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Sony has released data about the first year of Station Exchange, its experiment in sanctioned RMT among players. First report by Dan Terdiman here; Raph Koster's analysis here; full press release here.
ecastronova on Feb 08, 2007 in Economics | Permalink
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I suppose the question is:
Does it make sense to legitimize something which is contrary to the game?
If the game is about wandering around, killing creatures, crafting items and generally playing, does it then make sense to legitimize transfers of those assets in a manner which brings outside resources to bear?
Obviously enough people play on the two exchange servers to show that a certain percentage of players will engage in such (extremely) meta-trading . . . but with EQII running as many US servers as it does, it would seem that the percentage of people willing to make the leap and "consent" to such rules is minimal.
In fact, with all the "backlash" they recieved (on their forums for example) one could aregue that they may potentially have caused some customers to take their business elsewhere.
THAT is something we're never going to see a whitepaper for. More's the pity. :)
Mathew Reuther |
Feb 08, 2007 at 18:44
I have to dissagree with you stance on this. I dont think this is contrary to the game at all. The most valuable thing in the world any of us have is time. Each and everyone of us is here for a finite amount of time, which is why it is so valuable.
With that said, in anything you do, you are going to make an evaluation on whether or not it is worth your time to engage in any given activity. In the case of MMPOG's, they are fun, but they also inheriently require allot of time to get the maximum amount of pleasure/entertainment value out of it.
This fact alone lends it self to making it comon sense that RMT is going to be arround no matter what goes on. The brilliance here is that SOE has figured out a way to legitmently get a cut of the RMT wallet.
Back when I was gold farming UO, someof the biggest complainers of RMT were pretty good customers.
You also should keep in mind that this goes beyond single players, try running a very larg guild and keeping everyone well equiped.
What developers need to do is find ways to embrace RMT, reduce fraud, control transactions, and get a piece of the pie.
I am VERY happy to see this data, it comfirms and validates that data I have collected. And it also shows a willingness of SOE to share with the rest of the community rather than keeping it in house.
Who owns Playerauctions.com now?
Rich Thurman |
Feb 08, 2007 at 20:49
I believe a large percentage of players who publicly denounce RMT are simply motivated to reserve it as a private practice for themselves. As I mentioned a year or two back, players want to participate in RMT *and* they don't want anyone else to do it. This explains, at least for me, the fact there was no difference between SE servers and non-SE servers. Non-SE servers are the more exclusive market for the sellers because buyers have the added prestige of not having "obviously" purchased their gear.
Feb 08, 2007 at 21:44
Are the datasets available? I cannot find them anywhere and the whitepaper contains only summary data.
Feb 08, 2007 at 21:51
When was the last time any of you paid 1500 Huxgwub Xylfarguts for 10,000 USD?
Mathew Reuther |
Feb 09, 2007 at 05:00
@Mithra: I'm sure there are anti-RMT hypocrites out there, but I think it is misguided to assume that because the two servers are about the same that RMT was occurring at similar rates. That would mean something if RMT gave you equal access to high-level gear and abilities. I'm not sure how EQ2 plays, but an example where that would not be the case is WoW. All the best equipment is raid gear that is bind on pickup - i.e. no one can sell it to you and the only way to get it is if you earn it through time raiding with a guild. Same thing with attaining the now defunct Grand Marshal pvp title: it was an extensive time investment. The hardcore player that decries RMT is mainly worried about how it bridges the gap between the hardcore and casual players by replacing time as a resource. If you already have time in abundance, why waste your money to buy time?
This all relies on the assumption that RL money cannot buy the best gear and large amounts of time must be invested to be at the top. I think Blizzard made a conscious decision in designing the game like this. If EQ2 allows top equipment to be accessible via RMT, then the dynamic changes. But then, if you can buy a max-level character and the best equipment - what do you do then? PvP?
J L Borghead |
Feb 09, 2007 at 07:36
Ok. Lets break down whats going on in a game. Its essentially, a contest of sorts between people and/or groups of people, thats premised directly on an idea of work and merit. Talented pvper/miner/crafter/pver/whatever? Put some work into it? You'll advance. Its not different to, say, football or cricket or whatever. *Gamers* like to think of these things as nerd sports or whatever.
The problem is, conceptually, its polar oposite is RMT's. If *I've* spent a year grinding up 'leet skills, choice loot and whatever over a year of hard work, then damned if I'm going to be happy that player starts playing, rips out the credit card, buys a top level character, some top loot, and kicks my ass based on his willingness to turn credit card into power.
*I* worked for it, and *he* paid for it. Thats not what most gamers about, and its important to recognise that gamers still, fortunately imho, still possess a working ethic about all this.
