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The Virtual Item Model

September 27th, 2006, By Duncan Gough

Counter Strike, the wise old man of online gaming, is set to take a step into the Item Model of paid-for enhancements to a free game with the launch of the CS Market:

The cost of weapons and equipment that you purchase in Counter-Strike: Source are now based on an algorithm that calculates the global market demand for various weapons. As more people purchase a certain weapon, the price will rise and other weapons will become less expensive.

Starting October 11th, the prices you pay for weapons in Counter-Strike: Source will be updated every Monday based on the volume of purchases over the previous week.

That’s right, in-game terrorists and counter-terrorists are going to have to pay for their weapons of virtual mass destruction. And not only are they going to have to fund their evil acts of terror/brave deeds of rescue, their wholesale purchasing of firearms and ammunition is going to have a wider implication with regards to the economics of supply and demand:

Each week, the total number of weapons purchased world-wide since the previous week’s change is counted. The purchase data is gathered directly from game servers. Every 24 hours, game servers upload a file to Steam listing the quantities of all items purchased over the course of the previous day.

The new price for each weapon is based on the total amount of money spent on that weapon. The percentage of money spent on each weapon during the week is used to determine the percentage by which its price moves the next week. So if 10% of all dollars world-wide are spent on the Maverick M4A1 Carbine, then its price will increase by 10%.

Now that is how you take an isolated multiplayer game has a lifetime of around 5 minutes per round and turn it into a massively multiplayer online game with a virtual world that doesn’t reset itself after every round. By bolting on the CS Market Valve have been able to fill Counter Strike with a sense of permanence. Counter Strike has always been a tetchy place, though, so we’ll see how well this idea takes hold.

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