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Nearly all games contain some form of currency, and most place a heavy focus on earning money through various tasks. In some games, particularly of the simulation variety, money is the ultimate gameplay item. And, of course, money is the driving force of many aspects of Real Life. But, in many games, money is inexplicably not always a very useful possession, which can result from any of the following:
- Items available for sale can be acquired via other (free) means such as Item Crafting or Inexplicable Treasure Chests, making it unnecessary to spend money on them.
- Money itself is gained via incredibly easy ways, such as smashing up pots and plants, which often respawn or killing easy, endlessly respawning enemies.
- Nothing particularly attractive is available to spend money on. Any items and equipment you would pay for are only available by progressing through the game, exploring the environment, completing sidequests, or looting dead enemies.
- Any useful things to buy are so cheap you never have to concern yourself with money.
- Necessities are unnecessary: your character never needs to eat or drink, and either doesn't need to sleep or can sleep in a ditch without contracting pneumonia.
Any of these factors tend to lead to a situation where you end up with huge amounts of money, either with nothing worthwhile to spend it on, or no way to spend it all-- That is having a lot of Money for Nothing.
In RPGs, this trope occurs very frequently in the form where money is highly valuable at the start of the game when your characters lack basic healing spells and items, but then becomes increasingly less useful as you progress through the game and acquire more than enough money, ample supplies of basic items, and weapons and equipment that are superior to those sold in shops.
Another common variation is when money is useful with regards to Sidequests and Hundred-Percent Completion-related things, but is of little interest to players only interested in completing the main game.
Developers will often attempt to address this problem by creating a sudden obstacle late in the game that requires an enormous amount of money. This arbitrary workaround is hardly more desirable. They can also opt to create Money Sinks.
- 1 Action Adventure
- 2 Action Game
- 3 Adventure Game
- 4 Driving Game
- 5 Fighting Game
- 6 First Person Shooter
- 7 Four X
- 8 Hack And Slash
- 9 Platform Game
- 10 Puzzle Game
- 11 Real Time Strategy
- 12 Roguelike
- 13 Role Playing Game
- 14 Simulation Game
- 15 Sports Game
- 16 Stealth Based Game
- 17 Turn Based Strategy
- 18 Turn Based Tactics
- 19 Wide Open Sandbox
- 20 Gamebooks
- 21 Tabletop Games
- 22 Web Original
- In many games of the The Legend of Zelda series, shops sell items at ridiculous prices; that is, the same items you can obtain for free simply by going outside and cutting down grass. Money is seldom required in the main game.
- They freely admit this in Ocarina of Time. One Kokiri points out that most of the items in the shop can be found in the forest for free.
- Zelda games play type 3 as close as possible without falling into parody domain: plain glass bottles and bomb bags will be given out apologetically to reward you for an errand, but you can never just go to the store and buy four bottles.
- The fact that rupees are so easy to get actually becomes annoying in Twilight Princess, because if you don't have enough room in your wallet for a rupee found in a chest, the game will return it and close the chest. This makes it very frustrating for people who want Hundred-Percent Completion and don't like having to go back through the dungeons after emptying their wallets. This is the only game in the series that does this- in all other cases, finding money in chests when your wallet is already full will just waste the chest. This issue can be offset by giving large sums of money away and using the rupee-sucking Magic Armor.
- The "having nothing to spend it on" part of this trope hits incredibly hard in Ocarina of Time when you've finally gone to all the effort to kill all the Golden Skultulas, only to be rewarded with... a respawning 200 rupees, which at this point in the game is likely beyond worthless. Oddly, the lower rewards in the House of Skultula are the better ones. (Of course, it does make resupply more streamlined, especially if you have found yourself addicted to the mini-games.)
- The game's also very obnoxious in its belief that rupees are the greatest reward ever, too. In the Fishing Minigame, there is a rare fish called a Hylian Loach. There's a small chance of it appearing at all, and can only be caught during short intervals when it does actually exist. Your reward for performing the very difficult feat of catching it? 200 rupees. Getting the heaviest of the normal fish gets you useful items.
- Interestingly, the original game averts this: not only are there a wide variety of useful items for sale (with rupees fairly difficult to find), but once you have everything they continue to serve a very important use as arrows.
- Skyward Sword also manages to avert it by making useful items cost rupees. Additional pouches, medallions, a piece of heart, shields, shield repairs, etc... all have a cost, and, until the very end, you're almost always in need of something. Unlike any of the other console titles, it's actually possible to go through an entire 100% Completion campaign and never once have your wallet filled to capacity.
- The so-called Castleroids (or Metroidvanias) of the modern Castlevania series often do this when it comes to equipment, as there are normally better ones in the environment, with the traditional exception of one really expensive item you'll have to farm cash to get. Even worse, the original Castleroids (until Aria of Sorrow) wouldn't let you sell your items, leaving you with a bloated wallet and inventory!
- This comes and goes. Harmony of Dissonance has some nice armour in the shops, and lets you by gamebreaking amounts of consumables. Aria of Sorrow has some good weapons in it's shop, but it stops mattering halfway through. The next two games pretty much made the shops useless. Then Order of Ecclesia almost inverted the trope; money is scarce, and all of the best armour has to be bought.
- Crusader of Centy does this, big time. The only items available that aren't plot-critical are certain one-use partners and an additional hit point.
- Ur-Quan Masters When you give the Chmmr the Utwig Bomb and the Location of the Sa-Matra, they give you an item of Infinite Worth, at the cost of more than half of your module slots. Good Luck spending it all.
- The Lego Star Wars games, particularly in 2, where one can build a fountain from gold Lego bricks that spews "studs" (their form of currency), which at that point, the player likely has little to nothing to spend them on. The Xbox 360 version of the game even gives you an achievement for maxing out the stud counter.
- Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones are also bad "offenders". To wit: there are five stud multipliers that can be purchased, ranging from x2 to x10. They stack.
- Of course they stack. They're Legos.
- Combine this with three other extras: 'Stud Magnet' attracts studs; 'Character Studs' causes enemies to explode in a shower of studs; and 'Always Multiply' allows you to always multiply the number of studs you collect even if you haven't been attacking anyone. You can max out the stud counter extremely quickly.
- In Lego Indiana Jones, studs fall from the sky at Hundred-Percent Completion. Of course, there's nothing left to do...
- The point-and-click adventure game based on Monty Python and The Holy Grail let you collect absurd amounts of money but gave you only one place to spend it: to buy shrubberies for the Knights Who Say Ni. Since you don't actually get anything out of buying shrubberies, there's no point in that either. Until the end of the game, that is, when you have to throw away all your items in order to be light enough to cross the Bridge of Death. Then it becomes a puzzle to collect precisely enough money to be spent on several shrubberies and be left with nothing.
- In The Secret of Monkey Island, you get a large sum of pieces of eight early in the game, and have only a few things (a sword and swordfighting lessons, a shovel, a treasure map, and a roll of breath mints) to buy; once that's done, you still have over a hundred pieces of eight left and literally the only thing to spend it on is futilely trying to buy root beer from a non-functional vending machine.
- This is probably less about useless money and more a design decision; after all, there's no indication that the non-functioning vending machine will ever give you anything so it's possible (if time-consuming) to spend your money at the machine before buying the necessary items. By providing a decent extra amount of cash, it's less likely a player will screw themselves up.
- In a complete inversion, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge starts you off with more money than you could possibly ever use. Almost immediately, it's all stolen from you. You get more later on, and can spend some or all of it on random knicknacks at a certain shop, only a few of which are actually useful.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island the problem is yet further averted: You fleece an insurance salesman for a quantity ambiguously defined as "a lot of money", but the only thing to spend the money on is a hand of poker. The buy-in (and minimum bet) is "not a lot of money". No matter how many hands you play and inevitably lose, you'll still have "a lot of money".
