Friday, March 16, 2007

Get Rich Playing Games


The future is now...

...So I say to my friends each time I tell them about two of my favourite online games, Second Life & Entropia Universe.

Most of them awe when I talk about making millions just by playing a game. And even if it sounds far fetched, it’s the simple truth. These particular games offer the participant a chance to make money using creativity and skills.

While in Second Life the main attraction is to create things yourself and sell them to make money, in Entropia Universe its about getting that massive loot while doing an activity like crafting weapons, or mining the ground for valuable resources.

In this post, ill compare some important aspects of these two games. For an easier view, I will refer to Second Life as SL and Entropia Universe as EU.

Credits = Real Money!

One thing these two games have in common is that to buy things inside them you will need to pay real dollars for ingame credits. While in games like World Of Warcraft you only pay a monthly subscription, in SL and EU you have to buy credits from the publisher. SL also has a subscription that allows you to own your own land and a second character. EU has no monthly payments.

If you want to convert the credits you have earned/bought into real money, in SL you need to sell them to other players, while in EU the publisher itself makes the exchange.

This is important, because in SL the credits value tends to be dictated by how much players are willing to pay for them, while in EU the credits are tied to real life dollars.



User Made vs Already Made

One of the biggest gaps between SL and EU is the content. Content in SL is purely made by players. Linden Labs provides a land section that is available for credits.

The rest you can make using an advanced 3d construction system, based on building blocks called “Primitives”, and with the use of a complex script system to make things work. With enough imagination and skills, you can be making lots of credits in no time.

In EU, all content is provided by Mindark. This can be frustrating at times, especially when you play a game like SL where you see the most amazing things built by players, like jetpacks, cars, and fully scripted slot machines.

On the other hand, Mindark servers and databases are clean. The good thing about not giving players a chance to make their own items, avoids alot of trash and content overload. This I believe is what makes EU stable, while SL needs a daily maintenance and extended downtime periods.

Stability

SL is frustrating at times. Lots of lag, database mistakes, rollbacks, malicious scripts that take the game down and flood the databases, getting stuck on an area without being able to get out for hours. While their construction system is quite amazing… Players make so many things and upload so many content, that the game is constantly down due to overloads. Eventually, you will get annoyed by this and simply log off and go play another game.

EU is the opposite. It rarely goes down, 99% of the time servers are up, and has small maintenance periods, which usually are used for Version Updates (upgrades).

Business Opportunities

The main attraction to these worlds is money. Let’s face it, playing a monopoly game is fun, but gets boring. While if there is real cash involved, it’s a whole different story!

You can make a fortune in both games. The difference lies in the approach.

In SL, you will need to make use of creative skills or real estate management to make a good sum of cash. Being it by creating items like clothes, furniture, houses, or just buying and selling land. There is a very successful player that has made over a million dollars by buying land, equipping it with houses, gardens and the lot… and selling for a higher price.

In EU, the way to make money is to buy and sell anything you can get your hands on. But prices are quite different then SL's. While in SL a small land area costs about 50$, in EU any land area has a cost of 25000$ and its rising. And as for items, most clothes you see in SL cost no more then 5$, clothes in EU can cost up to 2000$.

The problem is, most items you buy in Second Life aren’t tradable. You buy once and they stay in your inventory until you terminate your account. But in EU, you can resell items you buy and make a percentage. Many players have this approach, which causes a high inflation in the items. Not many months ago, virtual guns were being bought and sold for 4000$... and nowadays they cost 14000$. In just a few months! Amazing at the very least.




Express Yourself

Sexy hot naked girls. Orgies. Bondage machines. Raw virtual sex. Scripted emotions, genitals, poses. This is the true market of Second Life. If there’s something that generates lots of income its this. You need to have at least 18+ to play the game, so no harm there. If you are -18, then there’s SL Teen, where this kind of content is not allowed.

