“The rent is too damn high in the real world. By George, let’s not repeat the same mistakes in the digital one.”
Digital real estate is not actually a new phenomenon, and history consistently shows that when “digital land” sufficiently resembles the economic properties of physical land, we see digital land speculation, digital housing crises, and even full-blown digital recessions. That means a period of exciting growth suddenly grinds to a halt once scalpers corner precious digital property and keep it out of the hands of those who actually want to play the damn game or perform valuable and productive activities for the community.
Ultima Online, Final Fantasy XIV, and EVE Online are all prominent examples of virtual worlds with sophisticated internal economies that have all suffered from digital land shortages fueled by scalping and speculation. Two of those games are still suffering from land shortages to this very day, but one of them was able to solve their crisis thanks to a quick-thinking economist who took a page out of the book of the 19th-century populist firebrand Henry George.
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