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Online game economic studies

thett3
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7/25/2012 1:47:13 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
This is a random thought that went through my head, but do you think there is much to be learned by observing the economies of online multiplayer games? Think about it, give an economist control of a virtual economy, and it's basically like a dream come true..they can manipulate it at will, test theories such as stimulus spending, or whatever else.

I know there are a lot of differences between game economies and real life (like you know, entirely different incentives since you dont need to survive, you can just quit)... perhaps a controlled experiment could produce more info with less confounding variables. Idk, just a thought.
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NixonianVolkswagen
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7/25/2012 5:30:43 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I don't know of any studies, but I remember noting that in Diablo II, eventually even the rarest items massively devalued, because parties would be completing the game so often and in such volume that the community as a whole was swamped with duplicates of everything.

Given the institutionalized rewards, the only way to retain anything close to original prices would have been a constant exponential growth in players (and of course, in time, the opposite occurred as FPS pastures were franchise'd). Assuming one wants stability, having a mechanism which tailors, say, weapons released by those you slay to the number of users currently playing might work. Although, an unintended consequence might be that it disincentivizes the "MMO" part of an MMORPG, or else punishes people in awkward timezones.
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Stephen_Hawkins
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7/25/2012 4:55:19 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
It can tell us of certain facts, when ceteris paribus. But the general application for comparison to the real market, and making real marker predictions, is near impossible.
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16kadams
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7/25/2012 5:02:54 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
How would they get the right data to represent an economy?

And easily editing means they can change the results...
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Contra
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7/25/2012 9:26:37 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/25/2012 5:30:43 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
I don't know of any studies, but I remember noting that in Diablo II, eventually even the rarest items massively devalued, because parties would be completing the game so often and in such volume that the community as a whole was swamped with duplicates of everything.

Diablo II was an awesome game. One of the best I ever played.

Given the institutionalized rewards, the only way to retain anything close to original prices would have been a constant exponential growth in players (and of course, in time, the opposite occurred as FPS pastures were franchise'd). Assuming one wants stability, having a mechanism which tailors, say, weapons released by those you slay to the number of users currently playing might work. Although, an unintended consequence might be that it disincentivizes the "MMO" part of an MMORPG, or else punishes people in awkward timezones.
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darkkermit
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7/25/2012 9:39:46 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/25/2012 1:47:13 AM, thett3 wrote:
This is a random thought that went through my head, but do you think there is much to be learned by observing the economies of online multiplayer games? Think about it, give an economist control of a virtual economy, and it's basically like a dream come true..they can manipulate it at will, test theories such as stimulus spending, or whatever else.

I know there are a lot of differences between game economies and real life (like you know, entirely different incentives since you dont need to survive, you can just quit)... perhaps a controlled experiment could produce more info with less confounding variables. Idk, just a thought.

I thought about this as well. I remember someone charted inflation/deflation that occurred during runescape.

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Ren
Posts: 7,102
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7/26/2012 10:31:14 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
That is a very intriguing thought indeed. I think it's more possible than assumed. Analyzing the various markets on WoW, for example, is paramount to overall success. Without wise financial decisions, you will never be able to even ride a drake and all that time spent leveling occupations would be for naught.

For example, remaining attentive to character type distributions can help you price your gems correctly. If there aren't a lot of potions and flasks available, then there probably isn't a very good market for alchemy materials... Although,a leveling package might be a gold mine for both you and a savvy investor who has also noticed that and has no previous attachments or does have an inactive bank toon...
Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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7/29/2012 5:57:53 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/25/2012 1:47:13 AM, thett3 wrote:
This is a random thought that went through my head, but do you think there is much to be learned by observing the economies of online multiplayer games? Think about it, give an economist control of a virtual economy, and it's basically like a dream come true..they can manipulate it at will, test theories such as stimulus spending, or whatever else.

I know there are a lot of differences between game economies and real life (like you know, entirely different incentives since you dont need to survive, you can just quit)... perhaps a controlled experiment could produce more info with less confounding variables. Idk, just a thought.

There's actually been some studies of, for instance, WoW "money mining" and how it relates to real businesses.

You wouldn't need to give the economist "control" of the economy (and in a multiplayer game I'm not sure how that would work), but instead only really need access to the same sort of information that would be used when we try to model real economies.

Basically, most economic studies of individuals interacting depend on behavioral economists setting up rules and variables and allowing the individuals to act as they wish. Your idea would be to integrate this thinking into existing MMOs by isolating the economic from non-economic data (ex. the shape of a game monster).

In essence, your thought is correct.

Also, interestingly, MMOs do allow for a certain form of studying "risk." I can't find it at the moment, but at one point I skimmed an article that made the point that in a game like WoW, players will have different incentives toward action if the result of a character dying is "being regenerated in a different spot" and "permadeath" where you need a whole new character each time you die. Namely, permadeath simultaneously makes all actions more thrilling (due to the fact that our aversion to loss is less than our attraction to gain for any given amount http://en.wikipedia.org...) while possibly leading to complete withdrawal by a player if an advanced character receives permadeath.
Wnope
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7/29/2012 6:00:27 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Also, many business schools run class-wide "simulations" where they are separated into "corporations" and placed inside a virtual economy within which they must deal with random external and internal problems while dominating the market compared to other class groups. In this case, an instructor controls the entire "economy" outside what each group choose on each "round."
Erik_Erikson
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7/31/2012 8:49:21 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/29/2012 6:00:27 PM, Wnope wrote:
Also, many business schools run class-wide "simulations" where they are separated into "corporations" and placed inside a virtual economy within which they must deal with random external and internal problems while dominating the market compared to other class groups. In this case, an instructor controls the entire "economy" outside what each group choose on each "round."

Why limit yourself to economics? This sounds like it could be applied to evolutionary biology as well.
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