Planet Calypso is in the process of wrapping up its epic multi-week Harbinger event, so Senior Staff Writer Chris "Pwyff" Tom went touring in Calypso to check out what this real-money MMO is all about.
For most MMORPGs, it can be rather difficult to find your own niche amidst the hundreds of other competitors; whether it's through a unique combat system or by weaving a compelling one-of-a-kind story, developers are always vying with each other to make their MMO stand out in the crowd. Standing out, however, has never been a problem for the unique sandbox MMO known as "Planet Calypso," which just happens to be the largest real economy MMORPG in the industry while also holding the Guinness World Record for having some of the world's most valuable virtual items.
To most frugal gamers, however, setting foot in a world where hundred thousand dollar transactions are taking place can be a somewhat daunting experience, so actually checking out Planet Calypso was a project that has long sat on my backburner. Luckily, however, it seems that First Planet Company, the developer and publisher of Planet Calypso, was kind enough to read my mind in advance, and so, on the pretext of checking out Planet Calypso's epic Harbinger event, I got to sit down with David Tractenberg of Traction PR and Frank Campbell, Director of Marketing for Planet Calypso, to see what happens when you mix bank accounts with online MMO gaming.
If you're an older veteran of the MMORPG industry, you may have heard of Planet Calypso and the setting it occupies: Entropia Universe. Planet Calypso is, in reality, the oldest and most established planet of the Entropia Universe, and while most activities take place on Planet Calypso, there are a few other planets that players can visit for fun. From my own understanding of this, other "planets," like SEE Virtual World's recently announced Planet Michael Jackson. fall under the category of "visitable" planets, but they function more as tourist locations than anything else.
One of Planet Calypso's most unique features has to be its tie-in with real world economics. While the MMO itself is free-to-play, all in-game PED (Planet Calypso's currency) is affixed to the U.S. economy at a conversion rate of 10:1 PED to U.S. dollars. In this way, the common analogy has been that users could sell some of their hard-earned loot in the market and then walk down the street to buy themselves dinner with their converted PED. This also allows players to fully understand the value of their purchases and sales without needing to muck about with any complicated conversion systems. It's rather startling to realize that everything you find from enemies, be it ammunition, a sword, or even an animal hide, instantly translates into a few cents, or even a few dollars in your pocket.