Make Joja Mart items cheaper than Pierre's

Fireflydrake

Farmhand
This was a point I never understood in the game. The NPCs talk about Joja being cheaper, Morris boasts about discounts, a central underpinning of the game is whether you sell your soul for a cheaper product or support your unique community...

Yet his products cost MORE? Even with a membership they're not cheaper than Pierre's.

Hence I propose making them cheaper. To really stick the landing it would be nice if Joja products were clearly inferior quality (could never produce starred crops, grow slower, some seeds don't sprout at all etc) and if Pierre's shop withered away without your support (offers less and less product line, special dialogue about the family's struggles. If you start buying from them, you can restore the original full product offerings.)
 

ConcernedApe

Creator & Developer
Staff member
yeah, the entire Joja idea is something I wish I could've spent more time on. The items there being more expensive doesn't make any sense from a narrative perspective, but If I recall, my thinking at the time was... gameplay-wise, I didn't want shopping at Joja Mart to be a superior choice. I'm not sure why I made them more expensive, except maybe to offset the fact that they are open longer hours and on wednesdays. I like the idea of the items being cheaper but worse quality (e.g. they can't produce quality crops). That's something I just didn't do because adding in that mechanic would've taken extra time, pre-1.0, and Joja was actually kind of a last-minute addition to the game anyway... I was really eager to release the game.

But changing it now, 5 years after launch, also seems kind of crazy because that would be a pretty major change. But... maybe
 

Fireflydrake

Farmhand
yeah, the entire Joja idea is something I wish I could've spent more time on. The items there being more expensive doesn't make any sense from a narrative perspective, but If I recall, my thinking at the time was... gameplay-wise, I didn't want shopping at Joja Mart to be a superior choice. I'm not sure why I made them more expensive, except maybe to offset the fact that they are open longer hours and on wednesdays. I like the idea of the items being cheaper but worse quality (e.g. they can't produce quality crops). That's something I just didn't do because adding in that mechanic would've taken extra time, pre-1.0, and Joja was actually kind of a last-minute addition to the game anyway... I was really eager to release the game.

But changing it now, 5 years after launch, also seems kind of crazy because that would be a pretty major change. But... maybe
Oh wow, what an honor to get a response from the creator yourself! I only recently got into the game and it's been a real joy. Thanks so much for making it!

(sorry if this is everyone's reaction. I'm new haha)

Yah, I can see how fiddling with such a major underlying part of the game this late in could be a lot. All the same, thanks for giving it thought!
 

tomaO2

Sodbuster
TLDR: Make Joja cheaper, but have a % of all money spent buying Joja products go towards forcing you to become a Joja member. Exact mechanisms can very from that base.


Ooh, OP got a reply. Lucky. I was scrolling through Ape's other posts, and that seems to be the first suggestion thread post that I can see. Doesn't post much at all, other than replies to bugs and stuff. I would have thought there would be a few more. Honestly, if you want to keep adding to the game, it seems like you could spend another 5 years adding them. There is a lot of interesting stuff to talk about when discussing improvements to the game.

Anyway, inferior seeds does seem a bit complicated to manage. I personally don't like the idea of different quality seeds. Different quality seeds mean that the produce made will also be different as well. If you plant a joja blueberry seed, get the blueberry, and then make that blueberry a seed, then that seed will also have to be of the lower quality. Basically, you are adding a new item number for every single growable item that Jojo sells. Meh. You can do it, but I am not a fan of this method, and I don't think it adds much to the narrative. By making it lower quality, you are still making players want to buy from Pierre instead, and the goal is to make a player want to buy from Joja. You aren't really acting like the savior of the town if you are constantly buying there.

On the other hand, if it's better to buy from there, players are going to do so, so you need any savings to be minimal. You could add a lot of story elements, to try and guilt the player into doing the "right" thing, but that seems like a lot of work.

While I think it was a good call to not have a time limit on how long it takes to complete the game (there is no way I'm finishing the the fish bundles in the week I have left before end of year 2, and I would not have been happy to have my work wrecked because of that), I feel that this looming threat is what needs to be leaned into in order to make the player not want to buy from the mega-mart.

I'd suggest a flat 5% discount of Joja over Pierre's in everything until the community center question is resolved. You might ask if there is an increased saving after becoming a member. I'm going to say no, and that it will be less, in fact, but that I have an idea for this.

My idea is to add a mechanic that buying from Joja creates an in store credit that lowers the cost of the 5k membership. Yes, buying from Joja is cheaper, and helps you out personally, but doing so inches you closer to gaining that last membership needed to convince the mayor to sell the community center. This adds a bit of a ticking clock by getting something in the mail every time you pass another 1k spending milestone in Joja. Next day you get a letter from Joja saying that the Joja in-store credit program has added 100$ to the cost of becoming a full member (or a mail saying you got 200$ for spending 2k that day, and so on).

I would imagine the process would work like this. Joja works like one of those bulk membership stores. You cannot buy products unless becoming a member. With Joja, there is becoming part of the 5,000$ membership club, or being given a guest pass (cost is the same for a 'guest' as it is for a member, so no extra discount for "officially" joining). If you try to buy without being a member/guest, the cashier will say that you have to join first, and to please talk to the manager. When talking to the manager, he offers the full membership, and when you say no, he fast talks you into taking a guest pass. Afterwards, he tells you that you can also become a full member just by buying 50k worth of products from the store using your guest pass.

This would also answer the question of why did everyone else buy such an expensive membership in the first place. They didn't, the manager pulled the same trick on all of them, and they kept buying from the Joja until ending up getting the full membership as a result.

Also, you should get some mails advertising sale days, sales being the real draw that brought people to buy there. I'd say they could happen once a month or so. Could also just have them posted on the calendar as well. Alternatively, if you want to go with the coupon route. You get a letter, there is a coupon attachment, the attachment flies into your wallet, and stays there until you enter Joja. Afterwards, it triggers/disappears. Anything you buy in Joja that day is 1/2 off. However, buying on sale also increases the membership bonus as well. For every 1k you spend on a sale day, you get 200$ towards a new membership, instead of 100$. Minimum of 200$ bonus if you buy anything, even if you don't spend a full 1k that day. Sale days are counted separately from normal days, and do not stack with other sale days.

With a little additional work, you could do it for specific products as well. That backpack for 2k at Pierre's? The same day you get an advertisement from Pierre, you also get one from Joja, and Joja is actually open on Wednesday, the day you get the letter (no idea why that ad for the backpack comes on the day that Pierre's is closed). Furthermore, the Joja backpack is only 1k. If you buy from one, the other also disappears at the same time. Good deal, right?

The downside is that the Joja backpack is worth 5 times the normal amount of in-store credit towards becoming a full Joja member. So, you can buy that backpack for just 1k, but it puts you 500$ closer to that 5000$ membership. Not so bad, you think, but then you see that 10k second upgrade backpack at Pierre's is only 5k at Joja, so you buy that too, and now you are 500+2500=3k down the road to the full membership (could add an achievement saying something like "sold half my soul to Joja" after getting past the 2,500 mark as an additional mark of shame for buying too much there).

You promise not to buy anymore, but, wait, just after you sent your hoe to be upgraded to a copper hoe, there is a new flier that says you can trade in your old worn down tools to Joja, and get brand new upgraded ones for half the cost as at the local blacksmith, AND you don't need to give any ore, or wait 3 days? Normal cost for upgrading all four of your tools (trash can excluded) is 8k, plus 20 copper bars, and wait a total of 12 days. If you use Joja, you only have to spend 4k, give 0 copper bars, and wait 0 days. The one downside is that you have to buy all 4 tools as a package deal, and this includes the tool that you recently upgraded (this deal is triggered by buying your first copper tool. When you buy it, the deal to buy them all is posted the next day). That said, I'm still saving 3k overall. Plus, I don't have to wait 3 days or find more copper. While it's annoying to buy everything at once, it's still the better deal. So you do that. All good, right?

Not so much. See, that purchase was also a special deal. Which means it's at 5 times the normal in store credit rate. Lets see, 4k normally gives a return of 400. Times 5 and it's up to 2k. Meaning that you are adding another 2k to the full membership program. You were at 3k, after buying the two backpack upgrades, with another 2k... Oh, it seems you bought enough that you are now a full member. Bye, bye, Community Center.

This is how I'd envision Joja working. With 3 simple purchases, you can instantly get sucked in, and they are all so very tempting purchases to make, but if you have a strong will, and don't allow yourself to sell your soul to Joja, you can became a true savior of Pelican Town. This tool idea gets more tempting as time goes on. Iridium tools for half off, and no more mining? Ugh, but doing that would instantly mean you became a Joja member. You can't do it. On the other hand, you can skip that grinding....

Now, here is the fun part, as soon as Joja gets the community center (or maybe after all the community upgrades are purchased), there will be one last letter sent out to the player (and town). Something along the lines of Joja being unable to keep giving the low, low, prices of the past due to the expense of buying the community center, or some such nonsense. From now on, Joja customers will now pay 5% more than at Pierres. Joja doesn't care anymore. It got what it wanted.

Additionally, you could cap the number of items Pierre sells at a monthly limit at this point, which shows how he's being squeezed out. If you want to buy more than 500 blueberries during summer, then you need to get the rest at Joja. Maybe the Joja manager is now selling items at the various festivals, instead of Pierre, as well, and there are no more sales. Add some new dialogue for the wife to explain why Joja is selling instead of Pierre, and Pierre doesn't bother coming out for those events anymore. Not needed, but it sells that Joja is in charge of the town now.

Also, keep note that the cost for directly buying a a full membership also goes down as you buy more. It was initially 5000$, but a year later on, after making several Joja purchases, you talk to him again, and find out that it now only cost 3400$. Talking to the manager is also the only way to find out how close you are to becoming a full member as well.

This gives a fun push/pull to the threat of Joja but it's also easy to avoid as well. I've played almost 100 hours in my new playthrough, and I haven't bought a single thing from Joja. I might have, however, if I got some mail offering sweet deals, and a competitive price point, even if that would start me on the path to becoming a full member.

This seems a fairly simple option to add, in my mind. Most of it doesn't require anything all that is new. A bit of dialogue added when you first talk to the Joja manager, some mail from time to time, a message telling you that you need to be a member to buy anything, and a tracker for how much money you spent at Joja, and you gain the membership for free. If you want to go with the special items idea, which would count separately from the normal purchase/sales, just add a display area to buy separately, like with the backpack. The tool idea would need you to carry all 4 tools with you and they are all traded in for the new ones.

I'm no programmer, or even a modder, but I think this would be easy enough to implement. Most importantly, I feel this makes Joja the actual threat the game says they are, and plays well with the themes of the game.

PS. On another note. Apperently you can become a member before getting the cutscene of the mayor talking about the community center? Not sure if that was fixed or not, but there is no reason for that cutscene to trigger if you became a member first.
 
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Fireflydrake

Farmhand
@tomaO2 oooh, I actually really like the idea of Joja mailing you discounts, and every purchase being another step towards them sneakily forcing a membership on you. Morris bulldozing you into buying an entry level membership also sounds on point for his character. Also love him hiking prices after Pierre is driven out.

That being said I think more than a measly 5% discount is needed to really pull people in. 10%-20% IMO. I know with the discounts you mentioned that might be ample temptation, but I think there should be a bit more pull for buying normal things there as well. Maybe I'm just looking at the game differently, but I like the challenge of actually having to resist what makes more "immediate" sense to do in favor of doing what's "right." Yes it's just a game, and happily not a preachy one, but I found stopping to think about the real world implications of the harms of monopolized business to be one of the more poignant parts of the game. And that's now, when Joja is MORE EXPENSIVE. The point goes home even better if it's the other way around.

And as another counterpoint to lower prices, I still really like lower quality items. Again fits the theme and what NPCs say. You made a good point about seed makers, but maybe all Joja seeds (and end products) could be marked with a Joja logo to clearly show them, and what they produce, as inferior.

Oh, last thing! While this indeed might be a lot to edit in the main game, I know 1.5 has some options for remixing bundles, changing difficulty and all that. Maybe any changes to Joja could also be offered as an alternative starting option? Less disruptive, plus more challenge and new content for returning players.
 

tomaO2

Sodbuster
Hmm, I dunno if a 10%-20% lower base price is needed. Especially if you have the discount day being the first day of the month (which is available space on the calendar for all seasons). Smart players do a lot of their shopping on the first day. Any product that had more than a 5%, I think, should also be a bulk order. You can buy potatoes normally, or buy Joja packages of 10 at a time. Selling in bulk is how mega stores like Joja make their profit, after all. That gives a bit more of a stylistic choice between Joja and Pierres. You can buy individual (higher quality?) seeds from Pierres, but they are more expansive.

Actually. Bulk orders would also be good as an additional special display option, along with the tool/backpack spots, especially if they are the most profitable seeds. For instance, Joja could sell a special mega bulk order of 50 strawberry seeds at the start of summer at a tremendous discount. That would also a way for the game to tell the player what the most valuable crops are. Not sure what is best? Check Joja. Joja is selling a bulk cranberry special, so that must be the best crop for fall. On the downside, those seeds will also have a big increase towards your in-store credit program. I really like the idea of the credit system and having it ramp up for extremely tempting sales that the player will want to get but will also quickly cause Jojo to destroy the community center if you do.

Also, yea, that's how it would have to work if you added joja seeds. It would be a Joja corn, or Joja strawberry. Maybe just list them as GMO crops, because the whole organic verses genetically modified is the real world version of this idea of cheaper food vs better food. Certainly doable.
 

Degemination

Newcomer
I feel like if you want this to be accurate to real life, JoJo would be cheaper until it runs Pierre out business, then Jojo would jack up the price. Maybe that is a bit of a downer for such a happy game . . but something along the lines of it’s cheaper but there’s a downside would make sense.
 

Boo1972

Farmer
It’s interesting that this has become a topic of conversation, because in my experience, prices at most large retailers are pretty comparable. Sure, they’ll have loss leaders like milk or eggs (or Sunflowers in Joja’s case) to entice you in and convince you that prices are cheaper across the board. But if you examine the unit price even bulk store prices can be matched at your local grocery. Of course, handmade, small batch products will always be more expensive than their industrialized counterparts, but there’s a place for both. Small towns, Main Streets and the folks who live there need to be really focused on how to offer value and experiences the Joja Marts of the world can’t. It’s tough. I just wish Amazon and Walmart would recognize the value of thriving downtowns and do more to mitigate the harm their business practices cause.

Anyway, it’s just my long winded way of saying that the Joja marts of the world aren’t always as inexpensive as they’d have you believe.
 

rippytrippy

Planter
yes pls. it's so stupid that they're more expensive. it just makes the whole joja mart building a waste of space except on Wednesdays maybe.
 

imnvs

Local Legend
There needs to be a drawback to going Joja. The drawback to going CC is all the work you have to put into collecting all the things. Joja, all you have to do is collect money. It's easy mode. Making it even easier going the Joja route? Meh.
 

tomaO2

Sodbuster
I completely agree that there needs to be a drawback to going to Joja, and there are a few basic ones, even when you remove the price of goods. Joja is further, which will instantly turn off players, and you cannot discount the narrative telling you that you should not buy from there. Beyond that, I'm pretty sure drawbacks were given. OP suggested low quality seeds, and it was suggested a few times that Joja only has low prices until it manages to buy the Community Center. I don't think anyone believes that Joja should give discount prices forever, but there is a narrative discontinuance when you see all this talk of cheap prices that doesn't really manifest in gameplay. In addition, I suggested that the act of buying from Joja forces a Joja membership on you.

