbox One are healthy as well.

Let’s look at what made these economies so disparate: botting Leadership (first on Gateway, and then in-game).

  • At its peak, on PC, Leadership was accounting for more than 80% of the daily earned AD. This is a whole lot of AD earned by botters and exploiters!

 

We realize the Leadership changes were rough on some players, but they really did help:

  • In July, PC players were earning 171,000 AD per player. But if you take out the Leadership exploits, it was only 34,000 AD per player!
  • In October, after the exploits were addressed, and the new AD sources were in place, the average was 60,000 AD per player. So most players were making a lot more.
  • On Xbox One (where the botting was not an issue), AD per player went up from 32,000 to 39,000 from July to October.
  • On PC, the Zen/AD Exchange in July continued to be capped out at its maximum of 500. This means many trades did not go through for weeks or even months. But by October, the Exchange was working smoothly again, and the people who wanted to use it could.

 

Why didn’t Xbox One have the same issues? We dealt with a large amount of the botting and exploiting before launch. Xbox One also doesn’t have access to Gateway like PC does, so the effect of botting AD never impacted the economy like it did on PC.

We know that in order to correctly support the community, make it fun and rewarding to play, and dissuade botters and exploiters, we need to reward playing the game and engaging with the community rather than reward automated earning. We are making several changes to the AD economy and watching each of those changes across all platforms.

Here are the changes that will be going live on PC for Underdark on November 17 and in the near future for Xbox One. These are changes that increase earn rates and decrease prices on both platforms:

  • +50% Astral Diamonds earned for gameplay-focused activities: dungeons, skirmishes, PvP, and the weekly quests mentioned in a prior post.
    • This includes the base activity, the daily rewards, and the daily limits to what you can earn for these activities (the stuff that Rhix talks about).
  • An increase to the daily AD refinement cap from 24,000 to 36,000.
  • Companion price reductions: we know companions can get pretty expensive. We think it’s fun to have several, though, and we want that to be viable. We also want you to be able to upgrade (increase the quality of) a specific companion if you love your pet, not just discard it for some other purple — right now that’s so expensive it’s not very practical. We think it’s OK for it to be a little more expensive to upgrade a specific companion. But it shouldn’t be ridiculously more expensive than buying a brand-new companion (of the upgraded color). With that in mind, we’re making some changes:
    • Lower prices for the Wondrous Bazaar companions. These blue companions used to cost 650,000 – 800,000 AD; they now all cost 400,000 AD.
    • Significantly lower costs to upgrading a companion at the lower qualities:
      • White to Green: was 300,000 AD, now 50,000 AD
      • Green to Blue: was 500,000 AD, now 250,000 AD
      • Blue to Purple: was 750,000 AD, now 500,000 AD
      • Purple to Orange is staying the same (1,000,000 AD).
  • Exploit fix: There was a severe AD-farming exploit involving Planar Idols and Astral Resonators (items that appear in certain older lockboxes). Earlier attempts to fix them did not work. So we’ve changed how they work completely — they still give the same amount of AD to anyone using them without the exploit, but the exploit should no longer be possible.

 

We hope these changes will make it easier for more players to get the AD they need, and to find fun things to spend it on. We’ll keep watching the AD economy (both PC and Xbox One), keeping an eye out for exploits, the earn rates of honest players, and what people are spending their hard-earned AD on. We plan to take a look at some more AD prices — are they in a good place? If nobody is buying something, should its price be lowered? Should we just get rid of it because nobody wants it (the level 60 AD gear, for example, doesn’t have a good place in the game right now)? Or is it a specialty item that should be left alone, a thing that needs to be there even if it’s not that popular? Further on down the line, we hope to be taking a look at AD prices in the Campaigns and in Strongholds to make sure they are healthy.

With these changes and our plan to continue to evaluate AD and its place in Neverwinter, we would like to reiterate that our team is continuously looking at feedback from our players. Please keep the feedback coming through our forums, Twitter, Reddit, etc. When looking at the AD system as a whole we’ll always want to have some cheap things and some expensive things, but we want to do it in a way that makes sense, a way that feels fair, and a way that always gives you something fun to aim for, something that’s within reach.

Thank you for your continued support while we work to improve the AD sources, prices and the AD economy overall in Neverwinter.

-Rob Overmeyer

Executive Producer

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