Hilmar Veigar Petursson
Hilmar Veigar Petursson is an Icelandic entrepreneur currently serving as the CEO of CCP Games, a video game development and distribution company. CCP Games, based in Reykjavik, Iceland, is acclaimed for its massively multiplayer online role-playing game, EVE Online.
Career Beginnings: OZ Interactive and SmartVR
After studying computer science at the University of Iceland, Petursson launched his career in 1996 as a software engineer at OZ Interactive. OZ Interactive, a pioneering metaverse company, benefited from Petursson's efforts in the creation of OZ Virtual, a platform focused on real-time collaboration and creativity in a 3D space. In 1999, the tech team behind OZ Virtual spun off to launch SmartVR, with Petursson stepping into the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
The SmartVR team, with a goal to apply virtual reality (VR) to MMO games, joined forces with the CCP Games team consisting of former OZ Interactive employees. Additionally, Petursson played a pivotal role as CTO at CCP Games, where he made significant contributions to the launch of the revolutionary gaming title, EVE Online. The game's core mechanics revolve around player decisions, including mining, exploration, industry, faction warfare, and illicit replication, designed to allow players the freedom to engage in law-breaking activities within the game.
This player-driven gameplay emerged from a mistake made by Petursson himself. In an interview with PCGamesN, he revealed that during testing for bugs after game development was completed, he realized he had made a serious error. Due to players exploiting the mining mechanics, he anticipated the game would soon come to an end. However, just before attempting to fix the bug, he realized that players were ingeniously filling the empty space in the game, finding enjoyment in it. These players' creative utilization became one of the reasons EVE Online gained long-lasting popularity. Through this experience, Petursson assumed a pivotal role in EVE Online and has been leading CCP Games as CEO since 2004.
Growth of EVE Online and Transition to the Metaverse
With Hilmar Veigar Petursson at the helm as CEO, EVE Online saw impressive expansion, amassing a subscriber base that even exceeded the total population of Iceland. Hilmar was instrumental in the expansion of EVE Online, a precursor to the concept of the metaverse, brought to life in well-known novels such as Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" and Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One". By transforming the game into a free-to-play platform, Hilmar removed hurdles to entry, thereby enabling a wider spectrum of users to participate freely. While EVE Online was initially deemed a tough nut to crack, Hilmar identified that these impediments had lost their allure. The shift to a complimentary model demonstrated its effectiveness with its successful adoption.
In his interview with VentureBeat, Hilmar demonstrated his unwavering dedication to cater to the core user base and broaden the game's appeal. This commitment remained steadfast even following the acquisition of CCP Games by South Korea's Pearl Abyss for a sum of $425 million. He also mentioned two key issues already resolved by EVE Online among the core challenges of the metaverse:
"What Eve offers the most into that discussion is the economy. The economy in Eve is extremely robust. Part of that is the market system. Part of that is how things are created in the world, how basic resources become components, how components become more complicated components, how those components become spaceships, how spaceships take part in acquiring core resources or fighting against people who would take those core resources from you. The fact that we’ve built a coherent, natural resource economy, and it’s been proven over 18 years now — it’s imperfect, but we’ve been fortunate to catch it when it goes off the rails, fix it, and enhance it. That’s the most obvious contribution. There is another less obvious thing, which is Eve is a very harsh environment. It’s the ultimate survival game, in a way. Coming into something where you feel so small and alone, where the world is out to get you, and it seems like all the other players are out to get you as well — when you find somebody who’s not like that, who reaches out to you, that creates true friendships. The fact that Eve Online is such a harsh place is an important ingredient in the way that people take so much energy from their friends that they make in the game. The game offers an opportunity for those friendships to be tested and built upon.” *— “*Hilmar Veigar Petursson: Remembering 20 years of eve online”, Venturebeat
Hilmar emphasizes the fluidity of "labor" in the gaming world, reflecting the real-world phenomenon where people gravitate towards regions with higher labor value. He believes that currency prices should be determined based on economic performance and holds a negative stance on introducing game currencies with universal value. Drawing from experiences with EVE Online and Dust, another CCP Games' title, Hilmar discusses the challenge of managing interlinked virtual economies in the gaming industry. Hilmar underscores that currency value should be dictated by supply and demand dynamics, pointing out the susceptibility of smaller scale economies such as Iceland's. Drawing from Iceland's experience, he emphasizes the importance of collective trust in determining currency value and mentions the trust placed in US dollar bills.
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