- Played straight and more in the adventure game Pirates! (any version), as a skillful enough player can go the whole game without using his gold to buy anything other than information/treasure maps and bonus items from the guys hanging out in the backs of bars. Gold on all but the hardest level (typically for serious repairs/dancing shoes) merely becomes another bragging point. More uncharacteristically, once you've made a large enough amount your crew (of frickin' pirates) never becomes unhappy, thus you never need to divide the plunder until your character is REALLY feeling his age, thus you never need to pay them for their services. Gold must release pleasant pheromones in the Pirates! universe.
- Addition to the above: Aging makes sword-fighting more difficult, but it's really quite easy to win fights anyway even at the highest difficulty setting, and after the age of 40 you stop aging. Add that to the infinitely-satisfied crew exploit, and you can play the game forever, earning more money than you could dream of. And yeah, there's virtually no use for it.
- The Quest for Glory series is pretty bad about this. The fifth game averts it, but all of the others give you more money than you can reasonably spend. The first game has the chain mail, which is fairly expensive, but a decently early quest reward happens to cover the cost exactly. The third has little worth buying, and the fourth lacks any real shops. However, the biggest case is the second game, Trial by Fire. There's a lot of items you need from the merchants, but the Kattas will give you whatever you need as soon as it's apparent that you need it to save the city (Kattas are smart that way). The entire thing is compounded by the ability to import characters and their boatloads of money from one game to the next.
- Deadly Premonition is the king of this trope. You are monetarily rewarded for every little thing. Shaving, changing your suit regularly, driving well, checking the weather on TV...oh, and of course, killing enemies.
- Need for Speed: Carbon sort of played this one: not only you win enough money from racing alone to tune 4 cars to the limit, but you also have enough money to buy an Aston Martin DB9, a Nissan Skyline, a Chevrolet Corvette, a Dodge Viper, and a Koenigsegg CCX.
- However, there is still a real challenge with money in getting through the career while saving up the 1 million needed for the reward card unlocks.
- The first Underground title suffers from this problem. You will earn money faster than new parts unlock, causing you to be rolling in money with nothing to use it on (even arbitrarily changing your car's visual elements while waiting for the next tier of performance parts to open up will not burn enough money to offset how much you earn by racing). Underground 2 tends to avoid this as you can maintain more than one car (changing your car in Underground will cause the parts and visual elements to transfer to the car you swap to, meaning you can't hold onto more than one car at a time) and there's considerably more in the world to spend money on.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl falls under this. Coins are mainly used for continuing if you fail in Classic or All-Star mode and used for the Coin Launcher to get stickers and trophies. The fact that you literally gain coins for every single mode you play in and gambling coins for spectator mode online, you'll quickly reach the 9999 coin limit with nothing worthwhile to spend it on.
- Note that if you're into Hundred-Percent Completion, it's quite likely that you will blow through all 9999 coins you collect in the process of trying to get many trophies in the Coin Launcher, or continuing repeatedly in some of the higher difficulties of Classic and All-Star modes. But it's not like it takes long to build your cash back up, and you'll only need to do all that once.
- Interestingly, it actually costs you a single coin in order to put a vote on a specific stage when playing a Wi-Fi Match. If for some weird reason you don't have any coins, you'll have to pick "Random".
First Person Shooter
- In Deus Ex, weapons, ammo, and supplies (such as medkits and biocells) are so abundant that it's pretty much useless to buy them off NPCs. Weapon mods might be worth buying, but you can find just enough of these weapon mod items to max out a couple of your preferred weapons. Some of these mods (such as the recoil and accuracy ones) are also helped by upgrading your weapon skills. So it's not like you'd be spending a lot of money buying from NPCs. On top of that, some of the things that require money in the game can be gained through alternate means anyway (usually picking locks or sneaking around). The only item left that might be useful if purchased are the nano-augmentation upgrades, but they're not sold anywhere. This makes sense if you consider that there are about four nano-augmented people in the world to sell the rare (and presumably VERY expensive) upgrades to. As a result, many players don't even buy anything in the course of the game, other than the beer you give to your pilot at the beginning (which is optional anyway).
- On the other hand, having enough money to buy information and bribe people made some parts of the game (especially Hong Kong) significantly easier.
- Late in the game, the player can buy some LAMs to help sink a ship (not that kind), which costs at minimum 2,400 credits and at most 3,500 credits. However, plenty of LAMs and TNT crates can be found lying around in the naval base for the player to use for free. Then again, no one after the gas station has anything to sell, even though there are still opportunities to pick up credits.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution runs into the same issue. Weapons and ammo are never a problem, as there are more than enough out in the field. Weapon mods are a more reasonable purchase, but even those are common enough that if you focus on a particular weapon, you'll find plenty for free. The only thing left to buy after that are Hypostims, Cyberboost Jars, and Praxis Kits, all in limited supply. Plus, once you leave Hengsha for the second time, you'll never see another shop (besides a LIMB Clinic on Panchaea) to spend the tens of thousands you're likely to have left over by the end of the game.
- Gremlins 2 for the NES. Most enemies drop black orbs which you can use to buy powerups from the old man from the movies. However, you can only use each shop once, and the game is completely linear. As a result, other than the very first shop or two, you nearly always get the most expensive item because you always have enough orbs to buy everything in the store several times over if the game would let you. Interestingly, the game would have been easy if you could have sunk all that "money" into powerups and extra lives, but with this limitation, it makes the game Nintendo Hard.
- You wouldn't expect this trope in an FPS, but Command and Conquer: Renegade multiplayer can leave you with more money than you know what to do with, especially if you play as an Engineer. The character upgrade is fairly cheap and vehicles are limited in number. Plus you'll easily make more money repairing buildings and vehicles. Some servers try to alleviate this by allowing you to gamble for random prices.
- Civilization III managed to include this one with the Wall Street Small Wonder (i.e. each player can build it). This Wonder gives you 5% interest on your treasury every turn. Since, as Albert Einstein said, "compound interest is the most powerful force in the Universe," this has a pretty amazing effect: if you have so much as 5 gold in your treasury, you'll come out a few turns later with more cash than you know what to do with; even with hideous fiscal management, money is no object. As a result, this Wonder was known as a Game Breaker.
- This was eventually fixed with an Obvious Rule Patch limiting the amount you could benefit from this to 50 gold.
- The Sequel Civilization IV managed to break the game with Wall Street again if you founded as many Corporations as possible in the city with Wall Street (which doubles all gold earnings for every gold producing building in the city). Each corporate headquarters would earn money for every franchise it had in another city giving a cumulative effect. However franchises themselves would cost the city that hosted them a ton of money, meaning it would be stupid to have franchises in your own cities because the cost of them would outweigh the money gain from the headquarters. That is, unless the headquarters was in the same city as Wall Street. An even better tactic is to spread your franchises to as many foreign cities as possible with all your corporate headquarters in one city with Wall Street. You literally rake in thousands of gold per turn and leave all foreign nations destitute as none of them can hope to deal with the gold drain you place on them.
- This was eventually fixed with an Obvious Rule Patch limiting the amount you could benefit from this to 50 gold.
Hack And Slash
- Diablo II is notorious for this, as the only major costs in the normal game are gambling items (never necessary) and reviving your mercenary. This is especially noticeable in its online Battle.net play, where barter between players is exclusively item-for-item; a somewhat-useful magic ring called the Stone of Jordan became the meta-currency, as the sale price of items being advertised in chat would often be expressed as "X SoJ" Many mods of the game make new items available from shops, or increase prices on basic items.
- Gambling is still a really good way to get items, as rares (which come up every so often) are frequently better than uniques if the right traits come up, gambling is practically mandatory in single player if you want decent equipment
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2006: In Silver's story, You have to buy all of his upgrades to progress, and in Shadow's story, you have to buy all but two. If you even did decently on the levels, you'll have more than enough rings to buy the extra two and leave you with tons of rings saved up with literally nothing to spend them on. Sonic is a bit of a exception. Only his first three upgrades are required, but the other 7 are only available right before the final level.
- Sonic Generations has points that you earn for completing levels, based on your score (10,000 score = 100 points). You use these points to purchase beneficial skills for both Sonics. If you're a completionist - going after S ranks and Red Rings in the stages, doing many of the challenge acts - you'll have more than enough points to buy all the skills and the Sega Genesis controller (the most expensive item at 7,777 points), and still have plenty left over. All that's left to buy after that are extra lives, which then makes them meaningless.
- DROD:RPG tends to have this problem in user-made "holds" (level sets). All the enemies in the game have stats (including amount of money carried) copied over from the game it's based on, Tower of the Sorceror; but that game also had Money Sinks in the form of "altars" (which let you exchange money for stats, with the cost of each use increasing quadratically). Many user-made holds lack altars, and the player just ends up accumulating so much money that there is never any difficulty in buying everything buyable as soon as it's offered. One level set, "Nobard's Hold", has dealt with this problem quite effectively by doubling all costs.
- The currency in Scribblenauts is "Ollars". You get Ollars for completing any level (be they Action or Puzzle). You get more Ollars for using certain items (tools, animals, weapons, etc) or completing a level in a particularly clever or awesome way. The thing is...the only thing to spend these Ollars on are extra characters to replace Maxwell. They cost an average of 2000-3000 Ollars each. By the end of the game, you'll have well over 300,000 Ollars. 
Real Time Strategy
- Inexperienced players of games with both a Command and Conquer Economy and a Research system often run into a temporary version of this, having a monstrously robust income without the production capability, population cap or high technologies (or all three!) to spend their resources on.
- Money in Nethack is a strange case; having some money around can help you bribe your way past a couple of (not hard) bosses, and buying protection from priests is often beneficial; but beyond that everything in shops can simply be stolen by a well-trained pet and it's dirt cheap to buy anyway (unless you stumble across Grayswandir in a shop, you lucky sod), which means money is just there for extra points if you beat the game, and taking up space in your backpack (The Dev Team Thinks of Everything in action - one hundred and thirty seven thousand gold pieces actually have weight in this game...).
- Interestingly, in ADOM, your money is more useful the less you spend it. A blessed girdle of greed increases your maximum carrying capacity according to how much gold you have. Classes that can't cast Strength of Atlas to lift their gear will end up hauling around massive amounts of gold. Played straight for chaotic mages, who can cast Atlas and rob shops won't need their gold for anything.
- When you start Castle of the Winds, you have three thousand copper to your name, and that's before buying your starting equipment. By the end of the game you're getting double-digits of platinum, and each platinum piece is worth 1000 cp. (To be fair, though, the shops do have some very nice stuff for sale, so it's not until the very end of the game that money truly becomes worthless.)
- It is possible for certain countries to end up in a position like this in Avalon Hill's Third Reich, both the computer version and the table-top version. If a country is fully mobilized but not engaged in heavy fighting, it will quickly find that it is building up BRP's with nothing to spend them on. Usually, however, this is not an issue.
Role Playing Game
- Since item synthesis is the only thing that costs munny in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, you will end up with ridiculous amounts of cash rather fast. For who knows what reason, all of the items you can buy from the Organization Moogle cost Heart Points... even though he claims that the reason he follows after Roxas after the latter leaves the Organization is that he would miss all the munny Roxas spends at his shop.
- The Mario & Luigi series gets guilty of this near the end of the third game (Bowser's Inside Story) due to all the treasure chest enemies Bowser faces, combined with coin earning multipliers and blocks that can rejuvenate your health for no cost. You are guaranteed to have at least 10,000 coins by the end of the game.
- In Final Fantasy VII, money is moderately useful at the start of the game when you're poor, but by the time you reach disc three, you'll probably have hundreds of thousands of useless Gil. The programmers may have lampshaded this, as they give you the chance to splurge all that extra cash on a beach-front villa, which besides allowing you to heal for free, has no practical purpose.
- By disk 2, you have a reason to spend all that money: Chocobo Breeding. It costs 10,000 Gil per stall (you need four minimum), and at least 3 million Gil for the greens. Where do you get that much Gil? Sell those All Materias you mastered, which go for 1.4 million a pop and are easily mastered. Perhaps getting that Gold chocobo is worth its weight in Gil.
- Or you could use the item duplication trick and never have to worry about money ever again (in addition to completely breaking the game and removing all difficulty, of course).
- The "Coin" ability (granted by a yellow action materia) lets you toss Gil at enemies. The damage corresponds to how much Gil you use, but since it can only do 9999 damage at most at a cost of 99990 Gil, by the time you have that kinds of cash to throw around freely, you can easily outdamage it in other ways and nobody ever uses it.
- Likewise, in Final Fantasy X-2, an important item can be had only if the party has an enormous amount of Gil very early in the game. Later, it becomes not only more or less useless, but a fairly simple optional quest makes it effortless to acquire.
- Final Fantasy VIII gives you a regular salary based on your SeeD rank rather than as part of your loot hoard or from selling Vendor Trash. Basically, every ten real-time minutes or so you'll get several thousand Gil. Most items that can be bought cost a couple hundred. Both they, and the rare ones, can be found in loot drops, or just mugged from enemies. By the time you leave the D-District Prison, provided you've kept your rank appropriately high through a combination of not running from fights, summon-spamming and taking the written tests, you can be pretty close to a Gillionaire. And this is only the beginning of disc two, and you haven't got anywhere to even begin to spend all that money for another several hours yet. If you haven't got a million Gil by Disc Three, you're either bum-rushing, or slacking somewhere.
- There's also an infinite Gil trick which will allow you to earn money much faster, if you really need it. But if you wish to attempt to max out everyone's stats without using any Junctioning, you can quickly waste a ton of cash buying items that teach GFs skills, refining 10 of them into better version of the item and then further refining 10 of those into a single Up.
- The enemies in Final Fantasy IX give absurd amounts of gil when beaten, and Quina can learn the "Millionare" ability fairly early too to increase that amount even more. In addition, the majority of the games weapons and equipment can either be stolen from bosses, found in dungeons, or aquired in various side quests for free, so there isn't nearly as much a need to buy equipment in stores. Not to mention you'll probably find yourself with boat loads of various consumable items just from stealing and enemy item drops. There still are a few money sinks like synthesizing and the Treno Auction house, but getting the money for them is extremely easy.
- Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is guilty of just about every point listed at the top of the page. Money can be spent on four things: Cure Potions, Bombs, Seeds, and weapon/armor upgrades. The upgrades are one-time investments that the player should have more than enough money for without any effort put into it whatsoever, while the Cure Potions and Bombs can be acquired through respawning Inexplicable Treasure Chests. Even the comparably expensive (and rare outside of stores) Seeds can reach their capacity Cap with almost no Money Grinding, thanks to the dearth of other things to spend the money on. Naturally, these turn out to be a Game Breaker in mass quantities.
- Baten Kaitos Origins uses a card-battling system, and your deck is essentially set about at third of the way through the game (once you've reached the maximum hand size). Your basic attack cards never change and armor cards are more trouble to use effectively than they're worth, so the only cards that need to be swapped out as the game progresses are super moves, which can't be bought, and better healing cards, which are one-time investments since they never get used up.
- Considering the vast amounts of expensive stuff the player gathers but can never sell in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the PC's net-worth can be estimated at well over a million. Good thing the coins were weightless.
