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A Case Study of RMTs In EVE Online 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-post-a-comment-please-deposit-eight-cents dept.
Kheldon writes with an article at MMO Gamer which explores how well real money transactions work in online games, using EVE Online as a test case. Quoting: "... My next problem came from trying to sell the [Game Time cards] through the 'Time Code Bazaar' on the forums. While I quickly found buyers, none of them actually went through with the deal. This is the inherent problem with developer sanctioned RMT. Unless true, unfettered, player-to-player transactions are allowed without developer 'regulation,' the market will inevitably be operating inefficiently. Consider gold-farmers for a moment. Setting aside the moral or legal aspects of the trade, and considering from a purely economic standpoint, gold-farmers are the RMT equivalent of large corporations. They operate on the concept of 'economies-of-scale,' which basically means that up to a certain point, the larger a company is, the cheaper they can produce that product. Of course, companies that can produce a product more cheaply can undercut the competition while maintaining the same profit margin; meaning they'll make more sales, giving them more overall profit, and supporting the corporate growth, which furthers the economy of scale. This is the market at its most pure."
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A Case Study of RMTs In EVE Online

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  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jedi Alec (258881) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @03:55AM (#28262927)

    You're quite correct - generating free cash and injecting it into the economy causes a trickledown and inflates prices across the game. But at the same time, since EVE does have a lot of destruction in it's game, that's not as critical as it sounds - the more expensive fits people fly, the more isk is destroyed when it explodes, and the edge advantage granted by pimp fitting a ship is not particularly extreme - you can maybe take on 2-3 people of your sizeclass, but against any more you're still going to die.

    Come on guys, how hard is this concept to grasp? When a ship blows up, not a single isk leaves the economy...the only things getting blown up are assets. The isk sits safely in the wallet of whoever sold that pimp gear to the pilot getting blown up. If you crash your car on the highway the money you paid for it doesn't magically disappear from the dealer's bank account either, does it?

    RMT does not generate isk. Blowing stuff up does not destroy isk. In fact, blowing stuff actually injects a small amount of isk into the economy because of the insurance payout on the ship(note for non-players, insurance is a game mechanic where an ingame organization gives you some cash back when you lose your ship, as opposed to ingame money moving around between actual players).

  • by piggydoggy (804252) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @04:43AM (#28263153)
    Sometimes the real life busts in and makes us painfully aware that some people have more, much more disposable income than others.

    EVE Online's RMT system is by and large a brilliant idea. People who are so inclined, can buy virtual wealth for real world money, and people who are good at the game can play for free. The developers benefit either case. The vastness of EVE's playerbase however means it includes some individuals who are far, far ahead of the average on the income curve.

    In the latest "Great War of EVE", a small Russian alliance RED.Overlord (ROL), with connections to virtual money farming industry, grew hostile with their neighbors, the largest player alliance Goonswarm. A certain VERY well off member of ROL then bought at least 500 billion ingame ISK (~$10k+ worth) from the black market to buy its alliancemates five Titan class capital ships (strategic weapons in EVE which take a lot of effort and 2 months of real time to build). CCP got a whiff of the transaction and banned all the titan pilots and their associates.

    Unfettered, ROL's "mysterious benefactor" turned to legal means, and publicly sold 1000 real-money-bought timecards to fund its ingame war effort - a cool $27,000 worth. That is an undeniable fact, with sale threads still visible on EVE's official forums.

    A harder to prove, but with the above in mind not the least unlikely, were his solid real-money-bribes to the leaders of other EVE alliances for help in the war. It's rumored that Evil Thug, the leader of a powerful Against All Authorities alliance, received a cool $30,000 bribe to turn his ingame organization against their former friends at Goonswarm, and there are more reliable information that certain leaders of other neighboring alliances received solid five-figure dollar bribes to either turn coat, or at the minimum stay neutral, in this purely ingame conflict. Perhaps interestingly, not many agreed.

    Real life bribes don't as such have a lot to do with ingame RMT, but that's because the effect of ingame currency only goes so far, and rallying real people one way or the other is the true means to win.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:43AM (#28263431) Homepage

    I could spout off comments that boil down to accusations of "denial" but that's just too easy and simple. Instead, I will attack your logic of statement.

    The bad analogy statement is "Humans get AIDS." But I am human, and I don't have AIDS, therefore AIDS is not a human problem, but only the problem of those who have it. Yes, I see there are logical problems with my bad analogy, but I think you can see the point.

