I am wondering if there are any books on designing virtual economies.

I have encountered some books which have a few lines or paragraphs written about virtual economies, but they mainly highlight how difficult it is to design and control a virtual economy; they don't give any useful advice on how to design a virtual economy.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I guess you have already read Designing Virtual Worlds by Richard Bartle, it has a chapter (or something) about economy but a book solely written for virtual economy would be nice... \$\endgroup\$ – Valmond Aug 7 '12 at 8:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to look for "economy simulation" search results on Amazon and similar services. While I can't recommend or vouch for any of the results, the "System Zoo" series of books sounds interesting as an overview/starting point. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Sojka Aug 7 '12 at 8:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for a pure simulation or designing an ingame economy in a multiplayer game? \$\endgroup\$ – Mikael Högström Aug 7 '12 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ not pure simulation, in game economy for social games \$\endgroup\$ – Noob Game Developer Aug 7 '12 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Check out this: Virtual Economies mitpress.mit.edu/books/virtual-economies \$\endgroup\$ – Pietro Polsinelli Aug 11 '14 at 12:15

I've been doing a lot of research on this topic in the past several months and have gathered quite a bit of resources that you might find useful. Although I haven't come across an actual book about it, these articles are pretty long (and comes in several parts) so they are pretty close :)

Take a look at these to get you started:

Virtual Economic Theory: How MMOs Really Work - Simon Ludgate

The F-Words of MMORPGs: Fairness - Simon Ludgate

The F-Words Of MMOs: Faucets - Simon Ludgate

Sell Your Money! - Simon Ludgate

Designing For Free Takes More Than 'Just' Game Design - Soren Johnson

MMORPG: Luck or Grind? - Simon Ludgate

MMOs: Just a Matter of Time? - Simon Ludgate

Tips on Developing an MMO Economy, Part I - Radu Privantu

Edit: Removed a dead link.


There is a interesting blog article with a few general ideas to get you started.

I would say on the most basic level you will need money pools and money sinks. (IE a way to earn money and a way to lose it (preferably one that unavoidable).

I did notice a few suggestions on other forums that suggest making everything craftable and controlling only the basic resources directly (Random placements ores, variable drop rates, spawn points moving (to avoid camping). UBER bosses dropping UBER resources not gear so those that like to craft can still make a living by working for the ones that like to fight :)

Another suggestion was to stop higher level players getting hold of lower level resources directly but making them need it for crafting to ensure the new players have ways to make gold.

In general it depends on the game and the level of complexity you want. You have the economist's wet dream at your fingertips you can see every single transaction,trade and event that occurs.

You could dynamically change prices according to the items demand and supply and players trading prices.

As for the actual question i found a answer here regarding users suggestions however can't recommend any myself (I haven't read them).

Hope this helps


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