- Try filling Grand Soul Gems with big monster souls and selling them to Creeper (mentioned below). Try pocketing 5 million drakes in a single week of gameplay!
- Using the enchanting services provided by certain NPCs added the gold spent to their inventory, allowing players to sell even the most expensive of goods at reasonable profit.
- The flat-out easiest way to get money for nothing in Morrowind takes advantage of a rounding error, and doesn't even require decent stats: the game works out the total price of goods differently depending on whether you click on a whole stack of items at once or add them individually. At the start of a game you can pick up a stack of four hundred minimum-value tax forms. Simply add them to your "sell" stack one by one and the game will raise the price by the minimum value rounded up to a whole coin on each click. Sell for four hundred septims, then buy the whole stack back for one.
- This was a major complaint (both the insanely stuffed wallets and not being able to sell things properly, go figure), and an attempt was made to solve it in the sequel, Oblivion. Still not quite perfect, but at least more realistic. Early in the game, quality armour, weapons, spells, potions, etc. are very expensive when you might only have a few hundred Septims to spend, and are also difficult to find (dungeon crawls are usually required to find anything of value). This completely changes later in the game, though, when all the best items can be easily found due to the game's global levelling system, and said items can also be sold for thousands. Even though the game contains money sinks like purchasable houses and item enchanting, it's still easy to wind up richer than the Emperor himself.
- Also, with decent skills it was possible in Morrowind to buy items for less than you sold them for at normal merchants, so it really was Money for Nothing.
- A quick summary: most of the game's more expensive Vendor Trash is worth anywhere between 10,000 and 500,000 gold. The most that any vendor actually has to pay you for it is 10,000.
- It's actually possible to create your own money sink through a glitch that can net you infinite levels. If you have an enchantment that boosts one of your stats past 100, say Endurance, and you have one of its governed skills at 100, like Heavy Armor, you can pay the master trainer of that skill to train that skill infinitely. It won't rise above 100, but after 10 training sessions, you will be able to level up. This can potentially cost very large amount of gold.
- Bioware's Mass Effect 1 is a prime example of this. Due to the large-but-limited nature of the player's inventory, by the time the limit is approached, it rapidly becomes apparent that the only thing to do with your excess (useless) items is to dump them for the Applied Phlebotinum that was the aptly-named Omni-Gel... or sell it all. Since a level 1 suit of threadbare cotton armor turns into exactly as much Omni-Gel as a level 50 BFG, vendors often ended up buying all the player's trash. Which promptly leaves the player sitting near the end of the game with multiple millions of credits and the most expensive items rarely topping 300,000.
- Even if you sell very few items (instead turning most of them into Omni-Gel), it's extremely unlikely to not have maximum credits by the end of the game unless you deliberately go out of your way to buy things. With the New Game+ nature of the game, subsequent plays through the game are even worse because there's even less need to spend money.
- And other than the spectre master weapons (which incidentally you unlock by collecting a million credits) and some cheap upgrades to your medigel and grenade capacity, there really isn't anything you can buy that isn't found by the dozens in every enemy base.
- The exceptions here are armor - especially non-human armor. Getting your hands on a good suit of krogan, turian, or especially quarian armor requires visiting a lot of different vendors and hoping you get lucky, because non-human armor drops very rarely. Quarian armor of any type is almost impossible to find, so don't be surprised if Tali is running around in her basic outfit for half of the game.
- Lampshaded in the Bring Down The Sky DLC, which has a high end suit of Human or Quarian armor as a guaranteed quest reward. Choosing the Quarian set has Shepard comment on how rare the stuff is.
- Only three vendors in the entire game actually offer a specific list of non-human armor: the hanar merchant on the Presidium, Morlan in the Wards Markets, and the hanar merchant in the plaza on Noveria. 90% of that armor will be krogan or turian, and more than half of that will be lower-level armor that's no good compared with what you've got. Sometimes they'll be packing some incredibly good armor, though, like Colossus or Mantis suits.
- And BioWare eventually said "hell with it" when they got ready to release Mass Effect 2; people needed high level saves to import, and they promised more DLC, but time was running out. So for five bucks you can download Pinnacle Station and shoot at holograms while jerks snark at you — and upon completing it, you can hit a trade convoy where you can buy Spectre X guns, Colossus armor, and Savant Bio-Amps and Omni-tools. For about a fourth of list price.
- When your inventory is full, you can either sell it or turn it to omni-gel... what are you going to use the gel on? The hacking/decrypting minigame is so easy and Mako repair function so seldom used thanks to regenerating shields that the money is all you really need. And not for that long, as pointed out above.
- Mass Effect 2 averts this when it comes to credits. The game has almost no corpse looting, and it carefully controls how much credits and other stuff you can gain on each mission. As a result, even if you track down and complete every side mission, it's impossible to buy everything in the stores on your first playthrough. However, it plays it straight when it comes to resources. You can mine them from any planet in the game, and if you're thorough about it, you quickly end up with far more resources than you could ever use. And you can't sell them, so they just sit around making big numbers on the resource counters.
- Perhaps the worst is element zero. Because it's supposed to be highly rare and valuable, the quantity of eezo recovered from planet-scanning and resource nodes in missions is about a quarter that of the other resources, and the costs of eezo-based upgrades are likewise lower. However, the amount of eezo you get from bonuses is not adjusted, meaning a player with a Long Service Bonus (complete the game twice, or with a character who also beat the original) gets 50,000 units of element zero right at the start, more then they could ever need.
- Some Final Fantasy games have an amusing use for all that extra Gil they're carting around; the Samurai job class traditionally has a skill called Gil Toss, which chucks it for large amounts of damage. Similar was the Yojimbo summon in Final Fantasy X, who does different attacks depending on how much of a payment you offer him.
- Similar, Ninja job classes can usually throw any kind of weapon at the enemy, which can deal insane damage if you stock up on the best weapons available from stores. The Shuriken item is usually a more economical alternative, though.
- Monster Rancher games may be one of the few aversions out there. Because you constantly have to spend money to feed your monster, you always need SOME money--and because you'll have to feed your monster lots of treats if you want to raise an especially powerful one, you'll be continuously spending cash on goodies. It is part Simulation Game, however...
- The obscure Game Boy Color RPG Robopon isn't a complete aversion, but there are so many things to spend money on (your company, each town's robot lab, your company's robot lab, equipment, new Robopon themselves) that it's a very long time indeed before you're not grubbing for cash.
- In the first Gothic game, money is literally useless; the player will occasionally find coins while looting bodies or chests for items, but they have zero value. This is because the game is set in a prison colony, where a magical metal ore used for making weaponry is the new currency. The ore itself then suffers from version #2: since traders have limited ore to swap for your Vendor Trash, players frequently find themselves owning all the money in the world by the time of the final Boss Battle...
- In Gothic II, two characters hung a lampshade on this: Diego has you get his gold bag from the colony, asking you "Was I the only one who kept some gold on the side, just in case we got out of there?". The Expansion Pack gives us Cavalorn, who wants his bag (yes, money bags are EVERYWHERE around there) with a piece of ore back, stating he "didn't know the ore was worth so much out here."
- The Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series do this. Baldur's Gate II is particularly striking as you can end the game with several million gold pieces. This is notably averted in Planescape: Torment, which has far less money floating around to begin with and where the best tattoos are very expensive, so saving money at the beginning is actually a good idea.
- Because your parents are constantly showering you, you should have enough money by the end of Earthbound to retire. You even get to buy a useless, run-down old building for a fortune (which is easy enough to obtain) with nothing but a story cameo inside!
- Also, the last store in the game provides you with some things actually worth purchasing, including normally difficult to obtain MP-restoring items. The limitation is more how much you can fit in your storage area (because the store is Lost Forever) than whether or not you can afford it all.
- Too Human ends up being this way in the end, though it's more useful in the early and mid game. At the end game, money is generally only good for occasionally buying runes, repairing your gear, manufacturing the occasional item from blueprints, or very rarely buying elite items when they show up at the shops. Even these things can't keep up with the massive influx of money gained from downed enemies, broken containers, and salvaged gear. At level 50, players can make a million or more from a single run through of a level. Money has become so devalued that the online trading communities for the game operate much like Diablo II in that it's a fully barter oriented economy and few people accept money.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 gives you a stronghold to fix up midway through the game, which acts as an effective Money Sink. Once the stronghold is finished, however, it is still likely to fall victim to this trope.
- Knights of the Old Republic avoids this quite neatly (especially in the PC vesion), with several unique items only available from certain shops, until you go off to destroy or capture the Star Forge, at which point there are no more shops. However, the sequel suffers quite badly- anything that's worth having is either likely to drop, only available as a drop (sometimes unique, but not always; I've had two of the legendary Circlet of Saresh...) or craftable. Also, if the player is male (or has a mod to get the handmaiden as a female) there is a rather well known infinite money loop.
- All of the Ultima games have this to varying degrees.
- The first trilogy follows the basic example of endgame wealth, where once you've fully equipped yourself with the best items the shops have to offer, the only thing left to spend money on is food.
- In Ultima Exodus (Ultima III) you could make quick starter cash by creating endless extra characters, selling their gear and then deleting them. This goes even further - you could give blood ingame, getting a set amount of gold for every 10hp, REALLY stretching those throw-away characters for all they're worth.
- IV through VII are almost an inversion of the trope. The money's usually pretty tight throughout the game--especially if you have a spellcaster-heavy party--and unless you scour the land for things to equip or sell (or use other methods of duplicating money) that won't affect your Karma rating in the taking, you'll pretty much break even until the final dungeons where it doesn't matter any more.
- VIII and especially IX fully embrace the trope from the get-go. There's precious little to spend your money on, as you can fully equip yourself with badass gear practically from the start once you know where it is (there's a stiff penalty for stealing in VIII that can be circumvented if you're sneaky enough, but the running joke for IX is that Kleptomania is the Ninth Virtue as you can grab literally anything not nailed down and even a few things that are). In the case of IX, you can only carry a maximum of 9999 gold. Anything you sell to a merchant that exceeds this total will be dumped at your feet as a pile of gold when the transaction ends.
- Then there's Savage Empire, one of the Worlds of Ultima games, in which money is pretty much useless from the get-go. Almost everything you need, you can either steal (and nobody cares if you do), make yourself, or acquire by bartering easily-farmed items like yucca flax and parrot feathers. Plus, in certain parts of the world, you can find diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and gold, which are utterly pointless (well, except for the emeralds, which you can exchange for fruit at a "vending machine" in the underground Kotl city, but by that point you probably won't need the extra food anyway).
- The first trilogy follows the basic example of endgame wealth, where once you've fully equipped yourself with the best items the shops have to offer, the only thing left to spend money on is food.
- Fable I uses an accurate barter system where shopkeepers will offer high prices for things in demand (i.e. they've run out of stock for) and low prices for things they have a surplus of. Sadly, since you can buy your entire stock of an item in a single transaction at one of the extremes, money can be quickly farmed by selling all your stock in a single item, then buying it all back at less than you sold it for. Plus, you get Skill XP into the bargain too!
- Fable II is actually really good about averting this trope, at least until you figure out how to abuse the system. Every building in the game can be purchased, and there's a total of almost three million gold worth of real estate. The problem is that purchasing a property allows you to rent it out (or in the case of shops, just make a profit off of it), giving you a small sum for each building. In addition, if you don't play the game for a few days, when you load it back up, you'll get about half as much gold as you would have in the same amount of time actually playing the game. Abusing this system allows the player to easily earn 10,000 gold every five minutes with some cash grinding. By the time you reach the end of the game and can purchase the last piece of real estate in the game for a cool million, using this trick, it will take about an hour to get the cash together, tops. One XBox Achievement is available for this (the Ruler of Albion), for holding more than two and a half million gold in real estate, which is pretty much every building in the game world.
- Abusing the game's real estate system within itself makes this even simpler: after purchasing a piece of real estate, raising the rent 100% doubles the amount earned. You can then disconnect from XBOX Live, push the internal clock forward a year, reap the cash, and purchase more property, repeating the process until you're able to purchase every property in the game, within about an hour.
- Raising or lowering the rent/prices impact your purity and the NPCs' opinions of you as well. Pure evil playthroughs become much easier when NPCs love you enough to forgive just about any action.
- However, selling weapons and, early on, gems and jewelry to merchants in Fairfax Gardens ends up being a ridiculously easy way to make money if you'll tolerate loading screens, since traveling requires so much in-game time that many shops will restock between your trips and Fairfax's economy is so good that you can buy almost any good even at shortage prices and still turn a profit by selling it there.
- Money is fairly plentiful in the RPG Skies of Arcadia (which, given most of your party are pirates, makes a certain amount of sense), to the point that it's recommended you use healing potions in battle instead of healing magic. Most players, even buying the best weapons and armour along the way, will have enough money late in the game to spend hundreds of thousands of gold on their new pirate base without having to grind for it.
- In Dragon Warrior III, the party system worked by having you to go into a tavern in the first city and generate three characters of whichever class you wanted. If you wished to try adventuring with a different group, you could put your current group in "storage" and make a new one. The Soldier class always generates wearing leather armor that sells for 112 G and carrying a club that sells for 22 G. So, you could put your current group away, make three soldiers, sell their equipment for 134 G, store 'em, and make three more...over and over until you got sick of it.
- Unfortunately there is a game breaking bug related that caused this to royally screw up your game — The game was not designed to have hundreds of characters added and deleted from the registry, doing so will cause them to start overwriting other important data in memory. Overuse will cause your characters to randomly gain/lose magic, your original party characters would be randomly deleted or corrupted, your characters would randomly change level, etc.
- However, The Bards Tale Trilogy let you get away with the above method to your heart's content. Roll up as many dummy characters as you want, add them to the party, transfer starting gold and delete. Lather, rinse, repeat. The 'starter' parties that each game came with even had a few magic items in their inventory which could be muled over to a custom party and, being a PC game, their data files copied and refreshed at any time.
- Wizardry also let you create a bunch of junk characters and they will all start with 100 gold or so. Add them to your party, take the gold, remove them and delete. This was infinitely faster than going out to grind to get the gold for decent equipment at the start.
- Gold is plentiful, but there's few places to spend it at and little you really need to buy. There are very few NPCs who sell stuff in the whole game.
- Admittedly, late in the game you will run into characters who do sell very good equipment for prices that will finally challenge your bank accounts (which should contain several million GP by that point). Still, throughout most of the game gold isn't much use.
- The Fallout series of games fall prey to this trope as well.
- In Fallout 1, even a character with middling Barter skill can sell items to shopkeepers at higher prices than the shopkeepers' prices. With repeated buying and selling attempts, you can take literally everything any shopkeeper owns peacefully.
- Other Fallout games jacked up the prices of shopkeepers, but it's still very possible to steal items from their shop or kill them and take everything. The only things you can attain exclusively through spending caps are the room themes for your residence in Fallout 3.
- Another way to gain wealth in Fallout 1: roll up a character with high luck and a reasonable amount of skill in gambling. Hit a casino and play the slots. Hold down the keys for "place bet" and "play again" until you've accrued hundreds of thousands of caps.
- But why even bother to do these things? Just grab everything you come across, sell it, and if the shopkeeper runs out of money, buy weightless items!
