[MUD-Dev] Are eBay sales more than just a fad?

Matthew Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Fri Sep 15 21:20:23 CEST 2000

On Thu, 14 Sep 2000, John Buehler wrote:

> > Matthew Mihaly
> > Sent: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 11:35 PM
> > In the end though John, you're arguing a losing battle. The only way I can
> > conceive of that would stop people from selling and buying characters or
> > whatever is to remove all value from the characters or items, which means
> > you have to ensure that no one cares even the slightest bit about them (as
> > if even one person cares about something, it has value). Of course, in
> > that case, your game isn't going to make any money or have any players
> > anyway, so it is a moot point.
> The point here is that there is a question of what is desireable for the
> overall well-being of the genre.  If sales of characters, skills, items and
> such result in the fostering of a mercenary mindset on the part of players,
> then mercenaries will be more common.  If a game company says "We not only
> sanction sales, we do it ourselves!".  What game community will result?  Do we
> want games that encourage businessmen to farm items for sale to other players?

Well, all I can really say is that I think Achaea's community is really
quite excellent. We have very dedicated players who love Achaea. When I
was at the user-organized 5 day A2k (Achaea 2000) meet this summer, I was
quite touched at the level of community that my world (which is, as you
know, is based on selling items and skills to the players) had engendered.
When people arrived they were all rushing to hug each other (many had
spoken on the phone multiple times, even cross-continent), etc, and the
entire week I was just blown away by the sense of community in the group
(I felt a bit of an outsider at first actually, as so many of them knew
each other quite well, and I didn't really know them too well.)

So, my answer is, a community which is, in my opinion and the opinion of
everyone else at A2k, extremely potent and extremely cool. Listen John, I
understand your objections, but they are misplaced. You're attacking
something which I've made work without any understanding of how and why it
works, or even any first-hand experience of it. I'm not offended by any
means, but the fact is, I can show you an example of where it works (note
that I'm speaking here of the world not only sanctioning sales but doing
it ourselves. I do not sanction buying and selling of characters. I
provide a real-life purchaseable currency though, which is what players
use to buy things in the game (such as gold, rarer useful items, etc) from
each other. That way they don't have to go to Ebay to do it.)

> Imagine visiting Disneyworld and finding that a significant number of park
> visitors are actually businessmen who get paid to ride the rides as many times
> as they can.  They aren't enjoying what they're doing, it's a job.  So you
> find yourself surrounded by people who aren't having a good time, and as soon
> as they get off the ride, they rush back into line again.  They don't concern
> themselves with anything except the money that they're going to make for the
> number of times that they sit in a ride.  The atmosphere of the park suffers.

Yes, that'd suck alright. I don't see that the analogy is a good one

> You're arguing that people are willing to buy virtual stuff, so let's sell it
> to them.  I'm arguing that people are also willing to buy drugs, sex, perjury
> and a number of other things.  A customer's willingness to purchase something
> doesn't make it inherently healthy for the community at large.  My claim is
> that turning virtual stuff directly into a business is unhealthy for the game
> community at large.

I don't have any problems with selling drugs, sex, or perjury either. I'm
quite supportive of open drug and sex sales in fact, and merely neutralish
about selling perjury.

Also keep in mind that muds are, by and large at this point in time,
commercial enterprises (I'm speaking in terms of what number of players,
and commercial muds attract way more than free muds do), and that the goal
of a commercial enterprise is to make money. It does that by keeping the
community healthy, and I have to say that given my experience, the two are
most certainly not antagonistic goals. I know I make more money because my
players feel so strongly bonded to Achaea and to each other. I also know
that this situation is hardly unique to Achaea.
> You have made prior comments that joining in the game experience itself is
> paid for in many cases.  The difference is that the starting point for all
> players is the same - varied only by the player's actual abilities.  When the
> starting point for players is different due to real world money, those who do
> not have the money will not bother with the game - they can't use their brains
> to be the achievers.  Such is the case with lots of smart kids out there.
> They thrive on achievements due to using their brains.  That would seem to be
> a much better system of checks and balances than having money.

I hate to sound like such a dick, but you're just wrong. I don't really
think you have any idea what you're talking about. You're just making up
fictional scenarios in your head. We have _lots_ of people who play Achaea
without ever spending a cent, or with spending very very little. Here for
example is Cecil, a Druid who has played for 1023 hours so far, spread out
over approximately 550 days, logging in a total of 1128 times so far. He
spent $20 back in August, 1999, and hasn't spent a dime since then. It is
worth noting though that his character has the equivalent of about $160 in
him, because lots of people have transferred their credits to him. (Why, I
don't know, but it could be because people do that for friends, or because
he bought the credits with gold or the herbs he can pick, etc). Anyway, my
point is that given that people can buy the rl-purchased currency with
in-game items, anyone with a lot of free time can convert that into
credits, and likewise, anyone without a lot of free time (but with rl
money) can buy _some_ of the benefits of someone with a lot of free time.


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