GDP (gross domestic product) is the value of goods and services produced by a country. It is often used to compare countries’ standards of living. As mentioned earlier, many MMOs have their own economy, and in some cases can be considered richer than many countries in the world! (See bookmark for page 12). MMOs are also incredibly popular, often boasting bigger populations of player characters than the populations of some countries.
Comparing virtual worlds, populations and economies to the real world is a task fraught with problems, and it is impossible to give truly accurate numbers in cases where game companies have not released official data. Where populations are concerned, any information must be estimated and will soon be out of date. However, here are some interesting observations about MMOs (facts obtained from Wikipedia):
- In 2003 the MMO EverQuest was measured to have a GDP of $2,266, making its virtual world the 77th richest country in the world, on par with Croatia, Ecuador, Tunisia or Vietnam.
- In 2011, with about 11 million active users, the MMO World of Warcraft has a bigger population than Greece and ranks about 75th in the world.
- In 2008 the MMO Second Life was estimated to have an income inequality of 0.90 by the Gini coefficient, which is worse than any real economy in the world. The Gini coefficient is measured from 0 (complete equality) to 1 (maximum inequality). In real world cases, the Gini coefficient ranges from 0.23 (Sweden) to 0.70 (Namibia).
- In 2007 a virtual heist in the MMO Second Life resulted in the perpetrators making off with the equivalent of US$10,000.
Like them or loathe them, MMOs are big money. In 2009, the UK online game market was worth £195 million. In the US, players spent around $3.8 billion on MMOs, $1.8 billion of which was on monthly subscription fees. World of Warcraft is the world’s most subscribed MMORPG with around 11 million subscribers in 2011. Players pay a monthly subscription fee of around $15, though this varies according to country. Players might also purchase special in game items such as pets, as well as expansion packs. Although it is hard to obtain an official figure for how much money World of Warcraft brings in, an extremely rough estimate of 11 million x $15 would put subscriptions alone at $165 million a month. Of course, a game like World of Warcraft costs a huge sum to run, market and maintain, but it is still clear that MMOs offer substantial profit.
Absinthe is an anise flavoured spirit that is naturally green, historically referred to as the ‘green fairy.’ Absinthe is extremely alcoholic and is usually diluted when drunk.