April 20, 2005

Sony Slides to the Bottom of the Slippery Slope

Last October in my KidTrade paper, I asserted that eBay virtual goods markets are the direct result of design choices that have important (and potentially harmful) side-effects. Not all virtual economies need follow the same path. But some companies continue on boldly… In part, I wrote:

From Twinking to EBay:
The MMOG Virtual Economy Design “Slippery Slope”

  1. Gifting → Twinking
  2. Gifting + Multiple Chars/Server →  Muling
  3. Gifting + Messaging + Trust →  Trading
  4. Trading – Messaging – Trust + In World Machinery →  Robust Trading
  5. Robust Trading + Scarcity + Liquidity →  External Market (eBay)
  6. External Market – Trust + In World Machinery →  GOM

It seems that Sony has embraced this inevitability and has announced that Everquest II will take the final step on the slippery slope and create an online market for users to exchange real-world money ($$$) with virtual goods, within the game.

I guess that’s one way to handle an economic design that leads to farming – rather than fix it, ‘legitimize’ it. :-P Honestly, a system that has a market like this should be designed from the ground-up to mitigate abuse and manage production rates. This feels so much like:


I can’t wait to see the TOS for using that market – this is a very risky play.

[Discussion pointer: TerraNova]

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