…the company had a few assumptions about how the Auction Houses would work: He thought they would help reduce fraud, that they’d provide a wanted service to players, that only a small percentage of players would use it and that the price of items would limit how many were listed and sold.
Which in hindsight, is probably one of the most ridiculous statements ever made about MMO economies.
Remember now, Blizzard runs World of Warcraft, a game that supports over 9 million players and has had an auction house since launch. And that service interacts with absolutely every single character, without exception. How you can come to the conclusion that a game that is based 100% on gear, tradeable gear mind, would not use the Auction House is mind-boggling.
But this isn’t a post about how history has shown that WoW’s economy was a fluke but more about the fact that very few games are able to purposefully implement a real economy. Everyone that has tried to replicate WoW’s has failed – including GW2 – in that nothing matters but the current end-state. Anything you acquire up to that point is essentially meaningless. Games that take a holistic approach to gear, where it matters more than end game (UO and EvE are two examples) have had long-term success.
A quality, long lasting MMO clearly requires a functioning economy. It is invariably the glue that connects the various systems (crafting, PvP, PvE, etc…) and rarely gets the appropriate amount of thought.
That being said, the game itself has to be fun to have a non-niche appeal. Otherwise you reach games like A Tale in the Desert, which is a great game but not one many have heard of.
Here’s hoping that both Wildstar and TESO are paying attention. Economy drives the playerbase and the playerbase drives the game.