News, research and discussion on virtual goods, currencies and economies globally.

Internal Economy

Wall Street Journal blogs about virtual economy research


I usually don't do self-serving posts about media appearances, but this one is good enough to point out: WSJ Blogs' Real Time Economics has an article titled Real Economist Learns From Virtual World. It's a decent story about the space MMO EVE Online published by CCP Games, and HIIT's virtual economy research collaboration with them. My boss Marko Turpeinen is interviewed.  Read more

AVEA virtual economy research project final report released

A seminar on virtual economy research is starting in a few minutes here in Helsinki. The seminar marks the conclusion of a 2.5-year virtual economy themed research project at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology. The purpose of this post is to disseminate the 119-page final report of the project. Here you go! (edit: summary version added) Excerpt from the report below.  Read more

Cosmetic Real Money Trading in World of Warcraft


Despite a staunch position against non-company-sanctioned real-money trading (RMT), or the exchange of “real” money for virtual goods and services, Blizzard Entertainment has recently introduced new features of World of Warcraft that have opened the door to the sale of the company’s own virtual goods. While currently focused on cosmetic elements of the game in a controlled and limited way, the development of Blizzard-sanctioned and governed RMT raises some questions and concerns about such practices as well as opening the door for further such activities in the future.  Read more

Game Design as Marketing: The Business/Game Developer's Dilemma

A brief presentation I gave at Games-As-Services Seminar on March 2nd about the dilemma developers face when balancing between monetization and retention on game design level.

Second Life Sued: Intellectual Property and Virtual Economies

In September 2009, Second Life was sued for allowing individuals to sell fake virtual goods. The case has recently moved forward with the filing of a case management statement. While this lawsuit deals explicitly with intellectual property, these issues are also significant for virtual economies in terms of who makes money and which residents are willing to keep their businesses in Second Life.  Read more

Walled gardens are opening their gates: Linden acquires Avatars United, Habbo on Facebook


In December, the world's biggest teenager virtual world Habbo plugged into Facebook Connect. This week Linden, the operator of Second Life, announced the acquisition of Avatars United. Avatars United can be described as a sort of "Facebook for avatars", complete with a third-party applications ecosystem.

What does this mean? It's a sign of walled gardens opening up. Virtual worlds and MMOs are traditionally silos where users and data are locked in. Through Avatars United, Second Life users will be better able to link their SL profiles with the outside world: the whole universe of existing social media services, feeds and applications. It will also enable new kinds of third-party innovation in the way SL integrates with other services. All this will increase the value of having an SL account to a user. This is assuming that SL opens up some interfaces to Avatars United: as of yet there is next to no data flowing.  Read more

The price of eggs in World of Warcraft

In discussing the ease associated with having someone else do the work of gaming, more often than not large-scale services working to create offline profits like gold farming and power leveling operations are discussed. However, on a smaller scale the in-game economic systems of games like World of Warcraft can also provide players a way to avoid working for the things that they want, while simultaneously allowing other players the opportunity to profit from their in-world efforts.  Read more

Resolving Goldfarming through Concealed Validated Auctions

Guest post by Jan Pontzen on a RMT free trade mechanism for MMORPGs and other virtual worlds.  Read more

Transportable Avatars and Economic Concerns


The idea of developing transportable avatars – avatars that will be able to move both within and between different virtual worlds – has been raised in popular and academic forums for years. However, to date it appears that relatively little progress has been made on this front. While there are likely technical issues with developing such a large and complex project, it is also possible that some of the issues holding back this endeavor are likely to be economic in nature as companies seek not only to establish technical standards, but economic ones as well.  Read more

EVE Online's 3rd Quarterly Economic Newsletter published

This came out a while ago already, but I missed it until now. CCP Games' Lead Economist Dr. Eyjo writes:

The 3rd Quarterly Economic Newsletter for EVE Online is now available. This issue has the standard economic indicator of population, ships flown in space, price level reports and market snapshots. The specific topic this time around is the latest news on "Unholy Rage," the Anti-RMT operation that has been ongoing for several months now.  Read more