I will update all the actual costs (corrected for component values), and generally fill out this table, shortly. I've done the spreadsheet and translated it into this rather grim ascii table format a couple of times but lost my work both times, once during the move to Strategy Core and once by pure carelessness on my part. Try, try again! Spike 17:45, 1 October 2008 (CDT)
- Wow, I love what you've done with the table. I had hoped if I left it partially filled out, someone might be motivated to fill it out, but you did one better (adding the payback column) . And please, if you (or anyone else) has sufficient vocabulary to replace the word profit with what I was trying to talk say, you have my deepest blessing. --SgtKlaos 01:42, 29 November 2008 (CST)
Thanks. It's on my Things To Do List to finish this TFTD economics data and also upload the same data for Enemy Unknown (with payback periods etc). It's probably identical but I need to double check before I upload it. I'm sort of on holiday at the moment so maybe I'll get to it. Spike 16:24, 29 November 2008 (CST)
Real Economics (moved from main page)
[re Analysis section]
The reason for this financial miracle is a market with infinite demand, and a pure monopoly by Xcom. In the real world, certain products, for instance Coca Cola, or Vodka, have much higher margins based on their manufacturing cost and sale price. However, they have huge marketing costs which are needed to upkeep the brand names. Jasonred
- That doesn't really explain it. There is an infinite, inelastic demand for all products in the game, regardless of whether they are profitable or massively unprofitable. XCom has a monopoly in all of them. Also, while there are variable margins in the real world, there are few negative margins - certainly not for long. And variable margins are not only explained by marketing, though that is one mechanism of boosting profit margins. Basically, the game does has a bad/non-existent economic model that bears no relation to reality. Arguably the designers intentions were not to simulate reality, but to get good game balance. I'm not sure they got that either, though they are much closer to game balance than they are to realistic economics. Spike 16:40, 14 April 2009 (EDT)
- Well, in the first place, a market with infinite demand is impossible. Pure monopolys are also almost impossible. ... When you get right down to it, you could count the alien pacts as a form of competition.
- There are negative margins. For instance, scientists have been able to nuclear transmute lead into gold. Unfortunatly, the process is ridiculously expensive, since it takes massive amounts of energy and labor and you end up only transmuting a few atoms. Negative margin simply means "this is not a profitable activity... don't do it"
- Realistic economics... hah. You are right, the games is MILES off from that. As for game balance... er... yeah, I find Xcom relatively balanced, actually. ... If you are talking about how building a Laser Cannon factory is so massively profitable, I would point out that the initial outlays needed are so big that you can usually just win the game by the time you can afford to do so. Jasonred 17:50, 14 April 2009 (EDT)
Almost all of the profitable manufacturing activities would be considered very good commercial investments. A Gauss Cannon factory, with an annual Return on Investment of nearly 1100%, would be considered an economic miracle. Even the Particle Disturbance Sensor (RoI just over 300%) would have investors beating down the doors. The only tricky part would be insuring the factory site against Alien attack. The simple explanation for this would be that X-com has a monopoly, and is selling something that is rather close to contraband, has the government paying tribute to it, has unlimited demand for it's products, and does not pay for advertising. For comparison, imagine what Pepsi would be worth if there were no other soft drinks in the market and their budget for annual advertisements became pure profit. Or a pharmaceutical company which didn't have to pay for R&D, patenting, safety tests, red tape, bribes, etc. A Chinese take-away could in theory achieve 1100& returns though, assuming each dish costs $1.50 in ingredients and labor, and sells for $5, assuming it sold food as fast as they could cook it.
I removed the bolded part from the main page because it is not an explanation at all, much less a simple one. What I've left on the main page is factual rather than conjectural. Yes, this could be an explanation if demand for all XCOM products was like these examples, but it completely fails to explain why a not very obvious handful of XCOM products have incredible RoI, whereas other eminently desirable products (hypersonic fighter aerospacecraft anyone?) attract hugely negative RoI. Yes, of course, XCOM is some kind of monopoly, and of course that explains high profits. But it in no way explains the huge variations in profitability between products. And even for a monopoly, the 1100% RoI is off the charts. I have some beefs with the pharma, Pepsi and restaurant examples as well, but that's secondary to the main point is that this is not an explanation of the very odd profitability picture. Of course, the real explanation is that the designers didn't analyse this aspect of the game. What I'm doing on the main page is not attempting to find an in-game explanation, I'm just pointing out how exceptional (and inconsistent) these profit levels are. Spike 12:11, 20 October 2012 (EDT)
What's Hot and What's Not
Well this is frustrating. I almost found a principle to explain what has high profitability and what does not. It almost works, works as an approximation. As an approximation, profitability is inversely proportional to the amount of alien materials required to produce the item. This sort of makes sense on two major grounds. 1, governments without access to alien materials would have difficulty operating such equipment, limiting demand. This is most obvious with aircraft, but we can assume that adopting weapons that use ammunition based on alien materials would be risky, because of huge uncertainty in the future supply and pricing. We can also assume that even systems like the Sonic Oscillator, that require a lot of Zrbite to build but notionally none to operate, still require maybe small amounts of Zrbite to maintain, or at least, knowledge of Zrbite to use safely. 2, the other major ground, would be XCOM and the CFN's desire to control and monopolise alien-derived technologies and anything that might create competition for alien materials, which could compromise the XCOM war effort. Add to that a couple of riders Earth governments are not interested in underwater combat really (craft, craft weapons or infantry weapons) and only really want things that work in the air or on land (not entirely unreasonable if you ignore the alien undersea threat, ahem).
So it is mostly the 'advanced human' technology that sells profitably. Gauss weapons of all kinds have reasonably profitability, as do Medi-kits and PDS. Sonic weapons fall flat despite their superior effectiveness above or below the water. Unfortunately the approximation breaks down in a lot of the specifics. PWTs, DPLs and TSLs sell well despite having unprofitable ammo (which makes no sense) and despite the ammo's dependence on exotic alien materials. But as a very crude explanation, it's not bad. Spike 12:45, 20 October 2012 (EDT)