This is a follow-up post to the Money and banking in online games article from yesterday:
After heavy traffic and mixed feelings from Digg, I’d just like to summarize what the main benefits and detriments of having a banking system in a game are, as well as emphasize certain points that were lost on many people.
First: These ideas have little to do with World of Warcraft
These ideas (or rather, these suggestions) were not meant to be retrofitted into any of the games that are out there right now. They’re meant to be addressed by game designers for future games, and it looks like some game designers have already considered something like this to a degree.
Personally, while writing the article I had imagined what the effects on the economy of my EverQuest II server would be, as that is the community with which I’m most familiar. I’ve come to the conclusion that putting a system such as this into a game which has been thriving for any amount of time is completely unfair and pointless. These ideas are for new games only.
For anyone who would like to see what something like this banking system looks like in action, please consider the following games which have been suggested to me:
Entropia Universe, which looks interesting, although the emphasis seems to be on transferring money between the real- and online worlds.
Carnageblender 2: I can’t vouch for personally as I’ve never played it. It was suggested that many of the implements discussed in the article are currently in place in this game.
EVE: Online, a very general sci-fi rpg in which a large-scale banking system run by players was attempted and eventually robbed.
The Universal: This game reportedly has a system of banks whose interest rates depend on the owner of the planet. I’ve never played it, though.
I’ve personally only played EVE: Online, and found myself joining the game too late into its life cycle to really accomplish anything new or daring.
Second: The banking and financial systems ought to be designer-controlled, not player-controlled.
Those who read through the article in its entirety will notice that there is a large section near the end where I talk about how a system like this, while still flawed, could be implemented.
A basic principle in macroeconomics is that output equals input, so though monsters drop coins that players pick up, players spend those coins on repairs, mounts, and in-game items which effectively destroys that portion of the currency. Picking up where this leaves off, the game designers have full creative license to implement a system of banks and finances which use the information regarding coin drops and destructive sales (repairs, etc, mentioned above) to tweak not only coin drop rates in the wild, but interest and other factors in the banks themselves. Furthermore, what’s to say that a future game with these features doesn’t have a far more interactive social environment in which there are things to invest in?
Third: Much like the currency of the world’s nations, online currency is not backed by any commodity
This was the most common, as well as the most frustrating, complaint that the article received. Most people apparently do not know a thing about the currency in their own country:
Fiat Currency means “fake money”. Read about it. Your United States have been relying on this system since the 1970s.
Fourth: There is absolutely no mention of crossing over between real US dollars and online currencies.
The article was not about gold farming, not about moving assets from the real world to the online world, not about selling your soul to chinese farmers. There’s nothing anywhere in the article to even suggest that. However, that is another topic for another day, and is equally as important. Maybe if there were growth measures in place, investing in an online currency money market would be more lucrative than investing in a real currency money market.
The effect of this kind of investment would not only serve to make the online currency more stable, but also legitimize the fact that anything people are willing to trade with is considered currency, as long as both parties believe that others will accept it as such. Again, fiat currency.
I’m interested to see how the Entropia Universe unfolds, and I’m equally curious to find out how the Carnageblender economy is doing as a whole.
I’ve read the article about the valiantly attempted EVE: Online bank and its failure. However, this article is dealing with a bank controlled not by the players but by the game designers. Everyone has stories of guild banks being robbed by those trusted most with the money.