Some Fallout 76 players really want to become in-game traders, even if the game, and Reddit, doesn’t want them to

We’ve only had a few hours to spend in the Fallout 76 beta, ahead of the full Fallout 76 release. But players are already planning more alternative lifestyles; ditching the whole  ‘saviour of humanity’ thing for a more humble life as a trader in the nuclear wastes. 

Becoming a trader in an online world is an old idea, with numerous MMOs and other persistent world games, things like Ultima Online, World or Warcraft or Eve Online making it possible - either intentionally or via the freedom of its mechanics - to earn an in-game living collecting and making things to sell to other players. In Fallout 76 you can freely buy and sell anything you find or craft with the people you meet. You can set the price and the amount, and even give something away for nothing in order to barter in kind (check out our Fallout 76 trading tips for more detail).

For a lot of Fallout 76 players it’s juiced up their roleplaying glands far more than battling a bunch of Protectrons during a mission. Before the beta even launched they were discussing economies, trading locations and the features needed to make a viable ‘trader’ role within the post apocalyptic world. 

Sale of the (next) century

For lot of people, the dream is setting up a C.A.M.P. somewhere safe where players can visit to buy their wares. Numerous locations have been proposed and dissected for potential use. The Greenbriar is a popular choice because of its abundance of vendor robots, workbenches and good C.A.M.P. areas. The New River Gorge Bridge has also been suggested, as well as Charleston and a range of other places. All share similar characteristics of being easy to reach, defend and inhabit (bridges in particular, with their limited end to end access seem to be a popular choice around the map).

Of course, whatever the discussion right now, only long term play will decide where traders settle, if at all. “I’m pretty sure people will naturally gravitate towards ‘safe’ spots around the map,” suggests Omegacat on Reddit. Adding in their own suggestion: “Vault 76 has no fast travel cost, and the spacious veranda out front with the nice view, I’d imagine that it’ll end up as the first and most common unofficial ‘trading hub’”.

People are setting up reddits, forums and Discord servers to plan locations, meetings and set prices. And, while it’s all largely academic at this point, there’s already been the equivalent of a trade war with the older, more established Fallout reddits like r/fo76, r/Fallout, r/fo4 and more. Those groups, apparently moderated by largely the same set of people, appear to have been quietly removing a lot of mentions of the new r/Market76, set up purely to discuss trading. The r/Market76 reddit has its own post on the conflict, but it hasn’t stopped people finding the reddit and starting a fledgling economy. 

Have Stimpaks, will travel

Conflicts aside the r/Market76 is already full of those wanting to trade Stimpaks for Shotgun shells or seeing if anyone want to sell Fusion cores. There’s even an established syntax for trading requests to keep things neat and simple. Browsing these threads shows a community that want nothing more than to set up shop in Fallout 76 - discussing the potential locations, swapping DMs to meet up in game and, to the curious, explaining why their video game dream is basically a job in retail. “For me there are two things that appeal about it. First, I feel like I'm helpful to other folks, while still being able to get caps. Second, running a shop in a game requires hunting and gathering things to sell, which is an enjoyable activity for me,” explains Corgandane. “That's why I did it in Minecraft, and I enjoyed mining when I used to play Eve Online”.

Elsewhere, people point out the service they could provide as a trader: “What if I don't want to go looking for wood today?” says superawesomefiles. “What if I'd rather just build instead of hunting down particular components? What if I want to spend the day exploring but don't want to waste time prepping?” The mechanics of how it will all work are being weighed up and discussed across numerous posts. “I want to try to be a seller/trader in this game for a bit, how is the best way to go about it?” asks tetsuo1667. “Would it be better to just be a traveling salesman and carry your goods with you?”

A lot of the discussion seems to highlight just how much work it would take to make Fallout 76’s player-to-player trading into a more game-wide economy. Right now, trading for a living in-game will require a certain amount of brute force to really make it work. You can’t really set up a shop for example, just place your C.A.M.P. down and hope people pass by. Or take it all with you and chase people around. Player counts also don’t really favour a vibrant bustling market, either. With only a couple of dozen people on a map at a time the bustling trading people hubs some people clearly envision aren’t really going to happen. 

Survive and demand

There are also economy issues to deal with. As this post explains the current game can’t really support the ebb and flow of trade right now. KarstXT makes an important point: “Everyone largely needs the same resources and everyone largely generates the same excess resources, while the game has no sinks for excess resources and no efficient way to generate scarce resources.” So “some items would have infinite demand to the point they just aren't sold”, such as Stimpaks, while “wood/steel are largely byproducts of salvaging other things for stuff you need. People won't need to buy wood because they'll be generating more than they need while trying to get rarer scrap.” 

Basically, resources currently aren’t removed from the world in any meaningful way; everything in the world regenerates over time, or resets every time you log in. And if there’s one thing trade needs it’s supply and demand - currently Fallout 76 is all supply and no demand.  

But that’s not stopping people from suggesting ideas and ways it could work, and with an online game like Fallout 76 anything could happen via future updates. Especially when it’s something the players really want. Some are calling for a global economy to set price ranges according to trade across all servers, or separate, more survival focused servers and modes to make materials more meaningful. As for the physical issues of trading, there are suggestions to include the ability to rename or mark C.A.M.P.s to make them more visible for trading. Automated trading posts that players can leave behind while logged off are another popular suggestions. Even Vendertrons have been brought up, basically player owned Protectrons that roam the wasteland selling their goods in their absence. 

People want to trade in Fallout 76, that much is clear. And, after only a handful of hours in the beta, they’re already talking, planning, and working on ideas and theories to make it work. Whether you care about it or not, it’s a good sign for Fallout 76 because it doesn’t matter how much work the developer puts into a world, it’s the players that bring it to life. And already Fallout 76 players are finding their own ways to play the game, before it’s even really out. As the game evolves and grows over the years Bethesda plans it to run, who knows? Maybe you’ll own one of the best shops in Toxic Valley one day.