Last Tuesday, April 24, our CEO Roxanne Gibert was invited to speak on virtual currencies at the San Francisco Game Developer’s Workshop hosted by Yetizen Accelerator. Also speaking at the event: Harry Liu, General Manager of Kabam heading 3 games generating multiple million dollar revenues through virtual currency including The Godfather: Five Families, EdgeWorld and Final Eden; And Jon-Paul Dumont, Executive Producer at Zynga and a veteran of the gaming industry previously with EA, who has his hands on such games as CityVille Hometown and Zynga Poker mobile.
Roxanne, herself a veteran in the industry, presented on how to properly plan a virtual economy.
“What the heck is a virtual economy?” You might be asking yourself. “And for peet’s sake, why do I care?”
Each game has items that can be purchased, either with an in-game currency, or with actual money (in the gaming industry, we refer to ‘free’ in-game currency as “soft currency” and currency purchased with real money as “hard currency”).
Let’s use our very soon-to-be released game Global Attack as an example. Say your character’s name is Monk3ys4EVA. General Monk3ys4EVA works hard every day battling enemies within the game. But, Oh no! What’s this? The general isn’t making enough soft currency for his battles to unlock a tool he needs to advance in the game! Sure, you could throw down some of your real-world hard currency to help out the general, but frankly you’ve been looking forward to that dinner on Friday night for a long time, and you’re a bit cash-strapped. Poor General Monk3ys4EVA! He will never take over the world, now! And poor you, player. Now what are you going to do?! Well, you’re probably going to quit playing.
Just like the economy of a country, if the virtual economy inside a game is structured incorrectly the game is not long for this world. If players don’t get enough currency to survive or can’t somehow earn that currency, they may be forced to quit the game. That’s why setting up a proper in-game virtual economy is important, even if players don’t spend a single “hard” cent inside your virtual world. Thankfully, our CEO is an expert… so you can be sure that our games will always have an economy deep in the green.