SL is all about expressing yourself thru actions, clothing, character skin and body. Its common to see huge lands with thousands of displays full with clothes and skins. You can pimp yourself up in anyway you want, you can even transform yourself into a furry kitten if you like. Its all about fantasy and roleplaying, making justice to the term “player”.

In EU you can’t remove your underwear. The clothes are old school looking, there’s a basic number of emotes, some of them absurd. Painting a piece of clothing can cost up to 1300 dollars (!) and the avatar meshes are outdated and look odd when the avatar talks or smiles. If you want surgery it will cost you, the success rate is low, there’s only a few surgeons ingame capable of doing it, and none of them has unlocked the full range of modifications available. With today's gaming technology, there's no reason to keep things so basic.




Technical Support

SL support is good. They have a daily newsfeed, future events and updates scheduled, even an official forum that is moderated by official people from Linden Labs. Transparency is the key word here.

But Mindark is mysterious. The technical support rarely gives an explicit answer to players questions, changes are made to the system without previous warning, and if a player gets hacked, 1 out of 10 times he gets his possessions back. This can be very frustrating, and in turn takes away any trust that a new player has on the game. It should be different, afterall, things are very expensive in Entropia.

The average player ends up depositing thousands of dollars to get hold of some decent gear, clothing and estate. Then if for some reason he has problems, and asks for help… He will most likely get an automated excuse from the support saying they cannot help. There isn’t even an official forum.

Its understandable in a way... Real money makes them cautious. If Mindark helped everyone and told people about their decisions and ways of management, people would end up using that information against them and abuse the system. To prevent such problems, they tend to keep players in the dark.

What Lies Ahead

Gamers tend to play games once and never look at them again. No matter how fun and impressive a game is, it gets pointless. Either because you’ve reached the top and there’s nowhere else to go to, or because you’ve made so much monopoly money, you own everything and you are still as poor as you were in real life when you started.

The future is always uncertain, but these two games have been going for a few years now. While others have failed, they kept on growing. Its likely that both will grow even bigger, as they are based on real money. That is key to maintain the interest of players.

Personal note

The most curious thing is that after one and a half years playing Entropia Universe, I can’t get enough of it. Its addictive, my items grow in value, my character is stronger then ever and I don’t feel the slightest boredom.

I have a name that people know, made many friends and even business connections to the other side of the planet thru it. It acts as a door to the world, opening many possibilities.

Ill be staying for a long time, that’s for sure.

J.

11 comments:

Xerogs said...

Great comparison between SL and EU.

Anonymous said...

I never realized how important porn was to the SL economy. Kinda scary.

Jorael said...

Yep, its a big money maker. Once u start participating, and visit the most popular places, 4/5 will be sex related or casinos.

Anonymous said...

You made some great comparisons. I have played EU for a couple of years and am now playing SL. There are two main factors for me switching. First one being money.
I don't want to waste my time in EU. I don't have the money to drop $300 an month to have an entertaining time. The skill progression is horrid and long. Speaking of skill progression-there a few things you can do: Hunt, Mine, Craft, Tailor, Sweat (totally worthless these days), or Trade. To me doing the same thing over and over got boring. I'm sure if I had money to deposit every month My level of boredom might decrease. But the real factor is I just got bored of hunting-mining-crafting. After two years it was still the same thing.

I think MA has done a great job from when PE/EU was first released. I think they have a long way to go. Also they should step out of the "business model" and take a look at the community and not their pocket books.

Skam said...

Good comparison, mostly.
Some thoughts came to mind tho when reading it, something you either forgot to mention or something I didnt agree with personally.

Clothing:
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While comparing clothes in EU and SL you forgot to mention that nothing there is unique so to say, unless you make something in one piece only and make it so that no other person would want to wear that. If you make something and its not copyable, but awesome, someone will be able to make something like it anyway. Also, some clothes and items are able to be resold.

In EU only tailored clothings are able to be remade in several pieces, and these are controlled by market of minerals and tailoring materials which comes from hunters and miners, plus the fees from tailorers and colorers -the circle of EU, everyone gets involved.

