The "Whale Problem" in Earth2
Economic simulators are a tricky thing from a gameplay perspective. Gameplay mechanics have algorithms in place to drip feed funds back to the player dependent on the amount of development.
Some players take the min/max approach in order to maximize their returns vs. the cost of development in order to push through the rough patches of the growing process, while others just kind of muddle through, and enjoy everything the game has to offer and often struggle to balance their in-game-books.
Then, of course, there are the other players who look up cheat codes to add funds to their total in order to skip the growing pains altogether. There is nothing is wrong with any method of play, games are to have fun after all, so as long as you are enjoying yourself, there is no wrong way to play.
But E2 can't be played, or developed like your standard economic simulator. There is real money tied to the land acquisitions and anything done to the properties.
It's no secret that Earth2 experienced hypergrowth early in the life of the platform, users came pouring in with cash in hand hoping to obtain plots of virtual land. The developers themselves stated they experienced a year's worth of growth much faster than they had anticipated. But did they expect the vast sums of money that individual users would inject into the E2 economy so early? So herein lies the problem. The players with deep pockets have effectively used a cheat code in order to bypass the growing pains. Those who have amassed large amounts of tiles/properties through flipping are included, but they played the early game perfectly. Writer's note: Good on you!
How will the developers go about balancing the economic simulator portion of the platform for players with both very large and very small portfolios?
A solution could come with resources, holobuildings, and essence. Of course we need something to do with the resources beforehand, otherwise the resource market will tank just like the jewel market, but that's a discussion for another article.
There are a few things to need happen for this to work.
1) Essence cannot be purchasable from the platform. It needs to be player to player tradable only.
2) Holobuildings will need to be paid for using essence only. No E$ option available.
3) Holobuildings need to passively collect resources on properties. The option for the collection of resources from the holobuildings to a central repository could function similar to collecting jewels, or converting ether.
4) Resources also need to spawn on the map as "Pick-Ups" for properties without holobuildings, or those properties that have holobuildings that are full. These pick-ups will automatically go to the players central repository.
5) Introduce a "Play to Earn" model for new and existing players.
By implementing this functionality to the platform. This opens the door for some players to further grow their portfolio, as well as bring new players into the mix. These players can actively search around the map in order to collect the resources dropped on properties. Based on land class, the pick-ups would give a kickback to the landowners.
These resources can then be sold in the bazaar for P2P trading, again only if we have something to do with those resources. The "Play to Earn" players can then start building up their own portfolios.
Secondly, this will force the larger players to build holobuildings on all their properties if they wanted to maximize their "passive" returns. If they fail to do so, or run short on the resources needed to build out their properties, they would be forced to either wait until they had the desired resources, or turn to the bazaar in order to purchase the needed materials. In this case, essence would be traded to users looking to build out holobuildings, and resources would be purchased to build out properties.
This is only one possible solution to the "Whale Problem." There are other ways to bring balance to the platform and the writer is certain they have looked at ways to do so, the only question remaining is the method in which they choose.
Full disclosure: The writer of this article does have holdings in E2 upwards of 20k tiles, spread across almost 900 properties at the time of this publication. The views represented by AmucityGames do not necessarily reflect those of E2.News