Mar 19, 2014

The Rise of Videogame Economies

Game economies have been around since the advent of MMO's like Ultima Online, which offered players a chance to buy, trade and sell real estate, items and equipment, yet over the years have evolved into a micro industry themselves. Titles like EVE actually employ their own currencies and exchanges, and the value is created by a system of scarcity and player demand. Prestigious items entail status or offer gameplay advantages (A tricky balancing act), and PBS Offbook's mini documentary goes into the pros and cons of such systems. Of all the ones I've seen, Valve definitely seems to be at the forefront of tinkering with player economies with successful examples including Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2, including their player generated content initiatives which are quite novel in the game industry.

While players of multi-player games are aware of their in-game economies, their growth and complexity would surprise many outside the world of gaming. With hundreds of millions of players around the world, MMOGs' in-game economies generate massive amounts of real dollars (i.e. MILLIONS), and real world economic theories can even be applied to these worlds. Many are now so big that game developers have hired real world economists to help them manage these complex systems. But with secondary economies, gold farming and other issues surfacing, are these systems in need of more attention, or even regulation?

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