Science fiction: what if game companies could get rich on bots, instead of players?

MVP — Patrick Miller's "game dev short story" — is a cleverly told piece of science fiction about a game dev team that hits on a weirdly compelling, unlikely and eerily plausible commercial strategy: optimizing their game for gold-farmers' bots.

It's a great piece in the tradition of Ben Rosenbaum's The Ant King, Robin Sloan's Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, Austin Grossman's YOU, and my own story, 0wnz0red.

It turned out that while our development teams weren't great at making products for people, they were surprisingly good at building things for bots. After all, bots didn't write scathing reviews or mean tweets or perform stock valuations, so we were free to release the bot-exclusive game content as quickly as we wanted, watch it fall flat on its face as an ever-growing horde of bots tried to play it and failed, and then use their trial and error to patch the bot game live. Freed of the constraints of human players, we became the perfect iterative development team.

The core of our Minimum Viable Product was exactly what we set out to do in the beginning: Make it possible for bots to play a game and spend money. Doing those two things would make a bot functionally equivalent to a real human player when it came to our game health metrics, and thus make the bumps on the KPI charts real — well, "real" when it came to our P&L.

"MVP" — a game dev short story
[Patrick Miller/Medium]

(Thanks, Raph!)

(Image: Irene Koh)