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FIFA and Economics

World of Warcraft AuctioneerRecently, a few friends and I have become overly consumed with FIFA 13, an online soccer simulator played on the Xbox 360, PS3, or PC. FIFA has several different game modes but our favorite game mode is called FIFA Ultimate Team. Ultimate team places you at the head of a team where you can form a squad and play as that squad against on, or offline opponents. What is so  such as World of Warcraft or Eve- where Ultimate Team players from all over the globe can buy, sell, and trade any footballer to generate an economy driven by player-made pricing and purchasing. Similar to a stock market, certain players have valuable stock and others do not. The similarities between the Ultimate Team auction house and a real market present evident trends such as supply and demand which can be connected back to our study of economics. But how close do these online simulators come to the real deal?

Surprisingly enough, some games have pulled off very successful artificial economies. An unknown blogger writes, “I’ve studied economics, and can safely say that MMO economies have measurably advanced our understanding of real world economics.” By giving the player the freedom to price an item however they choose, it creates a highly competitive market where equilibrium fluctuates regularly. What adds more competition, though, is a timed auction feature that is found any artificial marketplace from FIFA to Ebay. Especially in FIFA, the timed auction feature allows for drastic changes in equilibrium price daily, since the maximum time you can list a player for is 24 hours. Take for example the picture of Lionel Messi’s stock (ingame) below; one card is listed for 840,000 buy now while the other selected card is listed at 1,000,000 buy now.

Notice the selected card has a buy now price of 840,000 coins while the card being scrolled over has a buy now price of 1,000,000 coins

Notice the selected card has a buy now price of 840,000 coins while the card being scrolled over has a buy now price of 1,000,000 coins

Thus, a “get-in, get-out” mentality is needed if you really want to profit in these games. The methods used for success in FIFA can be very closely linked with the methods used for success in day trading in the stock market. I have learned from experience which players I can buy low and sell high. If I have enough disposable income (ingame) then I can buy several cards of a certain player and control the market price of that player. In other games, take World of Warcraft for example, someone can buy low and sell lower in order to help lower level players to increase their skills. A blogger nails this market exploit when they wrote, “In [World of Warcraft], I’ve driven down wool prices to help lowbie (low level character) crafters” (rpg.net). A rare occurrence to see a benefactor spend in order to help those who can’t necessarily afford to spend. Nonetheless, with such a vast amount of auctionable items in these games, presents endless opportunity for players to make a profit, which I think fully captures the essence of real life marketing.

Games that include an auction house feature develope unique economies that begin the same way that any real economy would. Though it may not be real, the work ethic required to produce profit is similar to that of a real market as well. What we can conclude about video games that include an auction house feature, such as FIFA 13, is that they help us experience a real life market without real life currency. Its nice to know that by playing videogames I can not only make connections back to my studies of economics but I gain a great deal of experience in a field that could possible be a part of my future.

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  1. August 31, 2013 at 2:57 am

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