In a not-so-recent episode of the Multiverse podcast, the gang was discussing some of the root causes of gold selling and buying (a currently hot subject that I cannot muster the will to debate right now). Ferrel, I think, suggested that if MMOs really wanted to combat this plague of sellers, buyers and hackers, they should cut them off at the source and have a currency-free game.
Hold on a second, I think he may have something here.
Game economies, much like hit points and mana bars, are one of those deeply-rooted staples of MMORPGs that we never question any more — we just assume they are in the game and get all bristly at anyone who suggests otherwise. Some folks really love “playing the auction house” and accumulating financial wealth as sort of a metagame, and would be upset if it wasn’t there.
But today, I’ll ask, why do we NEED to have a real game economy? I mean, I understand the good parts — connects players, gives them another avenue for persuing goals, etc. Yet I’m wondering if we haven’t reached the point where the bad is outweighing the good by a significant margin.