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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

IBM Tries Middleware For MMO Economies 20

Posted by simoniker
from the virtual-world-domination dept.
Thanks to Wired News for its article discussing IBM's new Business Integration for Games (BIG) middleware for online gaming, technology which "lets game publishers install billing software to keep track of transactions in their online worlds", and IBM claim might "make it easier for the publishers to charge players to gain access to new content or new areas to explore -- something that currently has to be done with expansion packs and incremental product releases." According to the IBM project manager, the BIG project could "allow users to unlock new weapons or powers by paying for them within the context of the game", and it's also suggested that the tech, though just a sophisticated in-game billing system, might mean "hard-core fans could develop their own content, insert it into the game and make money from other fans."
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IBM Tries Middleware For MMO Economies

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:28AM (#8361441)
    BigBadMonster is DEAD!

    You gain 150000000 experience points.

    $15 has been billed to your account.
  • by *weasel (174362) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:44AM (#8361510)
    IBM's last foray into MMO middle-ware: the Butterfly Grid [butterfly.net].

    Not to cast dispersions on the companies listed as developing games for the grid - but this is not a list of clients looking for middleware that's going to be worth IBM's focus.

    Though there could possibly be some fairly interesting games that develop around such a fan-content real-money economy in a massmog - I don't see many games going in that direction, let alone enough to necessitate middleware.
  • A pyramid scheme? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MMaestro (585010) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:50AM (#8361538)
    "hard-core fans could develop their own content, insert it into the game and make money from other fans."

    So hardcore fans makes and sell content to non-hardcore fans, while the developing team makes and sells more content to the hardcore fans, while the producers makes and sells bandwidth and servers to the developing team?

    Unless they charge a low price for this type of game, it won't have mass appeal. (Pay a front-end fee, a subscription fee, AND a fee for extra content? Uh, not exactly budget minded.)

    • Re:A pyramid scheme? (Score:3, Informative)

      by StingRay02 (640085)
      There's a game out already that does this sort of thing, only I believe the technology is all built by the developer, no third party economic software. It's called Second Life, and people create content and can then sell it for game money, although last I looked into it, they're actually implementing a system that will translate game money in real money, if you choose.

      I can see EverQuest, or FFXI making use of something like this. Instead of just trading items, or dealing constantly with NPC shop keeper

    • Re:A pyramid scheme? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by *weasel (174362) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:42AM (#8361877)
      The Sims Online had that essential scheme in their design doc - though i don't know how the player-content wound up (it wasn't there at release, and i wasn't there after beta).

      Second Life also operates on a similar concept.

      Both are certainly more 'niche' than the big games (EQ, UO, AO, DAoC, etc) - but there is a dedicated playerbase who are willing to pay the going rate (~$13/mo) for such gameplay.

      The only difference is that IBM is proposing that their middleware facilitate such transactions for actual money and not in-game currency.

      The gameplay is fairly proven, though the low frequency of games that embrace this model, and the (comparatively) low financial success they have certainly casts doubt on the feasibility of a middleware solution.

      Keep in mind, IBM also wants to facilitate the secure trade of goods for actual money between players in other games as well (Eg. the transfer of accounts, sale of a found item, etc). But the publishers of those games certainly have the expertise and equipment necessary for such sales - and yet they are all quite resistant to 'legalize' inter-player transactions for real currency.

      (common mud-wisdom shows legalizing interplayer transactions draws in corporate interests whose agents would push out the average player in their attempts to harvest and control market value of items and characters.)
    • Re:A pyramid scheme? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MisterJones (751585)
      You're thinking people won't buy into this? Already they're paying for the CD to install the game, a monthly fee to play it, plus shelling out extra bucks for expansion packs...

      There is a guy I work with who has two dark age of camelot accounts that he plays side-by-side so that he can team up with himself. I asked if he thought that was spending too much money, but he said that it didn't matter to him, he has plenty of disposable income and an extra monthly subscription fee wasn't too much to pay for,

    • So hardcore fans makes and sell content to non-hardcore fans, while the developing team makes and sells more content to the hardcore fans, while the producers makes and sells bandwidth and servers to the developing team?

