OthersOnline gaming and virtual economies: the value of in-game currencies

Online gaming and virtual economies: the value of in-game currencies

Video games feature their own virtual economies, powered by in-game currencies. Players earn or purchase these currencies 918kiss to unlock features and progress through the game.

Many games utilize virtual currencies as a monetization strategy, yet this poses challenges for developers. For example, it would not be considered ethical to allow players to skip portions of gameplay by purchasing currency.


As online gaming increasingly mimics real-life activities, it has become essential to investigate virtual economies. At present, EVE Online stands out as an exceptional platform for conducting this kind of analysis – its economy being entirely driven by players but subject to outside influences and changes that may alter its value – with significant research opportunities currently arising through this game.

EVE ISK values can be affected by many factors, including resource availability and player behavior. When scarce resources become more scarce, demand increases resulting in higher ISK prices; conversely when more abundant resources become more accessible their demand can decline and prices decrease accordingly.

Additionally, ISK values can be affected by the health of the economy as a whole. When an economy is strong and stable, players will invest more readily and use ISK trading as a form of investment and trade. On the contrary, an unstable economy will discourage investment while leading to reduced trust.

Technology innovation can also have an effect on ISK value. When new technologies enter EVE Online’s universe, their implementation may alter supply and demand dynamics for ISK, leading to variations in its value as well as other game items purchased using it – like PLEX cards that can be acquired with ISK.


Virtual economies derive their value from the power or reputation conferred upon in-game assets owned by their owner. For games where gold (or equivalent currency) is a primary indicator of success, players often spend hours, days or weeks earning currency so they can buy the items they desire; then use these assets to gain entry to areas of the game or advance socially.

L’Atelier conducted surveys with participants of the Virtual Economy to understand what motivates them to engage and seek wealth within these spaces. Their motivations ranged from self-serving to illicit; all were driven by desire for wealth as well as belonging and exerting influence.

While most in-game purchases are made via publisher-owned marketplaces, some of the hottest new markets in the Virtual Economy are the online grey marketplaces where players sell items directly between themselves for real money or exchange virtual goods with others outside their gaming environments. Such activities may be legal or illicit and could run afoul of several legal issues including money laundering, counterfeiting and wire fraud; regardless of legality though, their existence proves just how significant Virtual Economics has become as part of everyday life for billions around the globe.


If you play video games on any type of gaming device – console, mobile phone or PC – chances are good that you have made some sort of investment in the virtual economy. A “virtual economy” refers to an in-game marketplace in which virtual goods can be bought and sold using in-game currency in digital worlds such as online games.

Virtual economies are an integral component of gaming culture. A vibrant in-game economy provides gamers with a compelling reason to spend time and effort playing a game, leading them to invest time and energy into it for long-term profitability on both ends. Freemium models allow access to core gameplay for free while premium features and content may be purchased with real money; subscription-based services provide guaranteed revenue streams while encouraging player retention.

Player-driven markets provide another form of in-game economics. EVE Online stands out as an example, boasting an active trading market for ships, weapons and currency which sees annual exchanges valued in millions of real world dollars. Such virtual entrepreneurship creates new business opportunities for game developers; third-party marketplaces and businesses allow gamers to sell items they own for real cash in-game.

Virtual economies create intriguing policy issues both inside and outside the world of video games. A growing number of gamers treat their gaming activities like “real life”, seeking the same protections, damages and taxes that they would enjoy under traditional Earth laws.


At present, gamers spend hours every day immersed in virtual worlds; as technologies underlying them advance, that time may increase significantly. Game content production and consumption will eventually create an economy of real wealth and value; eventually these worlds may even compete with Earth economies on multiple fronts.

Gaming’s economic value can be assessed through measuring its assets created through gamers’ labour, such as digital capital goods produced annually or stockpiling and their wealth and value can be compared with that of nations; additionally, an exchange rate between in-game currencies and real money can also be estimated.

Furthermore, many games enable their participants to trade and sell in-game items with each other – creating an in-game marketplace which is valued in its own right and can provide developers with revenue. Transactions may be motivated by wealth accumulation or the thrill of competition – either way market presence can dramatically affect satisfaction levels of its participants.


Vili Lehdonvirta and Edward Castro nova’s recent paper highlights how basic concepts of economics – markets, institutions, and money – can be utilized to construct and analyze economies that rely on artificially scarce virtual goods. Their research provides valuable insight for those interested in understanding how game developers and gamers utilize in-game virtual goods and services while brand may exploit metaverse economies as marketing tools.