A report just out from the fine folks at Playnomics confirms that much of the money spent in digital economies is spent by a fairly small share of the players. Vegas calls them "whales." Playnomics says that fewer than 1 percent of players spend any money at all in games, on average. Most of us free ride on the top 1% of spenders who contribute a third of the money.
I still like the game Lord of the Rings Online. It's free to play. When I look around in there, I see a very cool version of Middle Earth. It is interesting to know that one-third of everything I see there has been built because of the support of just one person out of 100 that I meet. And, if the power law holds throughout, I can fairly say that just about everything in that place exists because of the ten percent or so who love it enough to pay for it.
Here's the rub, the political economy problem. Given the above, what rights do I have as a player to express opinions about the environment? Suppose the entire thing is run for the benefit of those 10 percent. Does my voice count? Should it?