Entropia Universe’s Marco Behrmann Interviewed at Leipzig GC ‘07

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by Cody “Micajah” Bye

Misunderstandings are fairly common day-to-day occurrences for most people. We’ll say something that seems logical to us, and the person who hears us make our plain statement will blow it completely out of proportion. Even individuals who have known each other for years will have misunderstandings or misconceptions about what they expect from the other person in their relationship. Some of the biggest events in world history have begun through simple misunderstandings between two cultures.

Marco Behrmann explains the concepts behind Entropia Universe and its unique business model.

Misunderstandings were also the biggest dilemma weighing on the mind of Marco Behrmann, CIO of Entropia Universe, as he sat in front of me at his game’s booth in the Leipzig Games Convention. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the game, Entropia Universe is an MMOG that was constructed purely on the idea of a unique business model. In Entropia, every item in the game can be purchased with real money. This sort of sentiment on top of the constant pushing of Mindark that Entropia is a true “virtual world” rather than a game has led many individuals to believe EU is more akin to Second Life than an actual MMOG.

“Entropia Universe was designed from the ground up with game functions,” Marco said. “It’s important – in our point of view – to have that entertainment aspect. When you arrive in Entropia Universe, you take to the road as a colonist in a very gritty, alien world. We want players feeling like they are trying to carve out a new place to live, something akin to the Old West in America.”

“The main thing that separates players in Entropia from other MMOGs is the open nature of the game,” Marco continued. “Rather than force players down a certain path, we’ve given them a whole variety of options and skills in which they can become proficient. If I’m a prospector and I want to go kill robots, I can go do that. There’s nothing holding me back.”

While other games provide item shops, where players can purchase items that are set-up through the game server, no company has ever allowed players to integrate themselves fully into an environment using real world money. “We embrace players who want to use money to buy items that they can use,” Marco said. “We want players to be able to spend money and get items that will help them level up. Everything is available for a price.”

Marco talks with me about the number of skills in EU and how they can be traded.

“You can even buy skills from other players. We have players in Entropia who make their livings selling items and skills to other players, helping them get a leg-up on their online competition. Since we have 240 different skills, players could take forever leveling them up by themselves. Instead of doing this, many players simply extract their skills and sell them to other players.”

On top of using real world money as a type of trading system, Entropia Universe also allows players to withdraw their money out of EU. As Marco explained, Entropia has systems set-up that allow players to purchase goods from other players online in a sort of Ebay or Auction House style environment. From what I’ve learned and what I was told, players can buy basic virtual goods from online NPCs, but they can also look for better deals in Entropia’s auction system. For those savvy players, Entropia Universe can become a virtual money exchange machine, with certain players generating content for other players to buy if they wish to.

So how many players are actually playing Entropia Universe? According to Marco, there are 625,000 registered accounts for EU at Mindark, which is not a number to take lightly. Couple that with an average payment of $23 per month for active players, and you have quite a large chunk of change. No wonder Mindark is a profitable company.
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