- In Fallout 3, at higher levels, if you limit yourself to a handful of weapons, you could theoretically make thousands of caps off of ammo you get from killing raiders, super mutants, and Enclave soldiers.
- Fallout: New Vegas continues this tradition. Selling items that you don't need to traders (along with having a high Barter skill) is still a great way of earning caps. The Jury Rigging perk is also useful in this regard, as it allows you to repair weapons and armor that are in the same "class"; therefore, you could repair an expensive piece of equipment (a Super Sledge) with something cheap (a baseball bat), and sell it for a massive profit.
- The Gun Runners Arsenall DLC subverts this trope by adding a large number of unique weapons that can only be bought from merchants (previously, unique weapons were found while exploring. The lone exception to this rule could be stolen by picking a locked door while the shopkeeper was away). Many of these weapons are truly unique, rather than boosted versions of normal weapons (for example, Sleepytime is the only 10mm submachine gun that will accept a silencer, Two-Step Goodbye is a Ballistic Fist with a rocket launcher instead of a shotgun on it, and the Bozar is the only Light Machine Gun with magnifying optics), and all of them are expensive, typically costing upwards of 20,000 caps (for comparison, that's five times what the implants that give you a permanent stat increase cost).
- In the old PC game Thunderscape, there are only 2 shops in the game. Despite this a character with over 100 merchant skill can buy low and sell high to clean out both shops.
- In the Pokémon games, your money won't become useless (since the most useful items in the game are either only found in limited numbers during gameplay or are bought in shops for a nice sum of money or in casino for coins you can get with money), but since you earn money every time you defeat a trainer, and you defeat a lot of trainers during the course of the game, you'll end up hitting the maximum of 999,999P after you've been training your Pokémon for a while and are unlikely to ever buy enough items to run out of money. In Pokémon Platinum, you are given a villa once you reach a certain location whose only purpose is letting you waste money buying crazily expensive furniture for it (which does not do anything useful) and once you earn entrance to the Ribbon Society you can buy some extremely expensive ribbons (one of which cost as much money as you can possibly have) for the Bragging Rights Reward.
- Averted if you EV train though. You'll end spending all your money on Vitamins VERY frequently.
- Lunar: Silver Star Story has a weird version of this. The enemies in the final dungeon drop truly huge amounts of money, and it's not uncommon to end the area with over 200,000 silver. The problem is not that you don't have a use for the money (though you do get free healing items at that point), but that you can't leave the dungeon to spend any of it.
- FPS/RPG Borderlands gets there by the end of the New Game+. You'll have much more money than the $10 million "maximum" displayed, but even the most expensive gun won't cost more than $4-5 million. And most of the really good stuff comes from random drops anyway.
- The PC Version has achievements for acumulating money. The highest achievement is actually called: "How much for the planet?"
- The Armory of General Knoxx Expansion Pack takes this Up to Eleven along with its advertised level cap increase. There will be actual items for sale with a price higher than the display cap. You will buy them, just to see if you can. And chances are, you'll still have more money than the game can show.
- One thing to use up all that money is to deliberately get killed just to see how much the New-U station charges to rebuild your build. Try jumping across sections of map, or daredevil feats in one of the vehicles for more fun.
- In Mitsumete Knight, there's a Assets level system. There's several levels of wealth, from Commoner-like to Swimming In Dough-type, and you can increase your Assets level by doing part-time jobs. But aside from the type of present you can buy for the girls' birthday (except for a few girls, the more expensive it is, the more they'll be pleased by it), getting two specific Titles, and three or so minor events ( Johan's attempt at bribing the juges if you agree with his ways in Sophia's Theater Contest Event, being able to play Blackjack at the Bar or not, and repay the Fortune Teller if you break her Crystal Ball, this system won't affect the game and thus can easily be ignored.
- At low levels in Mafia Wars, cash is incredibly valuable because you need it to buy items used for jobs, and the jobs themselves don't pay out enough to get everything you need. However, once you start buying businesses and receiving regular income from them, you can enter a cycle of exponential cash growth that rapidly outpaces any demands the game makes on you. It's not uncommon to have billions in the bank by mid levels, and there's absolutely nothing to spend it on.
- You can at least earn achievements for banking increasingly large (as in billions and trillions) of money at once.
- However, this only applies to individual areas, as there is inexplicably no way to exchange currencies. Your American, Cuban, Thai and Russian money are all separate, meaning that somebody with trillions, literally, in New York can be flat broke in Bangkok (and at some point probably will).
- Las Vegas does allow you to exchange dollars for chips (the local currency)...but at an astronomically low exchange rate. You can literally spend millions of dollars to get a handful of chips that you could obtain by performing a single mid level job.
- Farmville, another Zynga Facebook game, has this issue as well. At early levels, you need every coin you can scrape together to upgrade your farm and plant crops. At a certain point, though, your farm economy is booming, you start running out of functional things to buy from the Market, and the most useful items can only be bought with Farm Cash anyway. Of course, because purchased items grant Experience Points, you can always spend every million coins you get on a new Villa for an instant level-up.
- There is a level cap however (70), and after about level 35 XP stops to make much difference. Also, with the biggest farm on full production you'll be raking in the XP by the hundreds (highest level is 330.000 XP).
- Having enough money to buy stuff effectively becomes moot in Chrono Trigger after the Ocean Palace since the only armor upgrades available after that are found in chests or subquests, and money doesn't carry over in the New Game+.
- In Valkyria Chronicles, you're rewarded for successfully completing missions and skirmishes in two ways: experience, and ducats (money). Experience is spent to level up your troops and learn new orders, while ducats are spent to research new weapon upgrades and unlock new content. The thing is, most missions and skirmishes award more ducats than experience, and while you'll always have something to spend experience on (since you can always level your troops, and it takes a lot of XP to get them up to max level), there are only a finite number of upgrades and unlockables to purchase at any given moment. Thus, you're likely to find yourself up to your eyeballs in unspendable ducats by the mid-game, particularly if you play a lot of skirmishes for Level Grinding.
- In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, you'll usually end up with more money than you really need, especially if you only use weapons and armor geared towards Might, Finesse, or Sorcery (which means selling a lot of equipment you don't use), and if you invest in the Detect Hidden skill early on (which increases the amount of gold found).
- Played straight and averted in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. If your character does not rely heavily on firearms, you will almost certainly end up with much more money than you can reasonably hope to spend, although there are definitely plenty of shops, and many of them do sell genuinely useful items. If your character does rely heavily on firearms, then you will constantly be spending money on ammunition, and this will act as a huge Money Sink.
- In Rune Factory, as mining in the caves can earn you millions of gold within a few days, where the only things to spend money on are 1000-gold minor upgrades to your house, a major upgrade costing 200000 gold, and seeds that generally cost a few hundred. Oh, and cooking ingredients, also costing a few hundred gold each. This was probably some kind of mistake, as Rune Factory 2 avoids it.
- Hot Shots Golf has a pro shop with about a couple thousand dollars worth of merchandise. Once you've bought it all, there's nothing else to spend your money on. Seriously, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, not even a token Money Sink or periodic charge. Even better, you don't even need to buy some of those items because you get them as tournament prizes.
Stealth Based Game
- Assassin's Creed II toys with this in a weird way: When the game begins, Ezio is Rich in Dollars, Poor In Sense, regularly emptying his wallet on booze and whores. (He'd never call that a waste!) Of course, you jumped into his life less than a day before it went to hell; the local magistrate frames and executes his family, for which he ends up as Ezio's first assassination. After that He Can't Go Home Again, eventually settling in a broken-down slum. Here's the weird part; keep up that behavior and you'll spend the rest of the game — and the next two decades of his life — in Perpetual Poverty. Invest in turning that slum into something respectable, and you'll soon have cash coming out of your ears. Even worse is that if you spend all of your villa income on upgrading the villa (and there aren't that many upgrades) you'll just earn money at an almost exponential rate. Compared to the pitiful loot you get off of treasure chests (which do add up over time) and pickpocketing, proper villa management can make any player stinking rich before even the halfway point of the game, without even bothering with the many side missions.
