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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

IBM Tries Middleware For MMO Economies 20

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

    by StingRay02 ( 640085 ) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:36AM (#8361832)
    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 keepers, you'd have a real time system in place for buying and selling from other players, using the game's money (be it gold, gil, credits, whatever). That way, time you invest in the game (thus time you pay for by way of the monthly fee) doesn't entirely go to waste. That twelve bucks a month, if used properly, can get you exclusive stuff, and while this is more of a hardcore player option, the people that really get into MMORPGs are weighted to the hardcore side anyway.

    All in all, not a terrible idea, provided there's not some kind of real money fee attached to its use.

  • 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.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan