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Monday, May 29, 2006

Anyone else notice this?

When you work on something, day in and day out, it kind of becomes you obsession. You get so involved that you begin to find things about it fascinating, even when you know that most of your friends will simply stare at you with blank eyes as you explain the point to them.

We're all guilty of it, but those of us with a Blog get to share our thoughts with complete strangers as well as friends :)

Let me get to the point. My work at Eye On MOGS entails spending long hours thinking about the secondary market surrounding MMORPGs, talking with people who work in the industry on various levels and staring at pricing information as it comes streaming in. I know, I know - it's a fascinating job. Hehe.

So what have I noticed that is so compelling that I felt the need to share? Well, I couldn't help but notice that there has been a fundemental shift in the real-virtual exchange rates between US and EU World of Warcraft servers.

Check out the image below, which shows more graphically what I'm painfully explaining:

You might want to click the image to get a better look! What we can see here is a graph showing the average dollar value per Gold on the US and EU Aggrammar servers from 1st Feb to 30th May 2006.

What you will notice is that come the end of April all of a sudden the two lines switch over. For whatever reason at that point it became cheaper to buy gold on an EU server - the opposite to the general trend prior to that date.

I've run through a number of EU and US servers and they all show a similar trend. It's also interesting to see in this graph that over time the exchange rates from gold to dollar fluctuate up and down.

The trend is downward, but I think it's important to note that this does not necessarilly say anything about the relationship between RMT and a games economy. My understanding of economic theory may not be great but I believe that, basically, a currency will continue to devalue (as will anything) when there is an overabundence of it. What's so great about having a Porsche if everyone has one? The only way around this is to have sinks for the money to fall into, and those sinks have to keep changing, like DVD replacing VCR - it forces you to spend your money on something new. In a game you don't spend the cash, you spend your time. Perhaps if it was the other way round the economies would be more stable?

The drop in exchange rate is due to the relative ease of getting gold in the game, probably largely due to people hitting higher levels and finding niches to sell in - the connection to RMT is... well, unresearched and speculative.


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