Pehaps you can measure the popularity of an MMOG based on its auction potential. Only days after its late-June 2003 launch, users harvested Star Wars Galaxies for real-world resources: Ebay: Items matching ( galaxies ) and Player Auctions. Most of the auctions are for credits (20k credits on Bria server, etc). Some are for buildings, or accounts.
Browsing the Ebay completed SWG auctions, you can get an early sense of the market value for credits, items and characters. Below is just a sample of some of the more expensive and representative auctions; all auctions listed belowhad only one bid, unless otherwise noted:
10 July - Star Wars Galaxies 500,000 Credits Flurry - $550.00
13 July - Star Wars Galaxies 500,000 Credits Chilastra - $350.00 (12 bids)
12 July - SWG Star Wars Galaxies ST Armor Chilastra - $260.00 (18 bids)
30 June - Star Wars Galaxies Game Weaponsmith Starsider - $250.00
14 July - Star Wars Galaxies Alot Of work On Acount SWG - $197.00 (11 bids)
29 June - Star Wars Galaxies Starsider 50,000 Credits - $125.00
2 July - Starsider Star Wars Galaxies Corellia House - $75.00 (3 bids)
30 June - SWG Starwars Galaxies Bria - 50,000 Credits - $20.49 (2 bids)
29 June - SWG Star Wars Galaxies 5000 credits ANY Shard - $19.95
Star Wars Galaxies features a robust in-game auction system, which should help with the redistribution of powerful items. These early EBay auctions show there is still the desire to get ahead in the game with money instead of time, and some players are happy to trade their hours in the game for cash. Perhaps there will be a glut?
Or a crackdown - Star Wars Galaxies is a product of Sony/Verant, the same company behind EverQuest. They banned EBay auctions for in-game characters and items, based on an intellectual property claim. Somehow, PlayerAuctions.com continues brokering EverQuest goods for real-world dollars, perhaps through their own IP legal language. Some of the early Star Wars auctions contain language designed to avoid intellectual property claims against the item sales. It will be interesting to see if Verant/Sony mounts a legal claim against ongoing SWG auctions on EBay. Star Wars Galaxies' Creative Director Raph Koster has spoken on MUD-Dev about the potentially positive tradeoffs for real-world auctions of MMOG property. Perhaps Sony/Verant designed the crafting professions, item decay, and in-game bazaar with EBay in mind.