Gaming Massively

Monday, September 8, 2008

game economics

Alexis Kassan has an article up over at massively detailing a theoretical economic model for an MMO. I have more than a passing interest in the economics of gaming, so I gave it a good long read. It proposes basically a game where there is no crafting, and where resources are fixed in game - no sudden influx of thorium to throw the game into an inflationary tailspin. It's a little odd to me how the proposal is phrased, seeming to indicate that the economy would only encompass players - it would seem better to set economic processes in place so that the NPCs are also participating, but in a totally rational way, so at least they wouldn't contribute to the crazy if some weird financial disease were to afflict the player base (gold sellers, e.g.).

I much preferred the way PotBS tried to do things (have chars construct all in-game items) - I was, however, sad that they seemed to not have NPCs participating in the economy, as I think that's the only way to prevent the character levelling from screwing up your economy. I've a sneaky suspicion that Eve Online is now mature enough that they can get away with a true player run economy, and I think the practices they perfect may become the ideal by which all others are measured. But, not having played, that's just speculation.

Given the epic fail happening in the (real) world economy right now, it's pretty clear that economics is tough. But games have it somewhat easier - their oversight can be 100% effective. But I think economics may be something only mature games (or games with a whole lot of time and money for prep) should do big. It's not tough - you don't even need a working graphics engine to do the economics, as long as you're planning well enough. But planning seems very often to be a big challenge, and if you don't plan it right, well, you have to bail out your virtual Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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