      That's not a pyramid scheme; it's a trickle-down economy.

      Ack! Republicans in the game industry!
  • by Critter92 (522977) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:50AM (#8361939)
    Second Life [secondlife.com] already has a vibrant economy driven by user-created content and some users are choosing to convert their in-world earnings back in US$ via Gaming Open Market [gamingopenmarket.com]. Terra Nova [blogs.com] has extensive discussions of the strength of the SL economy, as well as some of the problems that can arise from using real-world currency in virtual worlds -- including resident alienation, loss of suspension of disbelief, and interesting legal implications. It is also somewhat specious to suggest that pulling real-world currency into a virtual world somehow enables user-created content. The billing system, whether in US$ or SL's L$, was certainly a complicated component of the overall product, but it was dwarfed by the complexities of 3D streaming, collaborative creation, and distributed physical simulation.
  • Try free software, otherwise, don't count me in.
    Yes, I'm cheap, specially if we're talking about buying virtual things... when I can get much more for free with my imagination. At this rate, I will have to end up with schizophrenia paranoia.

  • BAH! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Metal_Demon (694989)
    lets game publishers install billing software to keep track of transactions in their online worlds

    Sounds to me like they are upset that everybody else is making all the money from selling in game items.

    make it easier for the publishers to charge players to gain access to new content or new areas to explore...allow users to unlock new weapons or powers by paying for them within the context of the game

    NamedMob has dropped ph4t l3wt, buy for $1.00? Thats what it sounds like to me...AKA highway robbery!

    hard

  • by darkmayo (251580) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:00PM (#8362524)
    Doubtful.. alot of companies have tried various forms of in game economies based on items and crafts and what not.

    Now I can only comment on the MMORPGs that I have played to put this into context. I'll take EQ and DAOC as two examples .. EQ being the bad economy, Daoc being the better.

    EQ's economy was the first one I was exposed to, started in beta 3 and played until before the Luclin expansion. It was all about the item drops and not really about the crafted items. (I have heard that has changed) if you found a craft you could make money at it was nerfed, platnium worthless on most servers and only on a few you could use it to buy equipment from other users.
    The number of rare items and armor unfortunately never really diminished much causing those once rare items to be common place. Look at an FBSS (Flowing Black Silk Sash) for example, a once sought after item is now a few plat or a couple of trades of lower level items. As well the amount of gear and items that just make the FBSS a joke.

    DAOC imo had a better economy than EQ, cash was definately useful for a long time, more focus was on crafted items and defense of the realms (which cost alot of money to upgrade and maintain keeps and such, as well people weren't sitting on massive fortunes with nothing to spend it on. As well items and armor degrade and break, not to mention the subsquent additions of alchemy and spellcrafting which also raise the bar of things to spend your hard earned gold on.

    played a few other ones, Shadowbane/SWG for example and both of these had some serious economy problems (shadowbane had massive duping bugs causing massive inflation, and SWG has problems with tons of shitty items and no one wanting to buy them.)

    anyways anything that will help more MMO's get a better economy i'll be all for it.
    • Just FYI, the FBSS (flowing black silk sash) still sells right around 2500 platinum pieces on my server - same as it did years ago. It is basically in/deflation-immune. There are no crafted haste items (to my knowledge - perhaps there is some really out there one) but the supply of haste items is still small. And this is on an older server (Terris Thule, which was around in June 2000 when I started playing).

      For the non-Everquesters: 2500 platinum coins is nothing to sneeze at. A very wealthy monster ma
  • Or maybe not. Most people completely lack any sort of creative ability. Some of them realise this, and are excellent at combining old ideas to create something new. Some of them are just plagiarists who wish to be fed pulp and be told it's art. Gamers and anime fans seem to be particularly susceptible to this. Take a look at somewhere like garagegames, and you'll see 90% of the supposedly original ideas and concepts are simply tired rehashes

    This, in itself, is not a problem. After all, this is why they a

  • Now maybe I'll be ableto do somethings and pay less rather than buy the whole expansion and only ever get to use 1/8th of it. Oh wait, the game companies would just raise prices.

    You are about to become level 2, do you accept the $9.99 charge for doing so? (Yes/No)

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