For most MMO games (especially ones where players can interact and trade with each other), there is a natural market progression where initially players have minimal currency and equipment and then gradually gain more of both as they progress through the game. However, eventually most players reach some sort of max level endgame and possess basically all the in-game gear they could ever want. While this isn’t a problem for single-player game developers as most single-player games follow a model where the player pays for the full price of the game at the very beginning, it does present an issue for multi-player games and their developers.
Multi-player games often use a recurring payments approach where the player will pay a certain fee every x days. And obviously, people will be less likely to continue playing a game if they are at the max level, have all the gear, and have completed all the content. So to prevent this situation from occurring, multiplayer-game developers constantly add new levels, gear, and content so players continue to keep paying for the game.
Path of Exile (POE), unlike these aforementioned multi-player games, is free-to-play and makes its money solely off of cosmetic and UI micro transactions, meaning hypothetically you could play all of POE’s content without spending a single dollar. Like these other games though, POE wants to keep players engaged and playing longer as that increases the likelihood players will purchase these micro transactions. And POE also faces the related issue of devalued items and currency as players progress through the game, which then leads to player interest in the game dropping. POE has managed to solve both the in-game and real-world money question via the same method–its unique league system–which I will detail in my next post.