Since their arrival in the 1990s, the online games they quickly became one revolutionary form of entertainment, which was constantly evolving with the expansion of the Internet around the world. The first online video game to be a huge success was the MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) Lineage, which managed to gather more than one million subscribers and after this success, the great financial impact that these videogames could have in the future. Later in the new millennium, MMO online games like RuneScape and Eve Online they were gaining more and more players with an increasing financial impact thanks to the complex virtual economy in their virtual world.
Today, the virtual economy can be found in any online video game (regardless of its genre) and business models have evolved to achieve the balance between financial benefit for development companies and player enjoyment. At least that is the case in most cases.
The virtual economy in online games has become extremely complex, so it is important for companies to know how to manage it properly, as a bad decision can cause problems for players, which translates into large financial losses. That said, the following are some of the most important aspects that development companies need to consider in order to avoid failure in the virtual economy of their online games.
The importance of design for the virtual economy of online gamess
As mentioned above, implementing a virtual economy in a video game is a complex task that must be programmed from the initial development stage of videogames (either during conception, design or production). A very common mistake occurs when the necessary time has not been given to plan the internal economy of the game. This means that the virtual currency applied and its benefits to players are not sufficiently developed and do not fit properly into the game, which can lead to failure.
Virtual economy must be predicted, balanced and tested from the first conception of videogame in order to achieve a proper pairing in its design. All virtual goods (goods purchased in the game) and virtual coins must have a logical function in the game, appear at a specific time in the customer experience journey and have a specific price, very balanced, so as not to ruin the experience of the players.
In order to balance the virtual economy of online games, it is necessary to understand the concepts of Money in, Money out (MIMO). With this in mind, a proper balance must be struck between the virtual currency coming out of users' pockets and the one coming in, as this will make it possible to determine the limit of shortage and available money throughout the "Journey" of customers. When a videogame provides players with a large amount of virtual currency, inflation in the game's virtual economy is inevitable, which causes a devaluation of the virtual goods, which may eventually cause a lack of interest on the part of players. But, if there is the opposite case, where there is an excessive lack of virtual currency in the game due to the difficulty of obtaining it, then the difficulty of obtaining virtual goods will also increase, which can lead to frustration for players. That said, development companies have a difficult task finding the right balance in MIMO.
It should also be noted that in order to consider the existence of a virtual economy within a video game, there must be at least the following elements: buy / sell transactions and a place for their execution (built-in toy stores or external markets). In the case of markets, they are fully managed by the players, but they are part of the economy of a game, as through them you can get virtual goods and virtual coins from online videogames. That being said, one suggested market is the Eldorado, as it guarantees the most important aspect that an online market needs, which is sales security. In addition, in Eldorado you can exchange virtual currencies and virtual products from the most popular online videogames, such as RuneScape Gold and EVE Online ISK And much more.
After implementing virtual economy in an online videogame, developers need to constantly study players for to avoid the following three most common risks:
Overpricing: It is important to know that most virtual savings in video games exist so that companies can have an indirect relationship with the real money of the players. Therefore, it is important to know the target audience of videogames very well. This implies Knowledge of average purchasing power, expectations and many other aspects related to player economy. If companies do not do this research properly, it will not be possible to properly determine the price range that will be accessible to most players.
However, it is also unavoidable for the video game economy that rarer virtual products will be priced much higher than others, which could be paid by some enthusiastic gamers who are dedicated to collecting rare items in games. Nevertheless, the key is not to raise the price of such items too much, as this could obviously put an end to the excitement of the players concerned. Therefore, it is necessary for companies to be careful and set smart prices that match the financial reality of their users.
Pay-to-win: Another aspect that many companies should avoid altogether when developing the virtual economy is the well-known pay-to-win, which occurs when a virtual asset offers too many benefits to players who have decided to pay for it, to the point of they look quite superior to players who do not pay for these benefits. Another similar element is pay-to-progress, which prevents players from continuing to advance the game if they do not make the required payments. Both pay-to-win and pay-to-progress are usually acquired negative reviews for the game, so their inclusion should be avoided. Companies choose these items as a simple way to make players feel the need to pay for their in-game gaming products.
Voluptuous adaptation: It is relatively easy for developers to fall into this phenomenon when players end up getting excited too easily about getting virtual products, get used to it and need more of it to keep getting excited about the game. This proves to be a problem because it causes an unsustainable increase in the virtual goods production chain that will lead to excessive production costs for companies, and because it will not be able to satisfy the user, the inevitable will happen, ie the abandonment of online games by them. players. Although it should also be noted that companies with sufficient financial resources are not significantly affected by the continuous production of virtual goods, as long as there is a balance in MIMO
The importance of pre-defining a business model
When developing a videogame, one of the first aspects to be defined is undoubtedly the business model that the video game will have, as this will determine how the company will be able to make profits, while also determining the behavior of the virtual economy. When a videogame has a unique payment model, then most of the revenue for your company should come from in-game purchases, so you should not overdo it with the amount of downloadable content (DLC) content, as well as gamers want to buy full videogames. While with a model Free-to-Play, the money earnings for the company will come from the small transactions that players make in the game, so it is important for developers to know how to include a large amount of varied and attractive content for which players will want to pay without any problems . Having said that, It is clear that business models are a fundamental part of the virtual economy of online games.