Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tips on Managing a Virtual Economy - A Very Through Review of Kids-Focused Flash MMO, Moshi Monsters

Managing game economies is an interest of mine, I even moderated a panel on Managing Game Economies at Interplay a few months ago.

Combine that with a review of the kid's MMO created by MindCandy, my friend Michael Smith's company, and for me it's a must read.

T-machine, a former employee of Michael's over at MindCandy in the Perplex City days, wrote up a through analysis of the game design and game economy problems in Moshi Monsters. It's long but definitely worth a read, here's an excerpt about the economy:

I suspect that the economy of MoshiMonsters is far too illiquid right now to allow for this in any meangingful way. Mind Candy really needs to achieve a couple of things:
  1. Devalue the currency. Even Rich players don’t hang on to much currency. This has been largely driven by the source/sink economy with near unlimited sinks and very very limited sources. For instance, the amount of new + limited availability purchaseables made available for purchase each day exceeded the possible MAXIMUM rate of earning by a factor of 10 or so. No-one has had any opportunities to liquify their assets, nor to counter the source/sink imbalance
  2. Increase the volume of coinage. The currency - Rox - are currently too coarse-grained to be useful for purchases. A Rich player has literally hundreds of them. Even if other things are done, players need to be using currency that they routinely possess in the thousands, where a rich player has at least tens of thousands, preferably hundreds.
  3. Provide exit points / liquification opportunities. Thanks to the above two problems, before they can allow player-trading either Mind Candy is going to have to wait a long time for there to be enough currency with a low enough value, or … they’re going to have to provide ways for players to liquify assets into coinage.

A shop was added recently to allow players to sell their goods and generate Rox. However, the lack of trading possibilities - and hence the lack of ability for players to arbitrage on anything except raw price - combined with the *probably* non-fluctuating prices in that shop mean it’s going to be largely ineffective / punitive as a liquidation mechanism.

Read the whole thing here: