It’s the (digital) economy, stupid | Babelia

On Wednesday we woke up to the news that the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund had bought 5.01% of Nintendo shares. It is about 300 million dollars that will surely come cheap to the sovereign wealth fund. Being as it is the cultural sector that generates the most money, it is clear that buying video game companies (or parts of video game companies) is fashionable. As cryptocurrencies, NFTs, the metaverse are in fashion. Precisely, last Saturday an article in this newspaper intelligently wondered if the delusions of digital grandeur around the aforementioned metaverse, in which there is as much projected money as things yet to be finalized, were not getting out of hand.

But the economy is not only a real-world phenomenon, it also acts as an epiphenomenon in the digital world. In other words, in the same way that there are fantasy books that create their own languages ​​or science fiction movies with their own planets, many games include complex economic systems that the player must deal with. The similarities between the analog and digital worlds are not few. There are games like Roller Coin either LightNitewith which you can earn bitcoins, or the Axie Infinity, whose characters are NFT. But you don’t have to go that far, there are also games (especially online multiplayer) with their own complex payment systems, in which there are developers pending to monitor (and promote) the scarcity that every economic system demands.

Also, as in life itself, there are examples of how the economy can go haywire. For example, final fantasy XIV (payable in gil in the game), multiplayer role-playing most played today has a very real digital problem: by constantly increasing the number of units of the local currency that exist in the game (because they are dropped by downed enemies and because the game gives them as rewards), a well-known phenomenon occurs in these parts. analogue: inflation. The game has serious real estate speculation problems precisely because of this imbalance in its economy, which brings many players who want to buy a (virtual) house and cannot. A separate case is that of EVEOnline, the space battle game with the most robust digital economy, with players really interested in the economic system of the game and a payment system so tied to the real economy that the ships take months to build once they are paid, and every time that there is an attack in mid-space, then the “real” losses generated by the damaged or destroyed ships are calculated. Its complexity is such that the game has received like rain in May the news that from now on it will be integrated with Excel to facilitate the breakdowns of payments and expenses that are made in your virtual world.

It is clear that the 69,000 million euros that Microsoft paid at the beginning of the year to take over Activision Blizzard are very real. Just like these 300 that Saudi Arabia has paid to get hold of its little piece of Nintendo. The giles no, but the frustration of the players who want to buy a virtual house and can not yes it is. Although that feeling should not be worse than that of the investors of the Luna cryptocurrency, who in three days saw their savings deposited in that currency disappear halfway between the real and the digital. Money, which continues to be the greatest construction of the collective imagination, its most perfect creation, has a strangely tight accommodation in its virtual form. The 501,000 dollars that the players precisely from EVEOnline they have raised to help the reconstruction of Ukraine, which estimates the losses suffered since February at half a billion. Because unfortunately wars, as much as we like to put them in virtual worlds, also happen in this other world that is not made of ones and zeros.

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