The Economics of an MMORPG: Albion Online
Though Albion Online launched with a few server related issues, including a short DDOS attack as well as an extortion attempt, the game pushes forward and has been relatively incident free in the past few days. While this is a less than optimal position for the game and its developers, the Albion Online team has compensated players with additional premium time to make up for time lost. This article is not a focus on what happened, but rather the unique player-driven economy within the game that makes Albion Online very intriguing.
The sandbox MMORPG’s player-driven economy consists of all equipment being player crafted, along with gathering, crafting, and trading mechanics that make the game unique. Of course, with such an ambitious undertaking, there were aspects that we were highly interested in as well as some that we were skeptical about. We had a chance to question Sandbox Interactive’s CEO and founder, Stefan Wiezorek about our queries.
With such an economy in an MMORPG, one cannot be blamed for making comparisons to notable MMORPG, EVE Online. In fact, Wiezorek stated that EVE Online was the biggest inspiration when it came to Albion Online’s economy. Personally, I believe that Albion Online’s economy is much more accessible to most players given that medieval mechanics, objects, and materials are easier to comprehend than science fiction based products that players have to learn.
In Albion Online, you play who a character that can be a crafter, a gatherer, a fighter, or all of the above. The game allows you to be a jack-of-all-trades or even specialized as a crafter for example. In fact, Wiezorek states that you can even specialize further and become “a leading crafter just for one particular type of boots”. While one may find it extremely repetitive, a player that specializes that extremely improves their proficiency as well as the quality of the item, in addition to saving resources. Albion Online is focused on its economy, and everyone has their role to play.
You might wonder, how important can a boot crafter be when everyone can only wear one pair of boots at a time anyway? Well, just about everything in Albion Online can break or be looted, especially in higher leveled areas. Because of this, specialization and cooperation within guilds definitely help if you try to be competitive in the game. Like most MMORPGs, Wiezorek states that you can play most of the game solo, but for group dungeons or raids, a group is required. MMORPGs are meant to be played with others, and the economy is heavily based on how players trade, fight and work with each other.
This highly detailed, intricate system had close to two years of beta testing and refining, making it what it is today.
Albion Online has been out for about a month now, and you might be wondering if it is too late to jump in. The answer is simple: no. If MMORPGs required players to play from day 1 consistently in order to keep up or even to just have fun, almost no one would be able to invest the time in doing so. While existing players have about a month head start over prospective players, Wiezorek makes it clear that though players who know what they are doing can advance fast early on, those “early economic advantages even out quite fast”.
Another concern we had was in relation to the economy in general. We pondered whether those who amassed a small fortune in the game would be able to skew the economy in their favor, or whether the economy would be balanced. Wiezorek put our worries at ease, stating that though the economy is player-driven, it “is full of safeguards, checks, and balances, and very well guarded against inflation and deflation, all based on careful mathematical modeling”.
And there you have it, Albion Online with its unique take on the MMORPG’s in-game economy. This highly detailed, intricate system had close to two years of beta testing and refining, making it what it is today. Gamers yet to venture into Albion should not worry, while those playing since launch have the upper hand, for now, those advantages will even out. Lastly, for all those on the fence about the game, now is a great time to hop onto to Albion Online, with the economy stabilizing and the servers becoming more reliable.
Have you played Albion Online? What are your thoughts on the game’s economy within an MMO?