    You are taking a generalization that I have made "personally" and stating that because it may not be personally true for you that it is not generally true. That's just stupid.

    The point has been made that MMORPGs create their own economies which affect the real world. At this point it is no longer "just a game." The desires of people to build wealth and power is one common to "most" of humanity. (It is true because history bears this out. It does not matter if it does not apply to you individually.) MMORPGs supplement this human desire "virtually" if you will. (I may not be king of the world, but I am king of the nerds! Sound familiar?) When you break down the psychology of the activity, it really starts to bring to light many facets of human society that generally go unnoticed or taken for granted.

    As I said before. I play games. But I am reluctant to play games that I cannot play by myself. Many of the more ugly aspects of people come to light too quickly. In gaming, I appreciate "fairness and balance" as do many others. (Let's call those who appreciate fairness and balance "Type A") Some people, however, prefer to cheat and take advantage of others for their own gain... gain which is usually a thrill, a position in some arbitrary hierarchy system or ladder or a reputation or some other such thing. (Let's call these people "Type B") Some people truly live for that sort of thing. While those of Type B exist (and they will ALWAYS exist as it is a part of the human condition) Type A people will always fall victim to them in some way or another. In the case of MMORPGs, they try to police themselves, (as a player of EVE, I am sure you are aware of how some developers have been identified in some pretty dubious activities?) write software code to thwart cheats and exploits and on and on even resulting in high profile court cases and "DMCA" actions. This stuff has escalated WELL BEYOND the status of "just a game."

    They aren't just games any more than social networking sites are "just virtual" and have no impact on "real life." They are all parts of "real life" now. When interactive humanity seeps into a game, all the ugliness of humanity is packaged right along with it.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rakshasa Taisab (244699) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @08:51AM (#28264931) Homepage
    No... It's _EVEN_ better/worse/weird_as_hell than that. People who aren't very familiar with EVE always get shocked when they hear it the first time and putter on in denial for the longest time.

    Brace yourselves:

    When a ship gets destroyed in EVE, the amount of ISK in the gameworld _INCREASES_. It doesn't disappear, it doesn't stay balanced. That is to say; loss of ships is not an ISK sink, it's an ISK faucet.

    The reason for this is that the player you bought the ship from, or the players that did the mining for minerals, still got the ISK so it's still in the system. And the you, the player, just received a payout on the in-game insurance that covers all ships. This insurance (for T1 ships) gives you back almost as much ISK as it cost on the markets.
  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @12:55PM (#28268721)

    The problem with the "RMT Creates runaway inflation" argument is that it does not take into account several things:

    1) In the game, the economy is in a generally deflationary period which it has been in since game launch.

    2) RMT's have been around for well over a year and not only has the general deflationary cycle NOT stopped, it has sped up, with prices dropping rapidly. Observe the cost of T2 parts and ships and compare against before RMT. Generally speaking, T2 is cheaper now.

    3) Many many many many other factors drive the economic cycles in EvE, RMT is a vanishingly small one of them.

    The thing that the "RMT = inflation" people seem to forget is that there is NO NEW ISK being added to the economy when RMT's are used. The ISK is simply moved from one player's wallet to another within the game. So since no new ISK is added to the general supply, no inflation can occur.

    The argument, as made above, that RMT encourages people to just make piles of ISK is specious at best. Many Trader players play just simply for the joy of being "virtually" rich. That is, they make the ISK for the sake of making the ISK. RMT just allows them to play as they enjoy without having to pay out any of their own hard-earned real money to do it.

    On top of that there are people who make ISK to collect items with. I know of a couple players who run as traders simply so they can buy at least one of every item in the game.

    There are MANY others who run VERY profitable trader-alts to supply their primary fighter accounts. Many of these players do so well with the trader alts that they have ISK to burn.

    And that really is the crux of the problem for the "RMT = inflation" argument. The vast majority of really wealthy players who buy RMT's WOULD HAVE MADE THE ISK ANYWAY. The RMT's are just another avenue to burn the ISK pile they have amassed. An avenue that helps along players that are not good at making ISK but have the real money to use on the game.

    So no, RMT's have not and CANNOT cause in-game inflation. To try and argue they do is to show a complete lack of economics, the state of the eve economy, and general human behavior.

    Now, Who wants to buy my PLEX?

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