Imagine that someone has been put in charge of creating a new market for some kind of commodity. They have ultimate regulatory power. What kind of market mechanisms could they put in place to discourage hoarding for temporal arbitrage?

The reason I am asking: I'm presenting a slightly tongue-in-cheek thought experiment for using an internal market to efficiently allocate a budget of something (share of RAM in a video game) between the different teams that use it (art, audio, physics, etc). In particular I want to create an incentive for teams to put energy into conserving this resource.

This commodity is metaphorically similar to space on a cargo ship:

  • Fixed in supply (the console has a specific amount memory we must all share / the ship is fixed in size)
  • Useful at one specific time in the future and expires afterward (the project ships to customers / the ship sails on a particular day)
  • Fungible (one kilobyte / container is like another)
  • Easily transferrable (it's just numbers in a budget)
  • Has differently shaped marginal value and cost curves for different teams

Different teams have different tradeoffs they can make: the design team can reduce their use of space by spending more labor time on optimizing their scripts. The textures team can save space by reducing quality. The engineering team can help other teams compact their assets by spending engineering time on inventing better compression (at the cost of taking that time away from other R&D). The idea is for teams to barter for memory with other resources - polycount, CPU time, task priority, testing hours, overtime, etc.

But this purpose will be undermined if teams grab a lot of memory early, just so they can sell it later in the project when its price is higher. That reduces allocation efficiency. How could one design a market to deter that kind of hoarding?



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