Fallout 76 Players Can Now Set Up Their Own Stores, But Bethesda Taxes Their Goods

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1789 letter. Fallout 76 players have long been acquainted with the first, but following the addition of a new vending machine mechanic, they are being forced to come to terms with the second.

Yesterday’s patch added a number of things to the game, including backpacks and a new set of mini-quests inspired by the great outdoors. The most anticipated new piece of content was player vending machines.

Players have been allowed to trade items with one another since the game was released, but the new vending machines allow them to set up little automated stores at their campsites that anyone can use while they’re away. Players simply stock the shelves with the items they want to sell, set the prices, and then go back to exploring the wasteland. But there’s a catch. Every sale comes with a 10% tax.

“You will receive a notification whenever a player buys one of your items. 90% of the sale price will be added to your Cap balance,” read the latest patch notes. “This 10% fee has been designed to help maintain the health of the game’s economy and mitigate inflation.”

Note that caps are not Fallout 76’s premium currency. They are only found in-game and can only be earned by killing monsters, selling stuff to robot vendors, and trading with other players. This apocalyptic cash is hard-earned, in other words. So, naturally, some players aren’t happy about the prospect of Bethesda dipping its invisible hands into their purses like some sort of Sheriff of Appalachia.

“How does taking 10% of our caps in player vending ‘help support a healthy game economy?’ wrote user Panickedsoul on the game’s subreddit. “You know what this will actually do? It will make us charge more than we actually want for the items in order to make up the difference. I would love to know how this helps players at all.”

Players charging more to make up the difference is indeed one of the things that’s been happening. Reddit user femiwhat posted a quick refresh on how percentages work to make sure that people who were inflating their prices to make up for the tax didn’t undercut themselves.

And then there’s the fact that Bethesda already theoretically taxes players for fast travelling. While the few dozens of caps it takes to get from Vault 76 to Whitesprings is a drop in the bucket for most high-level players, it can still be a pain for those just starting out. A flat sales tax is regressive, and those with the fewest possessions to sell feel it the most accurately.

Other players are more onboard with Bethesda’s explanation for the tax. “Having multiple ways to get caps out of servers (out of players pockets and not into another’s) helps to reduce the overall amount of caps floating around in players pockets,” wrote Reddit user aburple.

“Having a fast travel cost caps and implementing a tax in these new vending machines help to accomplish that goal. Personally I think we need even more ways to get rid of our caps.”

The game currently limits how many caps a character can hold to 25,000. In addition, the amount a character can earn in a given time period is limited by the number of public events that occur and the daily refresh of robot inventories.

Some people who have been playing from the beginning already have multiple characters at the cap limit, which is why they’d like to see more of the currency taken out of circulation so it can actually be worth something for them again.

This gets at one of the hardest parts of regulating an economy like Fallout 76’s, let alone keeping it healthy. Because the game operates across an invisible list of servers that players randomly get dropped into, there are wide disparities at any given time between the people playing together. You might be surrounded by players who have everything or those with nothing, grinding any sort of organic commerce to a halt.

Since the 10% tax doesn’t hit wealthier players harder, or redistribute to the poorer ones, it doesn’t change the underlying economic balance, or lack thereof, in the game. Still, the addition of a tax is another interesting evolution of Fallout 76’s world. It could be just the beginning of other interventions in the game’s economy.

One of the most popular proposals currently is for the tax revenue to go toward building a permanent residence for the game’s travelling, friendly mutant Grahm.


Comments

    Of course they are being taxed, they can't afford for people to not feel like cash cows being milked for every cent.

    All jokes aside this is disgusting, it makes sense in a free to play game as they need to create incentives for you to use the in game store, but in a title you have paid for that is ridiculous, so glad I didn't go in on this dumpster fire.

      Did you even read or understand the article? Your comment makes no sense whatsoever. This change has zero impact on the atom store as you can't use caps in the atom store!

        How long you wanna bet that it takes for resource packs will be added so lazy people don't have to farm?

        I didn't say anything about spending caps in the atom store, only that these systems are meant to make people seek other ways of getting resources, like in game stores.

        Sounds like what is happening in ESblades as the devs aim to wring every dollar they can from customers.

          It seems premature to criticise them for something they haven't actually done yet. Currency sinks are a perfectly normal and very common technique to take money out of the system and limit inflation, used in basically every MMO out there, among other places. The currency sink on its own isn't a problem.

          It only becomes a problem if you add a hypothetical future decision to start charging real money for caps. But the problem with that is it's obvious such a decision would be intensely unpopular, so much so that any relationship it may have to currency sinks would be dwarfed in comparison.

          It'd be like saying Steam allowing adult games was bad because if they decide to force all Steam users to publicly display their real names on their profiles in future then their porn habits might be revealed for all to see. Aside from the fact the latter is unlikely to happen, it's so much bigger than the former that they might as well be unrelated.

    This is just a stupid way of managing a badly implemented economy and makes zero sense to the game world.

    As for players raising their prices to compensate, that's exactly why they added the tax, so they don't have to manage their own mechanics better.

