Parallel to the console blockbusters, another model for game development and revenue has emerged – subscription based ‘massively multiplayer online games’ (MMOG’s), where hundreds, thousands or many more players can simultaneously interact in an online game world. More than a few of my friends leave events early to go back inside these games, and with about 50 active games and upwards of 2 or 3 million people playing at any one time, they are far from alone ( in being alone with their computer ).
The vast populated continents within World of Warcraft are one of the most popular online game destinations in the Western World, but in high bandwidth Korea, a single game called Lineage claims more than four million players, and www.muonline.com – claims to have 40 million registered accounts. Add games like Star Wars Galaxies and There.com, and the monthly subscription fees really start to add up. Even more fascinating though, are the emerging in-game economies, where virtual ‘assets’ are gathered or made and sold for real cash on ebay.
Online 3-D worlds are social spaces, and so more entrepreneurial in-game characters have started exploiting their abilities to create virtual clothes and customized graphics.
“One of the leading clothes designers is making $3,000 to $4,000 a month, which is a full-time job,” says There.com’s founder, Will Harvey. Also popular with in-game designers making income is http://secondlife.com/ which has recently allowed free members to roam within.
Dwarfing the virtual trinkets is www.project-entropia.com, where a virtual space station / resort was recently bought for $100,000 in an auction, effortlessly jumping past last year’s auctioned island for $26,500. DJ Neverdie ( www.realityport.com) bought the space resort Club and wants to develop it into the “Greatest virtual night club in the Universe”.
“I’m already in talks with some of the worlds biggest DJs about spinning live sets inside the nightclub,” said Neverdie. “Gamers want to be entertained while they play, hunt, socialise and craft, and because of the real cash economy aspects of Project Entropia, they can afford to pay for their entertainment.”
And rounding out the black market – www.mmorgy.com – a blog covering online game kinks and sex-mods within World of Warcraft and Anarchy Online.