Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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eBay-resistant virtual economies.

October 13th, 2004 · No Comments · Gaming, Politics, Technology

A very interesting piece on harnessing and/or controlling the “real world” economic value inherent in MMOGs.

Among MMOG customers and developers, online debate rages about the unfairness of the time-investment vs. money-investment trade-off. Those who have an excess of one resource and a shortage of the other face off against those with the opposite resource imbalance. I will not retread that ground here, but instead offer an alternative approach to the entire idea of the virtual market.

An eBay compatible virtual economy is (now) a design choice. We may not have known that this would happen a decade ago (though, arguably, we should have), but now there’s no excuse for ignoring this effect when developing a new game. We can design our products, service rollout, Terms of Service and End User License Agreements with our eyes wide open.

We don’t have to do it the same old way, especially if it doesn’t make sense for our game. There are other virtual market designs that do not have these same properties, and may be suited better to your property, especially if externalizing virtual object markets will be harmful to the health and/or profitability of your product.

Additional reading:

Julian Dibbell’s Play Money

Dr. Edward Castronova’s Introduction to Virtual Item Trading (now featuring 65% more Camelot-related examples!)

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