[MUD-Dev] Re: Black Snow Revisited - Value Of Time

Dave Hochstaetter dhochstaetter at revelationgames.com
Tue Apr 9 13:30:31 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Good Afternoon,

In regards to the current thread/issue, one item, which may not have
been fully explored at this point, is the sale of character/items
transcends the object/item level. When a player goes to eBay and
buys a level 42 Magician character for their favorite MMOG (In this
case MMORPG) They are not only buying the item/object of the
character. They are also buying TIME. (This is what BlackSnow
Interactive (BSI) alludes is the core issue.)

This equates to a real financial loss for the commercial vendor, as
the TIME is one of the basis for their business model. IF the player
wants to play a level 42 mage, they have the cost of the game, and
the cost of the subscription, and the cost of the TIME to get to
level 42. The TIME required to get the level is a variable factor as
some players will achieve that faster than others will, however
there is in most cases of a 'commercial' online game a baseline or
timeline for how long it 'should' take for a player to reach that
level based on current demographical and statistical industry

The following example can show lost revenue due to sales of
characters, however it can still be skewed in as many ways as you
desire as it does not take into account numerous other
issues. (E.g. How long the player will play the character, what the
player who is selling the character is doing once the sale is
complete. – In the example of a character farm we know already what
they are doing.)


    $49.99 Cost of Game
    $9.95/month cost to play the game
    48 months baseline to reach level 42 in XYZ product.
    $9.95 X 48 months = $477.00

(NOTE: This does not take into account any additional value attached
to the character such as standing in the game, powers or abilities
which increase the value to the buyer.)

The above figure can be recorded as a loss for the developer when a
player buys a character on eBay or any other such venue. The sale of
items can be categorized similarly to some level, but not as
categorically as characters. Thus, there is a clear distinction to
the developer between items/characters in terms of financial loss.

Exploring item sale further, one needs to look at the in game
creation mechanics for each item and determine, what is required to
acquire the item. Then equate that with the/a TIME variable. Even
once that has been accomplished, item categorization is muddy water
mainly because the TIME variable does not translate the monthly
subscription boundary. In terms of any services that still operate
on an hourly pay-to-play format, this would apply quite aptly.


  How many commercial developers do have established baselines for
  character progression through a game? (Dave – Does Mythic?)

  Those that do -- How many have established similar baselines for
  the acquisition of items (E.g. Uber items of moderate to great

  Are there other aspects of item generation, which help to
  categorize any financial loss to the developer, outside of impact
  to the world and game balance?

In summary, a core issue is not who owns the rights to the item, but
whether the basis of TIME required to obtain items in a digital
medium will be upheld by the courts as a valid conception of value
to the developer of its content.

Comments and disagreements are appreciated, if not on topic, respond
to me directly.


Dave Hochstaetter


Disclaimer -- I have not been able to give this thread my full
attention due to the volume of posts on it, and the volume of work
on my end on projects, thus I may have missed some aspects of the
discussion that may provide additional information on the topic,
which nullify or quantifiably change the nature of this post.
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