Ultimately, the problem is, and the reason I see the SLs and *especially* the Project Entropias of the world failing, is theres no incentive to play the damn thing, except for money. And man, how are you supposed to enjoy the damn game, when its your day job.
I play games, because my day life shits me. Its never going to be fully satisfying, because its not the 'real thing', but at least its not work. Its not 'serious business'.
Feb 09, 2007 at 07:51
dmx said: "*I* worked for it, and *he* paid for it. "
'Worked' is an interesting word. Does asking guild members to help you level remove you from this working man class? There are lots of shortcuts to leveling and getting uber loot and spells. Are you saying that someone who finds the most efficient way of skilling is less noble than someone that gets there one rat at a time?
Additionally, I 'work' 60 hours per week. So, if I buy my toon, I most certainly 'worked' for it.
Feb 09, 2007 at 08:18
One thing that hit me was that the graphs of age distribution for sellers and buyers was not normalised for general user age distribution but displayed only in terms of brutto income generated.
The graphs themselves are used to support the widespread theory that younger gamers have more time and sell to the older gamers who have more money.
They said the average user was 25 so I played around with some numbers I dreamed up for a likely age distribution and normalised the graphs with that. While the same trend was still visible it was considerably less exaggerated.
If anyone has access to real age distribution numbers for SOE customers or Station Exchange customers, the graphs could be normalised and more realistic deductions made.
If you have them or know where they can be found, please contact me.
Feb 09, 2007 at 12:43
@dave : well, sure, dave, afterall a better shortcut may be to befriend a GM , to buy her/him a lunch and bingo ! Yes you worked hard for that money. And what have that to do with the game ?!
It's exactely what makes the games die. And dont foolish yourself : the MMOs /VWs rely on gamers , not on misleaded " businessmen ". In any VW you need gamers willing to pay for fun. Entropia fails because it is corrupt. SL wont fail, because LL are heading the " game " to the state of a " platform ". When LL gonna be there , it ceases to be interesting for gamers , and it becomes a site dedicated for a very small niche.
Feb 10, 2007 at 14:48
A rich guys niche i hope :-)
Feb 10, 2007 at 14:50
The person who whipped out the credit card to buy the toon probably will also play it less than average for that level. While the logic isn't air tight, it goes to figure that if they have less time to level the toon they'll also have less time to use it.
1) Basicly if 1 out of 10 top level toons is bought second hand, it very well might be 1 of 20 on at any time.
2) If someone doesn't level the character, in all likelyhood they won't be able to play it nearly as well. Game algorithms and dynamics are critical, the more complex the interface , the less botting and the more user reaction is needed the more that will be true... but even playing a relatively easy interface, a skilled player will probably still beat a player with 40 hours of play (let alone 10 or 5) even giving up quite a bit of equipment.
So, seems to me, if you like to play a lot, it behooves you to have more people play the games. It alows more designers etc.
How though does a third party market help? It creates more interest in the game, by creating finacial incenties for farmers, and by providing a back door in for folks with more money than time to join friends by righting a check, the game attacks more players.
The third party money also provides advertising reveues for folks who provide 3rd party informational or ad on web sites... that ads quite a bit to the feedback loop...maybe it just pays for the minor cost of thier guild forums but the sites and discussions off the game creators computer really help.
I could ad more on how, in trying to prevent RMT, that designers would likely ruin parts of the internal market mechanisms between people who do not buy or sell gold. The fungibilty and trade to obtain needs allows people to socialize, focus on the things they like best or fits their windows of play time available. I cant raid, but I can sign on for 20 minutes to mine some or many times ot the day.
By being part of a "imaginary" supply line I can get items that other people grind by hurry up and wait stuff on raids.
The joy of most of these games is in the build of your toon, the relative bragging rights of getting certain items is usually a very hollow victory...the process is better than the destination.
as it is in life. If selling a toon cheats anyone , it is the buyer...but the buyer is a differnt breed. They might be collector types, who, just want to say they own a toon the same way they own a valuable beenie baby or a rare snuff box.
Feb 10, 2007 at 20:22
"In fact, with all the "backlash" they recieved (on their forums for example) one could aregue that they may potentially have caused some customers to take their business elsewhere."
Actually, in a fit of righteous indignation, my family cancelled our 3 SOE accounts immediately upon announcement of Sony Exchange. They are still cancelled.
Feb 15, 2007 at 06:42
I feel like the longer the debate about RMT goes on, the more it becomes clear to me that it's only even possible to try to debate this seriously if one narrows one's focus to the combat, grinding, leveling, loot gathering types of games. It's easy to think of those as "almost the whole world of online gaming", but they're not. Much as I love them, obsess over them, and have worked on making them, I know that they're a niche. A novel, nerdy, niche.
