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Virtual World Economies

Rate this Article In previous articles we covered what a virtual world is, and what you can do, in this article we will go over the currencies and economies of virtual worlds. Virtual Worlds Land! - Virtual World Economies

Virtual worlds have become massively popular, and there are a huge amount of varieties of game ready to play. Each world has its own unique money system and economy but they all share some semblance to a real world economy. There are ways to make money and spend money to balance out the system.

Whether you play Second Life and spend your Linden Dollars on a new outfit or spending your Blu on a new car in Blue Mars the basic idea is the same. Earn a specific currency and then spend it on things you like. The name may be different in whichever world you choose to play, but the rewards are the same.

With so many things available to buy, houses, cars even pets there is a demand for currency in the game. Often the currency can be bought for real money from the game retailer or you can create items and sell them in the game world. In many games you can create almost anything, or host parties and charge for them. There are many ways to make money in a virtual world, and even more ways to spend them.

Several of the worlds allow players to become developers and create items for the game. Developers can make anything that that they want and then sell them for in game cash. This is one of the easiest ways to earn money inside of a virtual world, and some of the games will give you special developer tokens to spend, or provide you with discounted currencies for helping create items in the game.

As well as buying for real money or becoming a developer many of the worlds provide you with at least a small starting amount of funds to play with. There are also options to earn money, by doing jobs when you are away from the game or helping out other players running shops, events or hosting parties All of these things and connections to other players can earn you money.

We have discussed a little about what you can purchase in a virtual world, but not really gone into the details. In many of the games, anything you can think of in real life can be purchased in a virtual one. The ownership of virtual property has become quite a big thing in recent years, especially in games like IMVU and WoozWorld. There was the case of a player buying virtual land in Second Life and then bringing a legal action claiming ownership of the property when his account was suspended by the developers. This sense of ownership of property, as well as goods is causing quite a stir in the real financial markets.

It was estimated that over $2 Billion was made selling virtual currencies or goods across the globe. Not all of that was for virtual worlds, some of it went to other styles of game like EVE orWorld of Warcraft. But virtual worlds accounted for a large portion of that amount. It just goes to show how many people are willing to spend real money on virtual currencies. Many games have third party providers that sell in game currencies or items for real money in a growing global economy.

But with access to buying currencies outside of the game it has the danger of unbalancing the markets inside of the virtual world. A sudden large influx of currency can destabilise a market and cause inflation or even a collapse. Too much money makes goods to expensive and many players can’t keep up with the cost of items as they don’t earn enough money to do so. This then causes the market to begin to fold as the value of the currency becomes more and more meaningless.

To counteract this some games companies have started to employ trained economists to help them balance the systems inside of their world. They create special areas to take currency away from the system, by buying goods from the games company and so moving money away from the players of the game. Other options include limiting where the currency can be purchased from, by making it against the terms and conditions to buy outside of the game, or penalising or banning accounts if you are found to have purchased currency.

Whichever world you play in, or if you play in several there are so many fun things that you can do, and many of them have some form of in game currency involved. You can play in a virtual world and have fun without the hundreds or thousands of whichever currency the world uses. But there is a market inside of the game, and the money certainly gives you access to more and more items or things to do.

The virtual markets are a growing industry, both inside of the world and outside of it. While we can not advocate the use of third party websites we can not deny that they are having a huge impact on the virtual worlds that we enjoy. With the steps being taken by developers, and the large amount of legitimate ways to purchase currency and spend it in the game there is no crisis looming on the horizon. But it can not be denied that in more ways than we think virtual worlds are starting to mimic the real one.

Virtual world currencies are here to stay, and in many ways that's a good thing. Having a few extra Blu’s or Linden Dollars to spend on something nice is a wonderful thing. And we have to enjoy the games and worlds that we play in. And the economies provided by the developers, and the goods created by players drive these markets and make virtual worlds better to play.

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