The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Play money.

June 17th, 2003 · No Comments · Gaming, Technology

Julian Dibbell wrote a piece in Wired last December about virtual economies within MMORPGs, focusing on the venerable (and profitable) UO economy in particular. He included a sidebar article about the Mythic/Blacksnow “situation.”

Now he’s writing a book on MMORPGers, their willingness to fuel real-world sales of vitual items and the folks that peddle those items to turn a profit.

He’s been keeping up with the Blacksnow folks, as of late, as they’ve evidently been mucking things up over in UO-land. Long story short, UO had a gold dupe, as most MMOs do from time to time. This dupe allowed one instance of UO to generate roughly five real-world bucks an hour. One fairly high-end machine can run twenty instances of UO at a time. Stack a bunch of those machines up and you can, potentially, make $45,000 a day.

Obviously, this sort of thing can toast a virtual economy rather quickly, which is why we fight a constant battle to keep things in check. To be perfectly honest, I’m torn between being professionally irritated by this sort of thing and being academically intrigued by the sheer madness of it all.

Mr. Dibbell, for his part, is evidently a bit of a fan of trying to make money from our digital worlds and was apparently somewhat unhappy to find out that my boss may hate him for it. He seems legitimately surprised by Mark’s position, which strikes me as odd, since he, himself, seems to not hold the big-time farmers in particularly high regard. Maybe it’s some odd matter of scale. Maybe it’s just a nice way to justify his side-business while still “supporting” the industry as a whole. Maybe it’s some form of eBay-envy. Who knows?

In any event, as with most good fights, this one’s not likely to end anytime soon, which means I keep my job for a little longer.


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