The studio behind EVE Online calls it the “endlessly scalable storytelling engine.” That’s according to Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games and the project manager who oversees all things EVE. Over the last 18 years, Pétursson and the rest of the team have put together a virtual economy so complex that it rivals that of a small country, like Pétursson’s own Iceland. As well as having a fully-functional bank at one point – which was then robbed by its in-game CEO, who proceeded to illegally exchange 200 billion ISK for real money – EVE experienced its very own short squeeze last year, not too dissimilar from the bizarre scenario we recently witnessed with GameStop.
EVE’s economy is founded upon arbitrage, meaning that profits are generated from simultaneously selling and purchasing the exact same asset in separate markets. In the case of EVE, this was originally accomplished by monetizing literally everything in the game. In the early days, some items were sold by NPCs to facilitate progression, but modern EVE places the onus of creating and destroying objects and resources entirely on players.