MMOs have been popular since the internet was going mainstream but as they grow, the idea of an in-game economy itself grows with it. As a result, there are economists researching game economies along with the real-world economics. But, as MMOs continue to grow, what if you could get a job or withdraw your hard-earned gold, credits or dollars?
An MMO Real Cash Economy
Let’s take a step into the world of Virtual Reality MMOs with Real Cash Economies (MMORCE). These let the player both deposit and withdraw funds from their game character. We have seen Entropia Universe, Second Life and EVE Online do this but, will it be the future of all MMOs and gaming in general? Certainly not! We can’t have a World of Warcraft economy in all games (farming for gold), it would destroy the game economies.
Lately, I’ve been messing around on MMOs to get an idea of how the in-game economies work and I have to say, the economies of Second Life and Star Trek Online are different. First off, Second Life’s Linden Dollar is exchangeable for US Dollars at around 270 to 280 Lindens per USD while STO doesn’t offer the ability to withdraw.
MMORCE vs MMO
The largest difference is the ways to make the in-game currency. STO allows you to travel to another planet and defeat mobs and guarantees rewards, on the other hand, a game like Entropia Universe requires you to pay to leave a world, gas to travel and gun/ammo in order to hunt and to combat farming, does not guarantee the same reward for mobs killed. This model is costly but encourages you to try to find a way to earn the game’s currency to continue your adventures.
So far, I found the Linden Dollar impossible to actually earn in-game without actually depositing so I just explored a lot. That’s it, I might have made 1 Linden while playing a fishing game.
Entropia Universe was another one that I tried out and I honestly loved it. Except for my trading ventures such as my “HSTC-E” society that I made which cost more time to gather resources than to . play the actual game. I normally hunted with a standard rifle and maybe half a PED (Project Entropia Dollar) worth of ammo but when I ran out and started calculating my hunting gains, I lost more than I invested in ammo.
Jobs and payments in RCEs
There are many people that actually make a living off MMOs and some have even grown their businesses across multiple games as well. One great story I found awesome was a Second Life character named “Anshe Chung”, literally the Rockefeller of SL. She sold virtual real estate and eventually earned $2 million within 3 months (according to Wikipedia). She was so successful that she even started her own company and is on several games. Another man, Jon Neverdie Jacobs on Entropia sold his space station for over $600,000.
Entropia is actually my favourite example for these because it actually focuses on the real-cash economy. The entire system allows people to create jobs inside the game such as taxi, beauty and mercenary services in the game. Neverdie himself, now President of VR said that VR can create 3 million jobs.
Similar to PayPal and online payments, any P2P transactions in-game are pretty much transactions of real money which makes everyone think twice before making a decision that could lose a lot of money.
So, if some MMOs started using RCEs, should other game genres do it too? That might be quite interesting but we must consider the steps and gameplay affected by the changes made to combat farming.
Please tell me your thoughts below and if you are interested in Entropia Universe, click here. If you are already a player, join our society. Just go to the society terminal and type: “H-S Trading”.
More about Real Cash Economies
You can check out our interview with MindArk about RCEs here.