Tarkov needs more Free Market

In a recent 0.10 preview post, the developers announced that the "flea market" will be in the next patch, in August. Let's take a look at what they said:

"Sell your loot in rag fairs and auctions."

Perhaps this would finally fix the static loot progression. At first I got excited. But then I read this:

"A: Flee market is a system that allows every player, when he hits a certain level, to put his items on sale. So you can put on sale any item in any amount and request certain items, that you have examined, in exchange (examined items will be included in the Codex). Number of your offers is limited, you can increase it by increasing your Trading skill. Every player will have a trading reputation which will provide certain bonuses. And most importantly – Flee market will have Advanced Search that will help to find, for example, certain weapon mods, ammo etc. There will be a convenient cataloging of all goods. Also, every trade will affect the market price of an item traded, so prices will become dynamic, market will regulate itself."

This is what I predict they plan to do:

  • Traders will still sell guns for normal prices, but these prices will slightly get adjusted depending on how much it is bought.
  • So if an AK74 still sells for 35k, then there will never be a market for an AK74 between players, because why go through the extra clicks of finding a player offer, when you can get the gun for the loot of one dead scav? This will will also remove anything below an AK74 from the game, this means pistols, shotguns, smgs. Just like now, where no one uses them except for one hour after a wipe.
  • If the price "dynamically" creeps up by 5k this won't change it.
This is not a free market, this is a static market where the developers give players the illusion of a free market but everything is static and controlled. Want to see how?

Oh look, they recently added "dynamic" barter trades that appear to change every day(?). The younger and economically less experienced players will assume this is a great thing. A barter economy, where you can only trade stuff by trading items that someone needs, instead of cash. Yay that is so hardcore!


Here is what is actually happening:

These "dynamically" changing barter trades, on first glance shake up the static item for gun trades from before. But they are still static, because they are dictated by the devs (and heavens forbid) streamers and/or suggestions from players to streamers.


Younger players tend to emotionally overreact when they are left in charge of balance. They will:

  • Overexagerrate game issues to cover up when something bad happens ingame. Examples are "HALP scav sniped me from 300 meters with a shotgun!". This usually is claimed when a player is near the exit and dies from a scav hit while carrying a backpack full of loot. Of course it was a stray pellet from 27 meters, because the AI has great difficulty even noticing a player beyond 30 meters. The better the loot he carried, the more outrageous the claim will be. If he had carried 5 thermal scopes, the claim would have been "HALP scav sniped me from 5 kilometers with a shotgun!"
  • Base their balancing decisions on what just happened to them in the factory office tunnel. It goes like this:
    • OP weapon = weapon that was just used successfully against player.
    • OP armor = armor that successfully stopped a bullet because shooter bought something cheap.
    • Overpriced = Any expensive item they want right now.  
  • Overreact when balancing something. Often without even testing its supposed "OP". Nikita himself probably was pre-emptively victim of these decisions himself. Remember the IR scope refresh rate? The visors? Nerfed into the ground and then beyond to make sure no one ever fights these items in combat. This is a classic balance mistake, throwing out the baby with the bath water out of fear something OP might well, be OP in combat.
These tendencies will always lead to a soft, casual balance, because anything inconvenient is knowingly, or sometimes unknowingly balanced away. No hard edges. No frustration. But hardcore requires hard edges, uncomfortable difficulty.  But also understand this:

"Hardcore does not mean how good of a player you are. It means how much difficulty as a player you are willing to endure. How many difficult decisions you have to make in combat and in stash. It is about having fun in complex situations the game creates."

21st century poet, 50 fov player, 53 survival rate percenter, defeater of alien: isolation on hard, user of M1A with ironsights, first player who found this camp spot on interchange.

I demand this spot to be called the "cat nest". I found it I get to name it.


Let's focus on the main article again. What is wrong with 14 blue stripe cigarette packs for  a modified M1A?

  • It is an artificial need that is created by the developers. No player has a need for 14 packs of cigarettes.
  • If the deal changes soon, most players won't ever take that deal, because you can not find 14 packs of these in 3 days. And this creates a dilemma:
    • If you pre-emptively collect random barter items that look valuable from a distance, then you will have to use a lot of stash space for it. Of course a more paranoid person would consider this being intended by the devs to push for more sales of their EOD edition.
    • The other side of it is that if they want to allow players to collect enough items for that trade, they might keep this trade up for a longer time, which then takes the fun out of the "dynamic" ever changing barter economy. Because the trades are not swapped for weeks.

In either situation, the current "dynamic" barter trades are just the same old "collect 30 tushonkas", except they swap it out with different items. That is not dynamic.

