Greedy Goblin

Monday, March 13, 2017

The top 2% has more wealth in BDO than the bottom 98%

I was always curious how rich people are in games. Or to be specific, what is the wealth distribution and how is it relates to Real World wealth distribution. Finally, in BDO it's possible, since this game provides rankings. For top 30, it's exact position, for everyone else, it's a place on a slider. So here is what I did: I used the "currency exchange" feature to transform my money into gold bars and put the gold bars to carts to hide my wealth from the ranking algorithm. Then gradually transformed the bars back to money and screenshotted the slider, flipped it so it went from zero pixel up and checked how many pixels it was at. The whole slider was 720 pixels long, so every 72 pixels means I moved 10% up among the players:
After 95.5%, the slider disappeared as I arrived to the toplist. So the top 30 are top 4.5%. Using this, I could translate top positions to percents and finish the position vs wealth chart. Even when I put back all my money, 2800M silver, I was still just #2, so I approximated the richest man to have 3B:

Ouch! That pretty much looks like the wealth distribution in the USA, despite the video game is fair, no one was born into a rich family, your Cedar Timber costs as much as mine and I don't cook more beer than you! (OK, I do, but only because I'm Master 6). Seems that the wealth inequality is coming from difference of skill and effort, not some arcane socialist nonsense. According to the graph, the bottom quintile (the "E rank" players) has 6.2M on average, the second quantile (D rank) has 28.2M, the third quantile (C rank) has 57M, the fourth quantile (B rank) has 118M, the top quantile minus top 5% (the "A rank" but not toplist players) has 274M, while the top 5% (toplist) has 1303M on average.

But wait, there is more! While I did this experiment on the most crowded channel (EU Velia 1), it is still not a perfect representation of the EU server. Also, it only gathered data about online players, which skews the result towards more active players (if Adam is online 10x more than Betty, he has 10x more chance to be online when I did the experiment, so he is 10x overrepresented). Active players have more silver than casuals, so the people I sampled are more rich than the people I didn't. How much more rich? Well, the average of my sample was 145M. Daum was nice enough to provide us the average wealth of the active players: 42.3M. If I assume that the unsampled people are all E and D rank (unlikely, but I wanted to be conservative) then they have 17M on average. We need 4x more unsampled than sampled to have the big average, so the top 5% of sampled is top 1% of total. Calculating with that, the top 2% have more silver than the rest of the players.

By the way, if you want to get rich, I have a guide how to do it without killing a single mob.

PS: you can use wealth to buy gear on the marketplace instead of enchanting it yourself like Ilayra:
PS2: please link this post on r/blackdesertonline, let the playerbase know how unequal the silver distribution is!


Smokeman said...


I'm inclined to accept these results for two reasons. One: You used the most crowded channel (EU Velia 1: I believe you're on the Jordine Server), and two, you only gathered data for online players without making the obvious observation that PLAYERS WOMPING THE ECONOMY WITH PROCESSING will always be online, just like you are.

Even if these results aren't perfect, they have to be within 50% of perfect. And that would mean 3% of players have all the silver. Hardly a majorly different result.

So... 98% of the players are just trying to play the game, not massively manipulate the silver accumulation process through things like processing.

It doesn't seem complicated. Game design should favor the 98%. But how to do that?

Gevlon said...

@Smokeman: nope, the most common way of getting to the 1% in NOT processing, but plain grinding mobs, gathering (running around and picking ores and herbs one by one) and the most active tradeskill: alchemy. So most of the 1-3% are "nolifers". I've already suggested simply limiting playtime/grind action per day.

Anonymous said...

96.5 + 4.5 = 101

Gevlon said...

Fixed typo, it is 95,5.

Anonymous said...

I admit I'm no BDO player, so treat my question with a grain of salt, but...

> no one was born into a rich family

Wasn't there a way to convert $ into in-game wealth implemented there that caused all the fuss some time ago? Is it possible to evaluate that and check if top 1-3% are not just no-lifers but actually whales?

Gevlon said...

The direct $ to silver conversion has horrible rate: 1$ for 1M, I doubt if many have thrown thousands of $s to the game.

Buying the pay-to-win wealth generation items approximately double or triple your income. I'm sure that all the rich players put in the $. I sure did. But that doesn't really explain 100x wealth differences. Also, I saw so many idiots in porn actress costumes that I'm sure that the poor ones pay lots of $. Just not on the right items.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure that all the rich players put in the $. I sure did. But that doesn't really explain 100x wealth differences"

So the 1-3% are no-lifers and whales?

The ones in porn actress costumes are only idiots if their goal in game is the same as yours.
Having played BDO, there are many aims in game other than "Top the leaderboard in gold" (Which you can do by being online at 3am), just like in other games.

The playstyle you follow in BDO bores me to tears, so I do not do it, much as your playstyle in Eve did. Most people do not have run backwards and forwards for hours non-stop in a game or sit and wait around for trade routes to complete.

I would also venture to say, that, much like in real life, most people do not have the aim of climbing to the top of the scrooge mcduck pile of gold. It is one measure of success, sure, but it is by no means the only one.

Anonymous said...

If you want to try and get some more data on the wealthiest players, try conducting the same experiment on node war channels when node wars are going on. Preferably on saturday during the region conquest wars when all the biggest and most geared guilds are fighting. That does assume that people are actually fighting for regions and not forming alliances and taking turns owning the castle for the guild funds.

But the problem is there are too many ways to "hide" your wealth from the leaderboard. Sinking all your silver into gear upgrades hides you from the wealth leaderboards. Net gear worth would be a much more interesting stat, but we have no way to measure that. Even the extremely wealthy with top end gear often have a large pre-order in place on whatever upgrade they are next chasing, also hiding their wealth from the leaderboard. If the item they are after skips a pre-order, or another item they want gets posted, they can cancel their pre order to free up that silver to try and win the bid lottery.

I guess what I'm getting at is that the high end is even higher than the leaderboards suggest, no matter when or where you take the data. A tet ogre ring is 7.5b, and I promise you there are quite a few players who have pre-orders on those.

Anonymous said...

I admit I'm no BDO player, so treat my question with a grain of salt, but...

> But that doesn't really explain 100x wealth differences.

is there an activity cost in BDO? Like ammo or repairs or whatever? Because if there are, 100x wealth difference can be explained like this: Adam and Betty both do X. It costs $99 to do X. The result of doing X sells for $100, so they both make $1 in the end. Then Adam buys a power item which doubles his productivity. Now Adam makes $200 doing the $99 activity X and earns $101, which is 101 times more than Betty does. Now Betty has bought a fancy stripper dress and is happy about it, while Adam complains about shallow endgame and is in fact not so happy despite quickly accumulating 100x wealth difference to Betty.

There could be other explanations along the margin line, ofc, mine is just an abstract example, something I remember from looking at world of tanks economy where repairs are activity cost and +50% income premium account actually turned into +600% wealth difference at level 6, and the difference between going red and black at level 7 and above. Now I've actually no idea if BDO has any of those, but it'll make 100x wealth difference explainable.

Anonymous said...

Is gear taken into account in the rankings? Gear can be measured as a sort of "investment" ranging several hundreds of millions (or maybe a few billions? not that experienced in the game yet to be sure).