Here's the reality. I've seen these games work their way up over the last twenty years from thousands of players into the millions - over ten million now I'm sure if you count China (and why wouldn't you?)
Last year the internet reached one BILLION users. The earth has over six billion humans. Ten million gamers concerned about whether you can sell magic swords or not is a small minority.
A powerful economic force exists among those six billion humans. Different people value different things differently. So they can buy and sell in ways that create "win/win" scenarios, where both people walk away with something they wanted more than what they gave up. Amongst us rich first world nation residents, that causes Ebay to occur. But the disparity between our wealth/time tradeoff and that of people in poorer countries is staggering, and leads to millions of chinese making inexpensive products we buy in Walmart for a tiny fraction of our annual income. Because of this disparity, you could get four foot long stuffed tigers from China in any Walgreens for just 20 bucks. This makes me happy. (I remember how much big stuffed tigers cost in the 1980s!)
Physical trade though, is slowed by barriers of distance and the costs of transportation. Someone in Kenya who might LOVE to mow your lawn for a dollar probably isn't going to get that opportunity. However, for the billion or so people on the internet, if they can cash in on the time/money valuation disparity by performing a SERVICE for you rather than shipping you physical goods...
Well, suffice it to say that there's a tsunami-level pressure of desire to do that built up out there. It'd make the rush of water you'd get from blowing up the Hoover Dam look feeble. But we don't have a Hoover Dam trying to hold it back, we have a few game companies with a handful of staff dedicated to banning gold farmers/sellers when they spot one.
RMT is a done deal. The extent to which it does or doesn't overflow from the other 980 million people and their internet activities into the lives of 20 million gamers is a DETAIL, not the main issue here.
Even amongst gamers, not everyone is playing in the Warcraft, EQ, UO, Lineage genre. There's countless soccer moms playing casual card and puzzle games. Half the people in Korea have tried Kart Racer at least once, and it's kept company in the top three by a tennis game. Innovative glimpses of what might or might not be The Future Of Gaming As We Know it pop up in places like A Tale in the Desert, or Habbo Hotel. And no, making money is NOT the only attraction that user created content places like Second Life or Furcadia have to offer. MySpace and YouTube are user created content, and they bestride the current internet landscape like colossi. Meanwhile ALL the young kids spend huge amounts of time text-messaging each other through AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo, or their cell phones. They group voice chat, they webcam, they communicate promiscuously. The seeds of the Next Big Thing are evident, and whether or not you can pay dollars or yen for a magic sword there or have to spend 100 hours killing imaginary monsters to get it is really not even an issue in figuring out what the online worlds of the future will be like. It's a distraction.
Here's what gets MY panties in a knot this week, just thinking about it (and I don't even wear any!) 2007 is the year the One Laptop Per Child project hits the world. The floods of the "lots of time, little money" part of the world hitting the internet will be staggering, and many of them would love to do SOME kind of work for us rich folks who make tens of thousands of dollars a year (gasp) or even more. One Laptop Per Child is so big that in 2007 alone, it's expected to boost the worldwide laptop market by 10% (units, not dollars, I assume). The President of Rwanda, who's committed to trying to make their country into an information economy by 2020, has comitted to getting one million of the machines this year, as have several other countries. First year shipments are expected to reach five to ten million, and contribute a windfall of at least $1.5 billion dollars to Taiwain's electronics industry. These machines cost only around $130, and there's a lot of money donated already to get huge amounts of them going to poor countries. They have some very neat software built in, the project having been overseen the last few years by founder Nicholas Negorponte (of MIT Media Lab fame), and the machines have touchpads, webcams, and the very latest wireless networking built in. They automatically form an ad hoc mesh network with any other OLPCs in range, and their range is over a kilometer!
Some of the people working on the project envision the networking being used mainly to chat and share files and collaborate with other students, and to access books, information, and resources stored on the school's server machine. But Negroponte envisions that with just 6000 volunteer networking nerds going out into the field over the next year, a majority of the school and village hubs can be hooked up to the internet.
Look out, folks, the third world is coming onto our Internet over the next decade. Best get ready to provide them a warm welcome! This is the type of topic that I think needs its own discussion thread here on Terra Nova.
What kinds of games will the OLPC users want to play, what kind of online worlds will they want to inhabit? Only guess I have so far is some crazy game where "success" and "progress" are measured in terms of how much you've done to make the real world a better place.
Should be a lot of fun to make THAT game.
Dr. Cat |
Feb 19, 2007 at 21:52
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