Let me show you what would be dynamic:

There are two games that have a very dynamic element in the core of their gameplay. Dayz and L4D.
  • Dayz has no gated progression or level systems. When a player respawns, he can go where ever he wants to go. The best loot is at the North-West Airfield, so there is some directed progression, but the game still works the same way whereever you are on the map. Just the weapons you find are different. Closer to the coastal start areas, there is less military weaponry, but the dangers of survival in the game are present everywhere with the same intensity. You can get shot by a player with an M4 at the NW airfield, or you can get chased by a a guy with an axe or .22 pistol at the coast. And in either situation, the threat of having to find food, water, and sometimes shelter is present. I am leaving out all the problems with dayz in other areas for this article. But this one thing it got right, it removed the levels and difficulty ramps and allowed players to do what they want. There are no artificial limitations on where you are allowed to go or what you are allowed to find.

  • L4D got one thing amazingly right. That is the difficulty and intensity of  the game is dynamic and not dependant on a progression ramp in form of maps the campaigns. It is possible to get attacked by large hordes at any point in a map. And there is no difference if it is at the beginning of a 5 map campaign or in the last map. There are some focused situations where difficulty is tighter by level design, like the final battle at the end of the campaign, or the natural choke points on some maps. But the devs avoided the colossal mistake of making the first 3 maps in a campaign easy only to slowly ramp up the difficulty. Because experienced players would have skipped these maps and played only the hard ones.

Now try to isolate the key points from these games, the dynamic difficulty that is detached from progression. Especially Dayz allows you as a player to use your own smarts and get an advantage by playing better. You are not forced to stay in a lane until your level is high enough. What you can find and how you use it is entirely up to your skill as a player (==playerskill). This is missing in EFT when it comes to selection of gear. In EFT everything is dictated to you. The only freedom you have is when the gun battle starts. Anything outside of a raid is very strictly enforced and gated. No player skill is allowed. The only way to get better stuff is grind. This is where EFT has a split personality. In the raids it creates the greatest gun battles ever created in a videogame with my own player skill allowing me to overcome enemies that outmatch me (or be stupid). But outside of a raid it strictly forces players into level gated progress where there is no way to express player skill by playing better than others. But it should not be like that. Both parts of the game should be fully dynamic, not level gated, and only depend on player skill. Why does it have to be an epic milsim shooter on one side and a dumb grind mmo on the other side? Instead it could be an epic milsim shooter and an epic free market simulation.

In the current situation, EFT is stuck in an awful progression ramp, that is similar to a game like War Thunder. You slowly work your way through trader levels so you can buy the best gear eventually. And this has a catastrophic effect on keeping the game dynamic. Because everyone after a new patch, rushes as fast as they can through maps, with as little gear as possible, avoiding other players, just to get the quest items to unlock things. This means the first 5-7 weeks, everyone is doing the opposite of what the game was made for. No one seeks out firefights, everyone goes after loot. And the quest system made it worse.

The Quest System

No one likes the quest system. It is a static delaying mechanism to artificially stretch out content so players (in the example of 0.9) don't notice how little content there is in terms of guns and dynamic systems. Sure the armors are nice, but they dont change the game. muzzle brakes don't change it either. Jamming, medical items would. Imagine there was no wipe this patch, people would instantly see there is only 1.5 new guns (the glock 18c shares most of the animation work with existing glocks so I would not count it as a complete  and new gun). The SA-58 has an awful firing sound, and no attachments for it.

This is why the quest system is there, to slow down player progress, so they dont see instantly if a patch we waited for 3 months for is too light in content. Oh and that "partial" wipe. It's a lie. It was a 99% wipe, because if you do not do the quests, you will level up 5x slower. And here is proof no one likes the quests: They gated all the new loot behind them knowing that otherwise no one would play the quests. They are an annoying chore forced on players if they want to see the new weapons. And that is a really bad design flaw.

I am sick of it, I don't want to collect tushonkas / car batteries / cigarettes anymore.

Some might say it is an "integral part" of the game because of the story and quests and "personalized" quests. That is PR babble. If the only way they convey the story to us is by forcing us to do retarded fetch quests then they need to rethink it. I rather find audio tapes in the game world so I can listen to them to provide background story. The developers overestimate the players' excitement for the story. Because we make our own stories. The stories we remember are the legendary gun fights we had, not collecting 10 graphics cards because that was the faster way to level up than simply shooting oher players.

And what are "personalized quests "going to be? Let me guess something like this:

Please collect 30 more #BARTER_ITEM to find out what happened to #SCAV_NAME at #LOCATION_OF_RANDOM_CAR_ON_CUSTOMS.

Now an upgrade to that would be #BARTER_ITEM being swapped every few weeks and then they will auto-generate quests from that and the less informed players will be amazed at how "dynamic" and "content rich" the game is.