While in SL, you dont even need to be ingame to make a business out of making clothing or skins, you dont need anything from the game, you just need to draw it. Time demanding to get it right, sure; but when you have made one piece, you can duplicate it to no matter how many you want with pressing just one button. You dont need to tailor every single piece.

Looted clothing is more special, these are more unique, rarely looses value and mostly just gain it, because they can not be looted anymore in EU.
Even when the Master coats were introduced everyone thought their looted coats would loose value. It did not nudge it.
----

gfx:
-------
EU definatly needs a GFX update and if I remember correctly also MA knows this very well and are not happy about their current motor.

Yet, the images you chose to represent each game is a bit gloryfying in SL's part. I remember SL mostly for the ugly building made by players who obviously have no sense of esthetics at all. And lots of these clammed together, not matching, houses in the skies when you look up because it lags less there, and poorly made places who makes the houses in Ultima Online look extraordinary..

In Entropia, since its controlled, we do not always get what we want, and MA certainly does screw up their housing development at times aswell. Trees and grounds inside houses. Perhaps we dont get as cool places as the really well-made Sim's in SL, but at least we dont get the poor ones either.

SL is much more contrast filled the EU.
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Land:
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A landarea in EU and a landarea in SL is very different. While it most definatly are much cheaper in SL also it does not mean as much profit as EU. In both games (or universes...) you must give the place PR and reputation to get a proper income.
While EU limits what LA's can do, SL doesnt.
But, EU also basically mean you will have a constant flow of people using your land, while in SL you must always fight for it by making it look, feel and be superiour to all the million other places there are around aswell.

You must offer something great. And in SL that involves alot more work, to keep up-to-date with the ever changing SL; then fertilizing your land and providing some DNA in EU, I would assume.

Making a name for yourself in SL is much harder then in EU.
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Other:
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I miss the fact that while you mentioned hacking you did not mention gold cards and the lack of such security in SL!

Also when you mentioned support and that Linden is much more open then EU, I would like to add that I belive they have the freedom to be as they are open source game relying on participant content, while MindArk only relies on their users using their allready built content.

SL and EU... its not really able to be compared. They are completely different games with completely different goals and means. SL is either a social hangout or a business oppertunity. EU is more of a gamers universe, in my humbe opinion.

- Skam

Jorael said...

skam:

I didnt forget to mention, i just didnt want a large article (which is a bit already :P)

priorities, priorities....

Coburn said...

Comparing SL to Entropia Universe is like comparing a dog to a cat,similar companions but not the same species;)

Kipp Shives said...

i tried to start up a sl account one day recently just to see what it was like.

then i remembered i am addicted to eu. logged out of that, and got back to the game i know and love.

btw, where was that picture taken in game and is there a list of the ppl in it, it's a great shot of some uber uber ppl. i think i recognize a few and saw the movie file on utube, but where is it and who's in it, eh?

- Skippie

Another said...

Some things show me that MA lost the "race" against SL some time ago. Now they are just running behind, trying to adapt things that make SL so attracting to anyone, even global companies. And in their way to do it they do it like always, in the typical dilettante MA way. Like with the new player content where the rights on your very own creativity actually belong to Mindark once you uploaded it. I bet when scripting comes its going to be the same.
Thats why companies like Adidas, BMW, DaimlerChrysler (Mercedes-Benz), Pontiac, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, General Motors, Reuters, Reebok, Sony BMG, SonyEricsson any many more enter the world of SL and add there content there.
Mercedes-Benz operates a virtual test track there, now how cool is that !
SL did the right thing from the beginning, saying that everything that participants create belongs to them.

Apart from some spikes during MA´s Landarea/TI/Spaceresort etc. sales, googletrends clearly shows the direction too
http://tinyurl.com/2ro8rc
http://tinyurl.com/3x8kra

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Kadmiel said...

Great comparison between SL and EU.