|January 25, 2008|
|CES 2008 - Entropia Just Might Take Over the Universe|
By Paul Philleo
The spacious MindArk booth was almost completely manned by fans and supporters of the game, not trade show professionals or company staff. It's a rather bold statement of how much faith MindArk has in their game, that members of their player base would represent them at one of the biggest trade shows in the world.
What's always distinguished Entropia Universe from other MMO games and
virtual worlds is the revenue model, as has been discussed
before on MPOGD. The core game experience originates on the fantasy and
sci-fi world of Calypso, but it's more than the sum of the experiences players
can explore, with additional activities such as hunting, trading, etc. In short,
Entropia's economy is fueled by real-cash transactions for in-game purchases,
and the game itself is free to download and to play. It's proven to be a
successful venture, according to Simmons, who mentioned the game has been
profitable for 14 quarters, or three years and a half years. Further
underscoring the association with real-world economies and valuations of
purchases, he reminded me how the game's transactions are fixed to match the US
Dollar's value on the world markets. So no matter what world within Entropia
you're on, the economy is designed to always remain consistently stable and
based on an established currency. The economy, with established virtual property
and transactions, runs by the traditional laws of commerce, even backed by banks
with the capability to collect on loans and seize virtual property. It's not a
game for the weak-hearted, but rather a high-stakes game engaged in by many
people. In fact, MindArk apparently has done so well that they are able to
announce in mid-December that they are going public as a company.
Beyond financial liquidity and the non-traditional interesting expansions, the game has made many other strides forward in the last several months. In July, MindArk announced they'd signed a license to utilize the CryENGINE 2 graphics engine - the same one used in Crysis -- in Entropia Universe. Unfortunately, however, that visually revamped version in development wasn't shown at CES.
With the power of the CryENGINE behind it, MindArk should have all the power it needs to create visually attractive worlds for whatever intent they may be used for. It will be interesting to see how integrated these worlds within the universe may be for travel and avatar movement, such as between a Paleolithic educational environment and a futuristic road racing planet for Toyota. Once space is opened, how easy will it be to travel? To do commerce between the stars? Simmons said with a knowing smile, that "Space travel, like life in the universe, will not be easy. It will be tough." A tough life, as we know, can be an expensive one.
The beehive of activity that is Entropia Universe at CES
Ladies in yellow flanking a media guy at the MindArk booth
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