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All the excitement around GameStop’s stock has bled into GamesBeat’s discussions around the metaverse. And it turns out that stock market manipulation isn’t exclusive to the physical world.

“We had forms of short squeezes happening in the economy of Eve Online,” said CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson of the MMO’s in-game economy. “It was kind of a form of what’s happening to GameStop right now.”

Petursson joined moderator Mike Vorhaus of Vorhaus Partners to discuss Eve Online’s role as one of the earliest metaverses during GamesBeat’s Into The Metaverse event. Petursson and Vorhaus also discussed what it means to be a metaverse and the growth of Eve Online during the panel.

Petursson didn’t go into specifics about the in-game short squeezes, but added that gamers have manipulated their market in the same ways the real stock market is being manipulated right now.

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“Reality is giving us a run for our money right now,” Petursson said. Eve Online did have a player-made stock market for a short time, but it isn’t currently in the game and hasn’t been available for the majority of its 17-year lifespan.

GameStop is currently going through a bit of a crowdsourced phenomenon. A large group of loosely organized retail traders have snatched up GameStop stocks in order to increase their value. Hedge funds that have shorted those stocks have had to pay up after losing their bet. The situation is ongoing. 

Eve Online’s in-game systems are vast and complicated, so it’s not difficult to imagine how players could use the in-game economy in similar ways. The MMO’s capability to replicate real-world constructs, like religion and the stock market, have been key in making it a metaverse, according to Petursson.

“Eve Online is somewhere between a virtual world and game,” he said, talking about the word metaverse actually means. He combined the literal meaning of each word, “meta” and “verse,” to create a makeshift definition. “Verse meaning a world,” he added. “If you think of a world — a planet is a world. So if you’re building a virtual world, you’re building a habitat.”

Petursson then summarized the “meta” aspect of metaverses as something that exists in multiple worlds. He talked about the friendships, love stories, and rivalries that have come to fruition in the game. They exist both in and outside Eve Online.

“For the first 10 years we didn’t think of it as a metaverse,” he said, adding that their view changed as they witnessed more interactions as the game grew.

Eve Online added 1.3 million new players in 2020, continuing it’s 17-year streak of success. It, alongside games like Ultima Online, is one of the earliest examples of studios developing online metaverses for players to live in.

And as we’ve seen, even a metaverse can be subject to outside manipulation.

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