I read a very interesting thesis paper today by a student from Seoul National University. It was basically a over-all view of the RMT industry, and it proposed a very big question: does the act of Real Money Trading have an adverse effect on the demand for an MMORPG? That is to say, do games that use a RMT system see their population decline because of it? Well if you were to read thesis paper above as I stated you’d probably be more inclined to say no. In fact, according to that paper RMT actually increases the population of a game. Surprised?
When I first started reading the thesis above (word to the wise, skip to the conlusion) I was a bit skeptical on the idea of RMT from a business perspective. I mean, after all, if I were to make a game would I want some other entity to come into my game and use it to rake in millions upon millions of dollars? Probably not, however, after reading the thesis paper it becomes abundantly clear that as an RMT system gets implemented the more of a demand there is for the game. This seems to be in a stark contrast to what most players on a forum would have you believe. . .
So what’s the deal with RMT systems? Well, for a hardcore gamer they are inherently bad. It’s probably the worst thing that could happen to their MMORPG as far as they’re concerned. These are also the same people that make up the vast majority of MMO forum goers. On the other hand, for a casual gamer RMT systems are a good thing. Think about it for a moment: a hardcore gamer has the time to spends hours, if not days, in the game at a time doing everything he wants and getting all of the good items. However, they pay no more than a casual gamer who maybe gets in a few hours a week. The casual gamer will probably never get to see any of these items ever. Who wins in this situation? The hardcore gamer. Now, enter the RMT system and the casual gamer can get the same items at a premium cost thus bringing the same amount of “fun” to each player. This is probably why games with RMT systems have a higher demand. The hardcore gamer is a very, very small market of the industry, and the casual market is always looking for instant gratification and a quick fix. RMT provides that and, as such, the casual market tends to head toward the games with RMT systems.
Of course, this is all based on Korean games with the Korean market in mind, but is it really that far off from our own industry? Nope, even today one of the most popular MMO games is a game with an RMT system, Second Life. You could make the argument that World of Warcraft is the most popular and yet still refuses RMT systems, but really how long can that last? I can’t even begin to tell you. . .