      Yeah it doesn't help anyone really! Far better would be to remove the cap cap so that you don't need 5 characters to buy an item!

      Higher prices means more taxes.

      Bethesda wins again.

    There are some basic economics in play here, that serve a bigger purpose.

    As you kill stuff, you get caps. If there are no ways to remove caps from the system, the amount of caps only ever goes up. Eventually, prices follow, simply because people have more, and are comfortable paying more. It happens in most games with an economy.

    To balance that, you need ways to remove currency from the game. Basically, ways players spend on NPC's and not other players. Taking a couple of caps for fast travel isnt going to do it, you need ways to get rid of a lot more caps than that. One way is to have NPC's you can buy stuff from, the other is essentially taxes.

    They've gone down the second path. End of the day, it wont hurt players. They'll adapt, things will settle into a new routine, and the game will go on.

    We saw it 20 years ago when GST came in. Some things went up (and others went down), we absorbed the cost, and life went on. This is effectively little different to that. They've simply introduced GST/VAT/Sales Tax as the cost of setting up an ingame store.

    You can still trade to other players, so if you dont like that tax, dont pay it.

      All true but at least in most games it can be explained or attributed to the world itself, symbolic as it may be you can at least pretend the money is going back in to the economy.

      All this does is break the immersion and highlight how bad the balance is.
      They could've just as easily created an auction hub run by droids, claimed it was an initiative created by survivors to facilitate trade and taken tax as a means of maintaining the hub and the defences it uses to create a no fire zone, anything that didn't slap the player in the chops with their real world problems.

      The game is still growing and there's always ways to change stuff in the future but it really doesn't help when it's already hard enough to throw yourself in to a world that doesn't seem to be trying all that much.

        Its nothing new though. As Dirtyshado points out below its something thats been in MMO's for a long time, whether it straight up disappears through an NPC, or as an auction fee. There have been University level studies on these economics, its not a small thing. You need ways to get currency out of the game or inflation ruins it.

        To criticise FO76 for doing what just about every other MMO has done for over 20 years comes across as exceptionally hypocritical to me. It seems that because its FO76, any change = bad and must be complained about. Nobody complains that WoW or GW2 has a 10% auction fee for essentially the same thing.

        If you want the easy excuse, imagine the vending machines having a sticker saying that 10% of all sales will be withheld as a maintenance cost, or it being an unseen clause in the players imaginary contract with whoever supplied the machines. Why do they need to explain it? No other MMO does, its the players imagination that fills in the gaps so why doesnt that apply here?

        To me this is a good step at a good time. Much longer, and there is too much currency in the game for any new player to compete. And isnt that one of the goals here? To reform the game to the point new players play it? As you say, its hard enough now. Having to compete with inflation as well makes it that much harder so helping avoid that is a good thing, not a bad thing.

          Nobody is refuting the economic factor but you are kind of ignoring that it's not the only factor when talking about games.
          Building and balancing a believable world is as much a science as economics.

          For example, yes, it's a common practice in MMO's but you can't deny that most MMO's tend to ground the principles to the game world themselves and carefully try to avoid highlighting the real world application where possible.
          Most MMO's will use language like, "The auction house will take 10% of all transactions", rather than flat out saying, "We the developer are taking 10% to combat inflation.
          While the effort is minor it's still an effort that makes a world of difference to the game itself.

          If we look only at the real world
          aspects then the joke comments here carry just as much weight, where are our tax returns, refundable expenses and tax revenue funded services?
          Because if it's economics 101 as you say then combating inflation is an outcome of tax but not its main function correct?
          If the answer to that is that it's just a game then I don't see why it's wrong to expect developers to roll this sort of thing out with a little bit more flair.

          Should also point out that many of those MMO's also have a much more substantial and robust economy in which to manage aspects like inflation rather than adding it in to make up for a lack of content.
          They have also been subject to complaints on the matter too, especially when taking about games suffering the same problems so I don't think it's as hypocritical as you make out.

          I would actually agree that it's a good step at a good time but I also don't think it was the best step at such an early time and doesn't speak well for the state of the economy itself.

    Now all they need to do is add a quarterly business activity statement feature. If the goods you buy from another player's vending machine are legitimate business expenses, surely you should be able to count the tax paid as a credit against the tax collected by your own vending machines.

      MYOB FO76 Edition?

        Why not. And the cost of doing your pretend accounting should also count as a deduction against the pretend tax you pay.

    While the game has a bad economy design... this is a very standard concept in online games especially MMORPGs. I cant think of an MMO that doesnt take a percentage to reduce inflation curve.

    A percentage from successful sales on Auction Houses in game. It serves as a gold sink to mitigate inflation.

    While NPC vendors destroy all gold they recieve there is a shift late game to high end and crafted materials that just end up circulating the gold between players and this creates inflation as more gold is earnt and less NPC goods are purchased.

    While players are free to trade amongst themselves in games, when a game mechanic like this offers convenience its a choice time to limit currency spawning.

      Yup. So far all I see is economics 101. They've simply put in a sales tax, something pretty common in MMO's for a long time.

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