- In the early part of the game (up to the final confrontation with Vieri), Ezio is constantly under the gun, and he's far too preoccupied with survival to worry about niceties like getting out of grinding poverty. Once the villa starts earning income, however, everything completely opens up, and anyone who's any good at all at the game will see money flowing in like water. There's 8,000 florins worth of statuettes right in the villa, literally hundreds of treasure chests and treasure gondolas scattered everywhere, assassination contracts, races, beat-up events, message delivery, numerous side missions, and of course looting bodies and completing objectives, all of which brings in cash. Heck, the only time you ever need to pickpocket are the three times in the game it's required.
- The same principle applies to Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, only collectibles don't add to your income, and the value of renovations isn't quite as large. This merely delays the point at which you have over a hundred thousand florins to burn, with more in the bank, and nothing useful to spend it on.
- Continued once again in Assassin's Creed Revelations. However, there are incredibly pricy books for you to buy though they're pretty much a Bragging Rights Reward for an achievement.
- It is toned down drastically, however. Three things: 1. Constantinople is much less prosperous than Rome; you have to spend more to build up its earning potential. 2. The payoffs are a lot smaller, particularly the treasure chests, nearly all of which contain no money, only bomb parts. (You can sell these, but there's only one place that takes them, so it's easy to max out.) 3. There are a lot more demands on your resources, particularly the city-restoration missions in Mediterranean Defense.
Turn Based Strategy
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance uses a similar variant to FFX. There are only two reasons why anyone would find themselves wanting for Gil in this game: going for the Disc One Nuke, feeding captured monsters, and (rarely) getting an item to teach a skill quickly.
- Like every other trope they touch, Nippon Ichi takes this trope and runs with it. In the Disgaea series of games, for example, the money limit is listed in the quintillions, and the battles in the post storyline content just give up counting the money you earn, replacing the numbers with "Super!" — and that's before you add in any bonuses to money you get from your gear. After beating the game this money is absolutely worthless, as your gear is not going to come from the store, but rather by stealing it from random NPCs in the random dungeons.
- This can happen even before the end of the game due to the item levelup system — a rank 20 level 1 sword might have 1000 attack, a Rank 25 level 1 sword might have 1200, but a rank 20 level 10 or level 20 sword is going to have 2000 or more. Your ultimate weapons are going to be level 200 rank 40 items, which can only be gotten inside the random dungeons inside of legendary rank 39 weapons, which can only be gotten by stealing them from characters inside of rank 30+ weapons. Confused yet?
- Soul Nomad and The World Eaters has you spending money on (generally found for free) room items and summoning units. Making your main unit contain all of the hero characters greatly reduces the need for both, which when combined with a little room leveling can quickly make your money counter stuck at "too much" about halfway through your first playthrough.
- It seems NI realized how silly the levels of money were — in the PSP remakes of Both 1 and 2 you can buy music for quite a hefty price to play in the item world instead of the default one. The actual songs cost between 100K to one billion HL each.
- A rather unfortunate case occurs in the Rome iteration of the Total War series, of all games. After the first fifty turns or so, money tends to be no longer any problem. Viewing the graphs of civilisation-wealth over time shows player wealth as a straight line up, while all AI lines were almost horizontal on that scale. Combine this with the low cost of bribing enemy armies out of the way, and combat can become not just unneccesary, but actually more expensive. Even worse, when playing as one of the Roman fractions, bribing other Roman armies seems to add them to your army instead of merely disbanding them. Medival 2 fixed this (perhaps a bit too well).
Turn Based Tactics
- The extremely classic X-COM strategy game is weird, as is its photocopied sequel. The eponymous anti-alien group receives nowhere near enough funding, but once it succeeds in some missions it's suddenly the sole purveyor of alien technology, both surplus items and straightforward Vendor Trash. A reasonable starting investment can literally give money for free by manufacturing ultra-tech items for profit in bulk. Despite an economy that is either meager or wrecked, the game is still considered a good one for several reasons:
- It averts an Obvious Rule Patch where the situation begs for one. "So, I have the only company in the planet to build anti-gravity vehicles and I can't produce them for profit "just because?"
- The game is a genre hybrid. The meat is in squad-level combat surrounded by strategic resource management, and the combat likes to kick you in the teeth to the extent that all soldiers are fragile and a force that wishes to survive fields fairly high-level gear in the first place.
- The strongest equipment requires the Applied Phlebotinum Elerium, which can only be taken from the aliens' hands and is not subject to breakage.
- The funding nations expect value for their money and for allowing an independent military organization to run around in their territory with fusion warheads. They can't be ignored no matter how big cash surplus is.
- Selling alien corpses are also a good way to raise funds.
- The unliked Interceptor actually turned this habit on you, by having pirates which started operating with alien tech bought off the black market, clearly indicating it was the tech you sold.
Wide Open Sandbox
- In Grand Theft Auto III, the millions of dollars the player earns by completing the harder story missions and sidequests are essentially useless. Visiting the pay-and-spray is quite cheap ($1,000), and weapons and ammo are similarly inexpensive, not to mention available by exploring the environment. The game tries to make up for this by requiring the player to pay large sums of money at two points during the main story, but by the time they achieve Hundred-Percent Completion, most players are walking around with one or two million dollars and with nothing to spend it on.
- This also applies to later games in the series, but to significantly lesser extents, largely because of the introduction of purchasable savehouses.
- In Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars, not only it is ridiculously easy to make huge amounts of money dealing drugs, but scratch tickets tend to pay out pretty reliably. Taken together with the relative cheapness of safe houses and easy-to-find red dumpsters full of firearms, this means that the player is generally sitting on a huge pile of useless cash. Even being wasted or busted carries only a mild cash penalty.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there is a mission that requires you to spend about $80000 dollars on an abandoned airstrip to proceed; however, it is about two thirds of the way into the game, so it's possible to complete.
- In an earlier mission thread, C.J. moans and whines about needing ten grand... even when his bankroll is ten times as much.
- The latest installment of the series, Grand Theft Auto IV, features this trope in full-force. The series has done away with purchasable savehouses and businesses and has significantly toned-down the customization aspect from San Andreas. Pay N' Sprays have become far less useful and eating is no longer necessary. Consequently, the $500,000+ the player possesses by the end of the story is basically just for show (not to mention how despite this, Niko keeps bitching about how he needs the money before missions. One has to wonder the sheer size of Roman's debts...)
- In an aversion of this, the character from The Lost And Damned is comparatively poor, and doesn't receive as much money from missions. Although you get a discount from the gang's gun dealer, you generally are much poorer than in the main game or Ballad.
- In Grand Theft Auto 3, the easiest method of obtaining astronomical levels of wealth involves spawning a Tank and simply driving anywhere. As cars crash into the indestructible juggernaut, each explosion will inexplicably grant you money. Do this as long as you want to gain as much money as you need.
- Saints Row 3 gives you money based on how many neighbourhoods you own. At the start, you struggle to buy ammo and armour up a single car. Forget about character upgrades. By the time the money starts rolling in, you have every upgrade you need and anything after that is either overkill or outright cheating.
- Throughout the entire Saints Row series, you do earn realistic amounts of money but everything you can spend money on is insanely cheap. $10 for a grenade, $50 for a guided missile, $300 to fix up your ride after an encounter with a tank, $500 to repair and deliver the car you just drove off a cliff (itself unnecessary since fresh vehicles are free from your garage), $5000 to buy a store and $1000 for a full vehicle upgrade including a more powerful engine, ram bumpers, armour plating, nitrous and pearlescent paint. The only things with remotely realistic price points are fast food, new cars at Foreign Power (if you can't be bothered to drive around for 15 minutes and steal one) and some cribs. The six figure crib upgrade prices in the third game seem realistic until you realise what you are actually buying for that money is not just a new posh interior as in earlier games but the demolition of the entire building and construction of a hundred floor skyscraper in its place.
- Rockstar's Bully features this. Money is the main reward of completing story missions, but there are very few things of importance on which to spend money. Ammo and certain items are purchasable, but they're so inexpensive they may as well be free. Truly important things like savehouses and fighting moves are acquired only by progressing through the story. The main thing to spend money on is the player's wardrobe, which is simply cosmetic and probably of little interest to players not aiming for Hundred-Percent Completion.
- In the 360 version if you do everything else in the game, and presuming you're not grinding the side missions that can be repeated (delivering papers, mowing lawns), then at the end you will only have about half the money you need in order to buy all the clothing. The only reason to buy it all is for an achievement. Thankfully you can use a cheat code to increase your money without disabling any achievements.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has similar issues — with every single humanoid enemy dropping firearms and ammunition, as well as most dropping food, medicine, and bandages, there weren't many reasons to visit shops other than to upgrade or replace armor. The Vendor Trash and high mission rewards didn't help things, nor did the grand total of three traders with the slightest potential for anything useful.
- A particular part of this is that one of the negative Multiple Endings overrides all the others if you reach the end with enough money; a lot of people didn't even realise there were other bad endings you could get.
- Most people play it with mods installed, many of which make the traders charge you much more and pay you much less as well as having to pay money for maintenance of your equipment and making items like extra ammo and med supplies not only much more valuable, but also a hell of a lot rarer. Play Oblivion Lost or similar mods on hard mode and you may find yourself struggling not to go broke.
- Red Dead Redemption likewise features this trope. Ammunition is free from your safehouse and there are only a few additional safehouses to buy. Most guns are provided as you advance in the story or through sidequests and the few that you need to buy are generally limited only by unlocking the area where they're sold rather than not having the money to buy them. There are a wealth of horses you can buy, but the three best are found for free (and the first one is an early story mission) and can never be lost (if they die you just summon a new one for free). At the same time you get plenty of skins and animal parts to sell for significant sums of money. The developers clearly intended for buffalo to be viewed as a source of cash (you get a large amount for selling their pelts) weighed against being a limited resource that dies for good, but since they show up late in the game there's no need to kill them unless you really want to.
Non-video game examples:
- In the gamebook series Lone Wolf, you can find Gold Crowns almost anywhere, and take any money you earn from one book to the next. However, besides staying at inns, replacing lost weapons, or buying items from passing vendors, you won't be spending all that much. You can hit your max of 50 gold Crowns before the end of the first book.
- At least you get some use out of them. Kika, which you can get in a few places, is completely useless; it literally does nothing but take up space in your money pouch. (Well, there is one thing you can do with it...gamble for more Kika.) Let's not forget the Grey Star series, which had Nobles, which will prove handy a maximum of ONE time over the course of four adventures.
- The same is true in the Middle Earth Quest gamebooks. In A Spy in Isengard, for example, it is possible to find 20 Numenorean gold pieces, which in theory are very valuable. Good luck ever finding a place to spend them. The simple fact is, there will be very few occasions in any of the books to go shopping, and, even when you do, there will be very little available that is worth buying.
- In the RPGA campaign, Living City, money served no purpose, and so was given out at ludicrous amounts. Such as, "Thank you for saving my kitten, here's 1,000 gold pieces." Instead, the real treasure was magic items. Which, as it turns out, was also given out hand over fist for the first few years of the campaign. This led to events where the only way to progress through certain encounters was to give up magic items. In one event, the Elite Dragon Turtle required a + 2 magic item from each player or else it would eat the ship you were on. The campaign also reined back the amount of treasure it gave out, the end result being that many events were not completable by new players who weren't lucky enough to have an older player at the table to give up multiple such items in order to allow the group to continue.
- The RPGA Living Greyhawk campaign tried to subvert this by instituting a "Gold Cap" policy and accounting-style "Record Sheet" in year two. All possessions of a character had a gold piece value attached to it, and had to be accounted for on record sheets that had to be updated after every event. Treasure was automatically converted to a gold piece amount and split evenly among the party regardless of whether or not the players wanted an equal distribution. Then, the "Character Worth" could be allocated into equipment or magic items that the player had previously "unlocked" during game play. The overly complicated vague rule caused the Exodus of Year Two and led many players and former players to refer to the game as "Living Accounting" because updating the Character Worth and the Record Sheet often took as much time as playing the actual game events.
- The Living Death RPGA campaign gave a character income for every event played, even though there was never anything to actually spend money on. Game affecting equipment was given to you either just before or (more often) just after your character needed it, and non-game affecting equipment (such as clothing or purely role playing descriptive items) was free.
- D20 Modern has problems with unlimited Wealth (yes, it's capitalized). It doesn't measure money as money, but as a Wealth rating, which can go up and down over the course of the game.
- You usually start with a Wealth rating of about 6, which is too low to buy anything useful. You'll probably buy a gun, some bullets, and then you're out of Wealth. Buying a car or house as a starting character is usually out of the question. Good thing you don't have to buy anything else, and naturally, there's no rules for rent, upkeep or anything else. Want bullets? Kill a bad guy and take theirs. Threw away a gun? Well, make sure you shot a bad guy and took theirs first! Want grenades? Likewise. Only characters who want to make things (like chemical weapons) really need to spend money, and there are abuses just for them. Some character concepts, like martial artists, need not spend any money at all!
- To buy something, you have to make a Wealth check. The amount of Wealth lost is somewhat random. You might lose more money buying a car than a house. Once you reach a Wealth of 15, anything that costs less costs nothing at all. While virtually all guns cost over 15, you probably don't need to keep buying them.
- Every level, you gain Wealth, as well as for adventuring rewards. If you bought the Profession skill, you gain obscene amounts of Wealth, just for sitting on your butt. (The game has no rules for jobs.)
- Neopets has an on-site browser RPG called Neo Quest II. In the first two or three levels, the player will likely be always short of money for healing potions and inn rests — but after the healer joins the party, the money flowing in really has not many place to go — healing potions are only relevant in boss battles now, and buyable equipment is inferior to droppables. During the last two chapters the player typically would only buy max stacks of speed, slowing, and healing potions in preparation fo the final boss battle, and face the final boss filthy rich.
- Many games on Facebook, IMVU and the like center on having friends give you special items to complete projects. If you don't have many friends, or have a great deal of projects, you'll end up being drastically behind on necessary materials... while the other goodies pile up uselessly. Either you can't make any use of them without the extra goodies, or else you can use them only on decorations or things not necessary to advance in the game.
- In Mafia Wars, buying properties results in exponential money growth - so much so that you can make billions of dollars a day in rent on said properties. That said, it only applies to your current location - if you decide to take on the Bangkok missions, you start with only a pittance of money despite the fact that you're a trillionare back home. (There aren't any money exchanges in Mafia Wars.)
- And don't bother writing "Ollar" in the magic book. You'll get a stack of Ollars, sure, but it won't be added to your account.
- doing the only missions in the game that cost more to accept than you get from completing them around seventy or eighty times over
- how much money you throw at this task pretty much determines how good Morphers are
- to use a World of Warcraft term, because it had triple normal hit points and armor class
- And your chicks for free.