EverQuest 2 has a pretty nice broker system. Swings and roundabouts when comparing it to player-vending systems in other MMOs. See the end of the post for a description of how the EQ2 broker system works.
In the current Free-2-Play EQ2x, which is still in beta at this time, bronze and silver customers can browse the broker but can neither buy nor sell from it unless they buy a set of “Broker Tokens”.
IMHO, access to the broker could provide a fairly significant upsell point (a point at which you’re likely to part with cash). The current model violates the old “first one’s free” principle. By so rigidly excluding these players not only from consumption but also contribution, you also diminish the potential upsell capacity of the feature. Less worthwhile feature = less upsell.
Naturally, I have some thoughts on a simple restructure of the idea that I feel would build a positive-feedback loop of worth => upsell => worth => upsell etc…
1a. Allow all players to shop from player’s houses, this will feed/fuel the economy, give players a free taste of the pleasures of brokerage, but leave value for broker tokens,
1b. Set a limit on the number of transactions per period of time for bronze accounts, or a vitality-type system so that they can shop, but not till they drop,
1c. Bronze/silver customers retain the broker fee when shopping from a house unless using a broker token,
1d. Add a silver-only one-time unlock that eliminates the broker fee when shopping from a house,
2a. Add an SC item that unlocks either 4 or 8 broker sales so that when the player has less sales than the number of slots unlocked, they don’t need a broker token. Limit bronze to one unlock of the 4 item option; allow bronze to unlock upto, say, 40. Extra sales require a broker token,
2b. Charge bronze and silver accounts a commission on their sales of 10, 15 or 20% when (a) the item sells, (b) the player removes the item from the broker unless they use a broker token,
2c. Add an SC item to permanently reduce the commission fee for silver accounts.
How the EQ2 broker system works:
You put a bag or box of some kind onto the broker screen and then you put your sales into that container. The number of container slots you have can be increased by upgrading to a larger player house. Sales have no time limit and no fee for selling, but there is a fee for buying through the brokerage system.
If you use a display crate for your sales and display it in your house, players can avoid the broker fee by coming and buying direct from you (“Visit such a house” is listed next as part of the merchant name).