Dr Eyjolfur Gudmondsson has revealed that the active player population for its space-based MMO Eve Online has hit 245,000 - not the biggest player population for an online game, but because all of those people are playing on the same, unsharded server, it's possible to see the influence that they have over the game.
In a talk at the Games Convention Developer Conference in Leipzig, Gudmondsson - the CCP Games economist - explained that it's possible to see the emergence of complex, large-scale social structures within the Eve universe, most notably with the in-game economy - which matches the expectations for a standard economic expectation for perfectly competitive market.
He demonstrated how that market reacted in ways that real-world financial markets might, with issues such as supply and demand factoring in on the prices of in-game items, and made the point that the population had a huge influence on the development of the game over time.
"We have no idea what's going to happen in the next months," he explained, in reference to the way that the in-game diplomatic relationships are entirely outside of the control of CCP. "We as developers have less idea than the players."
CCP also recently invited its player base to elect a Council of Stellar Management (CSM), consisting of nine member to serve as a direct line of communication between the community and the development teams.
"The CSM and in-game economy are social institutions," said Gudmondsson, who underlined the importance of "unleashing the power of players", and stated his belief that alternate universes such as Eve's are "real, but not reality."
"With emergence you have something much more challenging and immersive than anything the game designers could come up with - you have 50,000 brains out there trying to make a better game," he added.
Gudmondsson also revealed the long-term attraction of Eve Online, noting that 25 per cent of the people that played the game at launch in 2003 were continuing to play today.