All of this quest stuff needs to be pushed into the background to be a voluntary layer of storytelling you can experience if you want to. What the game should have is that dynamic difficulty, right from the start.

Free Market

Imagine this:
  • Traders stop selling ANY weapons or ammo. They only provide quests or "loot boxes" that contain a very expensive modded weapon you can buy for specific barter items. (Exceptions might be very basic items like bandages or painkillers, but all for exorbitant prices).
  • All items have to be found in the game world.
  • The only way to get an item without finding it should be buying it from other players (flea market).
  • There should be no artificial price restrictions, the market has to be completely free.
  • For this to work, there MUST NOT EVER be any weapons to buy from traders. Because as soon as an AK74 is available for a price, that is a fixed price and the dynamic player market for that item will collapse.
  • Traders should not buy any items from players, except for rare exceptions. This means no more selling scav shotguns for money or any other stuff. Anything found by a player can only be made into money or other items by selling it to other players. This way the true value of items will emerge. 
  • Traders still offer services like repairs.

Only this will give us a free player market. What the developers currently intend, a static market with swapping of barter item trades with the AI slightly adjusting prices is not good enough. Give us a free market. It will work. It worked in EVE. And the system can be easily adjusted with changes of spawns of items. If an item becomes too rare, it can have increased spawns.

Note: The average player will most of the time claim that everything is too rare he currently wants. Does not mean the developes have to give in to it.

Here is why this is so important. It makes the game dynamic from day one, anything can happen on day one or day 500. No artificial loot progression, no trader levels. All weapons and equipment becomes useful for anyone depending on their current wealth. And the devs can still keep the traders ingame but put all of the trader/quest stuff into background so it does not get in the way of a dynamic experience.


If all of this would be in place, it would allow the player to make important decisions all the time.

When a player starts the raid:
  • Is my weapon going to jam?
  • Did I bring enough ammo?
  • Do I have a backup weapon?
  • Is the backup weapon chambered?
  • Do I have medical supplies?
  When A player is in combat:

  • Where can I bandage myself safely?
  • How much ammo can I use for suppressive fire?
  • Did I bring enough magazines?
  • Is my weapon powerful enough to defeat that enemy?
  • What loot off the corpse should I keep? What might other players buy from me?
In stash:
  • Can I find a body armor on the market?
  • Can I afford buying it for the items I have?
  • Can I get a better gun?
  • Can I get large magazines?
  • Should I bring the shotgun in good condition or risk going in with that AK74 with in poor condition?
  • What items will the market offer for me this session?
In the current static loot progression, most of these questions disappear 1 day after a wipe, because you can always afford an AK74 and you never have to use 10 round magazines. You never have to use a shotgun or a submachinegun. You are never excited over what you might find because everything is easily available for the price of 1-4 dead scavs.

Dynamic, forever, all the time

Have you noticed the highlighted and underlined piece of text above? What might other players buy from me? Imagine you could not offload any loot for fixed prices to traders. No more free cash and guaranteed 20k of loot from a scav. Anything you offer has to be worth something to someone else. This would send shotgun prices down hard along with any scav loot. Because it is common. And assault rifles would get a strong increase in price. And it would be all dynamic and player-driven. Every day, fully dynamic prices. Every day a challenge, every day exciting. And the game would be full of amazing treasures because anything of value will cost you stuff.  

Remember way back when you shot a sniper scav off a rock and his corpse ragdolled down so you could grab that ultra rare SKS with a dovetail mount? With PSO scope AND the eyecup?

I hope now you understand the connection to dayz and L4D, that dynamic core that keeps it replayable for years, without the need for a wipe.
And this should not be carefully managed or stabilized. Allow it to create price chaos. Devs only would have to adjust spawn rates and then the prices would fix themselves as the spawn rate change ripples through the economy.

If you agree on this, let the devs know. Show this to your friends. Now is the right time to show the devs that a full free market is the way to go while they are still designing the systems.

And if this is too divisive, then why not simply divide the game into 2 shards or playerbases? One for the current static system and one for a total free market. Eventually all players will wander off to the free market shard because once players experience the excitement of an unpredictable market they don't want to go back to AK74 for 35k +/- (*"free" market modifier).


  1. i like your standing and i totally agree with everything!

  2. I dont think that the dealers should stop selling weapons all together. Imagine this:
    1. The price dealers sell weapons for is directly correlated to the open market price.
    2. Players can only sell weapons on the market, not to dealers.

    This way the price will be dynamic and dictated by free market.

  3. Since there are infinite resources, i think there would be an inflation pretty fast. Imagine dont playing for 3 months after a wipe and find that an ak costs 400k. When everyone has 500mil why would they even bother selling 10k items.


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