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abstractimmersion

Real Money in MMORPGs

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I haven't really thought a lot about this, but I thought I'd throw it out there just to see what people thought. When people play an MMORPG, no one wants to actually play (much less RP) the fishmonger. What if in-game currency was tied to real money, allowing a player to "cash out?" Hundreds of kinks to work out, yes, but I think it might actually generate a robust commodity/craft economy. Players owning patches of land for farming, newbies selling apples on the streets, PvP mercenary security... At the very least, food would have to be necessary and items would have to decay/take damage. Of course, a sword made by an master smith would also have high durability. Anyway, riff on that for a while.

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It would also be a quick and easy way to launder money, and would quickly get you a visit from folks who care about such things.

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I would say there are two things here to consider...

Real to virtual
I find this to be a "gameplay bad" feature but likely to be "player good" as soon as the prices are kept low. By sure means, this feature is becoming interesting. I read on Game Developer Magazine some games already do this so it's really "business good".
I believe there's no real problem (legally wise) for this since it can build on "ordinary" pay services.

Virtual to real
This could be "player good" in an unrealistic scenario in which currency is valued extremely high. It's possibly "gameplay good" but definetly "business bad". Impossible.

I spoke about this with a friend some months ago.
Our idea was of a very complicated system to 1) squeeze processors and 2) avoid excessive powerplaying.
To sustain our economic system, we ideated money and sellers could be done by "real" people but how?
I've believe I've found a way. What we need is to give good reasons to players to do boring things. We ideated some kind of guild system (actually 4+2 guilds) but it was obvious that it would have not cut it.
We need to exchange "gameplay good", "player bad" habits for a real resource, something so cheap we can give it away, but what?
I suddendly was enlighted. See the bigger picture... well, our idealistic MMORPG would have run on a server right? It would have run 24/7 right? And sure as hell it would suck tons of bandwidth... Do you see something that really interests people and you have to get anyway if you need MMORPG servers?

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A Game like that, is like a pyrimid scheme
the first person to join reaps the benefit of everyone to join afterwards

New player comes, puts $50 into the system takes out $5 by the end
experienced player puts in $5 and takes out $50
eventually the new player will become experienced,
and just do the same to new players

if a million is put into the ecomomy, 250k for running cost/profit
means there is only 750k possible to get back,
and its usually the new players that are the ones footing that bill
I doubt the odds are even that good, for getting money back out of the ecomomy

Really I think its better to just let the players, buy and sell things for real money, while trying to avoid any legal responisbility if the server crashed and wiped all the items.

If you want a example of a rl ecomomy + game ecomomny mixing, go try Project Entropia(s/p)

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Why do people always want to add such activities to MMORPG type games? Who wants to sit for hours on end at a apple vendor stand and hastle the players who are running off to raid an orc camp about buying apples all day? And then what do you give the player for selling these?

You would have to have them sell like 1000 apples for a dollar, and then withhold payment until they have like $50 worth of sales. And even then, it's kind of pointless. Who is going to put 40 hours into making 50 bucks?

Hey, I pay 15 dollars a month so I can pretend to sell fake apples to people who are having fun, and every 3 months I get 50 dollars back. Can I list that on my resume as previous employment?

Why not just play online gambling?

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Although anything is possible, you really have to ask yourself -why- those projects work, and how they've achieved the balance. More importantly than why or how, is -if-. We have no way of knowing if the players -actually- like the game. There are alot of players who end up playing a game because they're waiting for something, be it a payout, new expansions, maybe just the community, etc etc.

When I look at Second Life, I see "Okay, that looks like a pretty fun game; basically mimics the real world...", but then here I'm wondering if they're waiting to get the cash bonus at the end. Sure it would be a fun game; it looks like The Sims, except alot bigger.

What do you want to achieve in your game? Do you want a good game? Or do you want to give your players another reason to play your game? Personally I don't think a real-money economy makes a game any better; it seems to be like it gives your players one more excuse to want to play your game.

If you can find some way to actually integrate real-money with the game economy and have it -actually matter-, then I will fully support your idea. But until you find a way to integrate them and make a better game, I don't see any reason to waste time putting it in your game. Sure it's good for business, but if you're slowly destroying the quality of games in the process, why?

If your game is good, the income you recieve should be enough to at least get you started. Of course I'm being pretty idealistic with that statement, but if you're releasing an MMO it better be worth selling.

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Well...that would be a HUGE security issue. You couldn't make any money off that because you'd be blowing it all on making sure people aren't hacking the system. Though it'd be a nice profit for hackers.

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