Friday, March 9, 2012

The successful business and gaming model of Entropia Universe

Usually when you ask someone that plays Entropia Universe "What is so unique about this game?" the answer will be "It has Real Cash Economy! Everything costs real money! You can get rich in the game and withdraw your money in your real life banking account!". While this is true, it is also true that there is more than just the money.
Humans are social animals and since the beginning of games players wanted to play with their friends or even with people they don't know in multiplayer mode. Player vs player or in some cooperation mode. Even some of the first games are for two players - Tic-Tac-Toe (1952); Tennis for two (1958); Pong (1972). Or some of the best games - StarCraft; Diablo; Counter Strike; Quake - they all have multiplayer and people like it.
The next level of social, multiplayer games are the MMOG's (Massively Multiplayer Online Games). Now there is new MMO every day - Dragon Nest; Vindictus; TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea; C9 (Continent of the Ninth Seal); Guild Wars 2; Star Wars: The Old Republic; Lineage 2; APB: Reloaded; Dragona; Prius Online; Seven Souls Online; Cross Fire; Grand Chase; Eden Eternal; Hunter Blade Online; Game of Thrones; Tribal Hero; Grimlands; Roto X; Anime Trumps; Maestia: Rise of Keledus; Living After War; Divina; Traveller AR; Dragon Born Online. This is just part of the new MMO games coming now. They are made, developed and managed like any normal game - there is one company that makes everything in the game, including every place and mission. The problems here are two. First there is small amount of people responsible for the fun of sometimes even millions of players. And it is hard to make the game interesting for so many people. And second problem is that after few months of playing you get bored of doing same quests again and again, you have the best armor and weapons and you tried every skill. Finally there is nothing more to do in the game and you quit playing it.
This is now how Entropia Universe works. The people from MindArk are the top level. Then there is Crytec.
They make the graphic engine (CryEngine 2 - probably the best graphic engine for 3D MMO) of the game and save MindArk from all that work and also the possibility to make crappy engine like Even Online. Then just under MindArk are the planet partners - Creative Kingdom; Pyxel Arts; Arkadia Studios; Next Island; Neverdie; Beladcom.
MindArk provides the Entropia Platform and Planet Partners can use the ready tools to make planets with all the places, creatures, missions, armors, weapons and everything else on their planet. And they have to pay to work for MindArk. And then on the lower level are the players. Every player for all over the world have the opportunity to be part of the game, work for MindArk and make the game more fun to the other players. For that they pay $10 000 USD - $100 000 USD for a land area or $500 USD - $5 000 USD for a shop in the game. Players organize events for other players. Players help other players by mentoring them. In the end there are thousands of people working for free (even they pay for that) for MindArk turning Entropia Universe from regular game into virtual universe. Combining that with the freedom of choice in Entropia Universe (you can do whatever you want, you are not limited to following some quest or anything) makes the game so unique and people can play it for years not just for few months.
When I say that players work for free for MindArk it is not 100% true. They work with no real contract or salary. They work for their fun. But also they can make some money from that. There is no other game where you can buy part of the game and receive part of the income that game makes.
For all these reason I think that the future belongs to games like Entropia Universe. Something more than just a game. A game where you have endless freedom of choice and opportunity to be part of the game and change the game itself.

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