Don't tell me that joining Joja isn't a drawback. Doing so may be easy mode but it's an easy mode that NO ONE WANTS (except serial divorcing, child dovering, scum, like DangerouslyFunny, lol).

I find it interesting that the achievement for making 10 million (5.2%) was accomplished by more people than selling out to Joja (3.3%). Anyone that makes that much is either a hardcore player or using a ton of mods. I'd imagine both types would have several save files that are fairly complete, and yet they STILL don't do the easy route of just using that money with Joja, not even once. For many, the idea of going the easy route just does not compute. Meanwhile, the achievement for saving the community center has a 18.0% accomplished rating, which is pretty close to the million dollar achievement (24.6%). I think this really shows that most people would rather not support the big corporation. Becoming a member is undeniably not a desirable thing. Likewise, I don't need to have that final quest to make a movie theater out of Joja Werehouse. If you sell out, I think it's fine to not get a full play experience.

However, if that isn't enough, here are some other ideas.

1. I would personally also be okay with locking content behind not restoring the community center. There is no reason for Willy to bring out his boat if Joja is still around, so I would lock all the island content from a Joja playthrough. I would also be okay with the Junimos not being willing to help the fields after you decided to not help them out with the Community Center (a Joja wage slave hut that you have to pay X amount of gold a month to keep active would be a good alternative though).

2. An idea that isn't really explored in this game is how cheap prices affect the producer. For instance, what if you could be forced to sell your produce to Joja if you become a member? Since Joja is all about quantity, not quality, Joja could buy all your produce at a single set price. This means that you get no benefit for having silver/gold/iridium crops. Don't bother with fertilizer, you don't get any benefit from it, now that you are a part of Jojo.

Actually, there is, right now, an option to lower seed profit when starting the game. If you do that, then seeds also are lowered by the same percentage. When I think about it in those terms, wouldn't that be a great way to fit in the Joja seeds idea? Forget about low quality seeds and just take that basic game idea to make things hards. All seeds are 50% cheaper to buy, but sell at 50% as well. All Joja seeds are sold back to the Joja store, which is why you get less money for them. Why, Joja could be considered the in game hard mode then! Players make it a point of pride only to buy Joja seeds because it makes the game harder for themselves.

It would take a bit of work, but it also might be cool if that 25% hard mode also changed the story so that Joja had already bought the werehouse before you arrived. You are now forced into the Joja playthrough. Everything is cheaper, but Joja also buys all the produce and you make very little from doing so.

3. Another aspect you could use is heart levels. If you buy a lot from Joja, then maybe that should affect heart levels between you and other members of the town. There is no reason for Pierre to be sending you those cash rewards if you don't buy anything from him. Every 1000 you spend at Joja could lower your friendship points with Pierre's family, even if you are full hearts at the time. Maybe you could even put a cap on the max hearts. If you buy 50k, then Pierre might have his friendship capped at 9 hearts. Maybe Abigail will get upset about how you keep buying from there and break up with you if you are dating her. This would work especially well if it was part of a storyline where Pierre went out of business and was forced to work as a Joja employee. Abby blames you for putting her dad out of work, or some such. On the other hand, just buying from Pierres could also raise your friendship points with his family as well.
 
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We all know that Morris gave 50% coupons. Everyone exclude us have them so the NPC's buys the items in cheaper prices. In game explanation for it!
 

Cristu

Newcomer
Simple programming idea that still fits the story: the prices in Joja are theorically cheaper BUT when you pay, they actually cost more than the price told.
Example: you see a seed that costs 10G but when you click it, you get the seed and 15G are discounted from your money.
 
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