The Evolution of Habbo Hotel’s Virtual Economy

Right, it’s been around a week since GDC 2010 and I’m running out of excuses to not post about anything about it, so here’s the easiest bit – slides from my virtual economy talk. Get them here.

There’s a nice writeup about the talk at malvasia bianca so I don’t have to explain most of the slides. Ada Chen also has a writeup.

There’s a comment in Malvasia’s blog that I want to comment. In my presentation, I argued the real world has a bunch of currencies being used actively, including euros, dollars, frequent flyer point systems, grocery store bonus point systems, shares, options and a pension fund. I made an attempt at simplifying the discussion by not calling these economic instruments – which they are. I do agree these are not interchangeable as examples, but from “design perspective” the only practical difference is the level liquidity for any of these types of assets.

Sure, shares give you control, but in practice I’d assume vast majority of today’s shareholders do not have enough shares of any stock they own that this would play any role in their ownership of the share. Any and all bonus point systems that allow you to purchase goods are currencies, even if they’re not fiat money. And from my perspective, my options and pension fund is as good as virtual until I have the money in my account (somewhere in the cloud), which might or might not ever happen.

Hence, there’s a ton of various types of value structures measured in numeric points of one type or another, which we deal with every day in real life, and don’t complain that much about it. So why would having more than one system in a virtual world be a problem?

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