I know you are talking about working on a supply vs demand system for the game. I have some thoughts on this and how to maybe think about doing it in the game. As I have some concerns about how It might be carried out, based on comments by the devs.
In the current system, Warehouses act as just an extension of a business. Profit is not taken into consideration. The profit margin is static and adds no real room for complexity or controlling the market. I know you’re trying to fix this.
I see a lot of wasted money in the current system. Here is how I would fix this and make the game a bit more complex but easier to implement.
Supply and demand is a very limited view of how a system like this would work. These factors should be taken into mind when setting up a system like this. Market shares, although important and would add a lot of flavor to the game would not tell the whole story.
I think setting up a production cap over a certain amount of time per item and making manufacturing companies that can be contacted in-game via the phone for amazing discounts the more you buy would add complexity to the game and give real value to the supply and demand aspect. This could be achieved on the stock market. This should supply product to all the businesses in the game, not just the player’s. This would mean expanding the warehouse system, of course, to maybe save up for buying an entire stock of something. It’s a huge risk and could not pay off if you cannot get rid of, say, 100k hot dogs before they expire (which would also be a great feature - expiration). Expiration applies to everything, and let me explain why. Instead of mimicking new products coming into the market, having an expiration date would imitate seasons in fashion or new products coming out. The only one that should be a hard expiration should be food products, which would routinely have to be discarded for the game’s realistic aspect, and I’ve even given thought to ways of discarding it as expirations become closer and notifications can pop up, giving the player a choice to take the risk and keep the product in the store in the hopes it’ll sell or donate to a shelter that could be added, creating a moral choice and adding a PR function or a marketing function, which could perhaps add a .05% increase in sales.
I think every aspect of the supply chain should be viable, lowering your cost and increasing the profit margin, but each business should stand alone and be making money somehow. This includes your warehouses. I run several businesses in real life and I think the thing that annoys me the most is that your warehouses don’t take things like insurance or a driver’s schedule into account. Although you have purchasing agents and logistic management, I feel it’s lacking still, and this would add in what I think is lacking. The insurance would protect you from accidents, and I also think you should be forced to buy insurance for vehicles, as is reflected in real life NY. These are all business expenses that every business has to incur when dealing with vehicles, but you can also add in building insurance and stuff like that.
The game should not keep track of how much an item should be sold for, that should actually be up to the player, but they should be competitive with other businesses as there are other giant corporations that should be selling as well, and be selling at a lower price. The player should be focusing on service at the beginning of the game, then price as the gameplay continues and reaches endgame. The reason being that is how businesses compete in a supply and demand market. They don’t necessarily hit the same price points but because the service is much better and the stores are cleaner, people will come back. This is something your company Hovgaard games knows a lot about. You are amazing at this. although you can’t do what EA does, I would choose your company over them. For this very reason. This game should imitate that.
I think the thing that annoys me the most is that the supply chain is not really present in the game. You have an importer and a wholesaler. We need access to a manufacturer and this would bring the supply chain into the full circle - you don’t necessarily need to produce the object, just the end result (you wouldn’t need farms and such). Having a hard cap on those and being allowed to buy into that and push slightly above it would put a strain on the market and allow for greater profits. It would be interesting to see in a game.
I’ve talked in another post about how diamonds have overinflated value. This is due to the supply chain and how it’s controlled. It’s essentially a monopoly, which is what I believe you’re trying to imitate. In order to do so you’ll have to add in manufacturing and allowing the player to be able to buy that up and control it, as well as choking out the rest of the competition.
Instead of a wholesaler or importer, as is had in the current model of the game, adding in a manufacturer would allow the player to control the profit margins instead of the other businesses. This is where a company really makes its money. It should be risky as well, stuff should expire and these things should be taken into account when the player buys. In the beginning, it shouldn’t be about how much you obtain, it should be about the service, the cleanliness, etc. Later it should be about the profit. Right now that isn’t the case. Currently, it’s about how many people you can obtain while keeping stores clean and popularity up. I know this will have an added problem as you’ll have to divide customers into several categories, ones that care about price, ones that care about service, and ones that care about both. This is where the supply and demand should come into fruition because instead of supplying the actual goods, you’re supplying the service the customers are looking for. Making the player choose for themselves which of these areas they focus on. Not having a cleaning staff may allow for lower prices at the risk of alienating other customers. But this is just a thought I recently had.
But having a supply chain cycle that the player can actually see that is longer than just three sources makes the game seem more complex and allows the player to choose at which point to enter the supply chain at, increasing their profit. But every step of the way should be about increasing that profit margin which, right now, you have no control over in-game. As I said, I run several businesses. I will literally spend months trying to find the cheapest means to get the product that I’m trying to push out the door while trying to find the right customers to spend the most amount of money on. Balance is key, but I think that giving more complexity to customers, the supply chain, etc. would make this game explode onto a whole new level of strategy that I would absolutely revel in, as I think many others would.