BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Technology  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Monday, 21 October, 2002, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Inflation threatens EverQuest economy
EverQuest artwork, Sony
The EverQuest economy is under attack
Real life and online fantasy worlds have at least one thing in common: economics.

The company behind the online fantasy game EverQuest has started punishing players who have found a way to bend the game's rules and almost literally make money.

The crackdown has happened because the huge amounts of virtual cash that people were pumping into the game world were threatening to bring the EverQuest economy to its knees.

If left unchecked the influx of cash could have prompted hyperinflation and made it impossible for beginning players to get on in the game world.

Cash pile

In most respects EverQuest is utterly unlike real life as it features warriors, spell-slinging sorcerors and magical beasts of every hue, temperament and size.

But like the real world many of the characters that inhabit the world pursue a profession at the same time as they venture out on heroic quests looking for riches, artefacts or monsters.

As the characters get better at their chosen profession, be it tailor, blacksmith or jeweller, they become capable of creating ever more intricate and powerful items that can be used or sold in the game world.

Typically the time needed by a player to substantially improve the professional expertise of their EverQuest character and to make these powerful items is so great, that it causes little problem in the markets of the game world.

But some people have discovered a very easy way to carry out these time-consuming tasks, and in the process, unbalance the EverQuest economy.

Screenshot of auction, BBC
Use real money to buy fantasy cash
In EverQuest, as in many other programs it is possible to automate common or repetitive tasks using a small program called a macro.

In Microsoft's popular Word program many people create their own macros to search through documents and correct spelling mistakes or to add addresses to letters.

But some EverQuest players found a combination of profession, skill level and macro that turns small cash piles into slightly larger ones.

By running the macro countless times they found it was possible to generate large amounts of money.

Some people even set up computers that did nothing but run the macro time and time again.

Once a player created a large pile of cash they then sold it for real money on the many auction boards and marketplaces, such as PlayerAuctions, that have sprung up.

Recent estimates put the amount of platinum pieces available to buy on just one EverQuest server at more than 3million.

The exchange rate of game money to real money is not very good, 100,000 platinum pieces sells for about $350, but it was enough to tempt many people to try it.

Now Verant, the company behind EverQuest, has started cracking down on people that use the money-making macro and is suspending accounts and confiscating items from people it catches exploiting the loophole.

See also:

16 Sep 02 | Technology
24 Jul 02 | Technology
29 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
19 May 00 | Science/Nature
13 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
03 Jan 01 | Science/Nature
12 May 00 | Science/Nature
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Technology stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Technology stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |