Posted by: mrrx | February 7, 2007

My perspective on SE Whitepaper

Gamasutra article on Station Exchange

What an interesting thing for Smedly to do……. release this paper to the general public and gauge reaction.

$274,000 in revenue.       Profit being…….. who knows how much.      The amount they’re making with this stuff is a drop in the bucket, and thus they’re willing to share the information.      Apparently, they achieved the stated goal with the service – from 40% of customer service calls, to 10%, involving stolen accounts and the grey market.

Revenue earned was steady and predictable, which we should all know, but they’re now proving to others who don’t quite grasp the whole thing, that revenue is in fact stable.     This helps prove the viability of games where the economy and RMT is the primary draw, namely things like Entropia and Second Life.

What’s a bit silly is the “average” price of platinum during the year.    Why should anyone care about that ?     The price today is around $2 – $2.50 per platinum piece.      The relevant fact here is that as time goes on, plat has slid disastrously in value against the dollar.     February 2006, plat was priced at an amazing $497.

While Station Exchange is far from perfect, I’m glad to see it being put out there, and for game companies to start trying to come to grips with the phenomenon.     RMT is here kids – you can’t stop it.     You’re all annoyed with it, but you’re not coming up with better solutions other than Sony’s version.     Other than bad solutions like “no economy” games and no-trade items.      Whining about how it “isn’t pure gameplay” is not productive and sounds ridiculous.

One thing Station Exchange DID NOT do – is make much of a dent in the grey market for RMT.     The Bazaar sees *no difference* with plat seller tells, spam emails, and nonsense like that, versus the regular servers.      Personally, I saw almost no farmer activity which caused me a problem.     And for this reason, I would very much support a Station-Exchange type service in other games.

The best part is the speculative, attention-grabber at the very end :

As SOE continues to develop new and innovative massively multiplayer online gaming experiences, the lessons learned from Station Exchange will be applied. Since the income generated from auctions is predictable, and can be controlled, it may offer new ways to monetize game play. It is already clear that the possibility exists of creating an MMO in which the virtual economy is a core component. This would not work for all game types. But in the cases where it does work, would provide a powerful way to keep subscribers glued to the game.

This is something I’d like to see.    A game where the virtual economy is the primary draw, with some kind of secondary gameplay like adventuring and crafting.     Where in-game wealth is possible if you invest enough time, or have enough skill.     That would be pretty interesting indeed.

 

Imagine being a pioneer.     You start out in a spaceport, with your basic supplies, and have to go out into the world and start making money.     You start by cutting down trees on the virgin planet, selling the commodity to lumber yards, and people make homes and furniture with it.   

 

As time goes by, wood falls out of favor due to the changing technological economy; now the spaceport is big enough for imports, and mining has started.   You the tree-cutter have to do something different.     You either find another raw, barely settled area to lumberjack in; or you get into specialty harvesting, such as particular types of wood.    You could probably do this with a number of themes – Space theme; medieval/fantasy world; the New World aka settlement of the Americas.

 

The challenge being, you think the grey market is bad in typical MMO’s ?   How do you deal with it in this hypothetical game ?     The intelligent answer might include Station Exchange.

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Responses

  1. Your post made me remember something a friend of mine had brought up a few weeks ago..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropia_Universe

    For information about the MMO and how much real money they made off of their virtual universe, as well as stories about people who sold off their land or resources for huge amounts of cash.

    http://www.entropiauniverse.com

    For a link to the actual MMO.

  2. Yeah I looked into Entropia and read quite a bit about it. I never played because my ultimate conclusion was making some money in it would be boring and a grant a tiny return.

    Playing the game for fun, is apparently an exercise in how much money you are willing to deposit. No thanks.


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