Friday, February 02, 2007

Ebay bans sale of "virtual" items

GamePolitics.com has the story:

As reported by CNET and other outlets, the online auction giant has announced that it will no longer accept listings for virtual items and accounts for online games like World of Warcraft.

With eBay stepping out of the lucrative real money trading (RMT) business, it seems likely that direct sales from RMT vendors like IGE will see an increase in volume. CNET’s Daniel Terdiman cites estimates that value the virtual goods market as high as $880 million annually.

Personally, I think game companies who try to regulate the markets of their virtual worlds are shooting themselves in the foot. Why doesn't Blizzard sell virtual World of Warcraft stuff themselves? If that $880 million figure is anywhere close to accurate, there must be an enormous market they are walking away from. Instead, they try to shut it down with End User License Agreements, Tems of Service, and lawsuits. I understand that the economy of the game needs to be "balanced", but why not simply take into account the reality of the market when "balancing" your game? Or make a game in which transferable assets like gold and items are worth less?

I like the approach of Second Life: it actually encourages such activity:
One MMO, however, gets a pass on the eBay ruling due to its special circumstances. Players of the MMO Second Life can create items and the game’s user license specifies that players own items which they create or possess.


As for all those people who think buying and selling virtual magic swords and clothes and gold is stupid because the stuff isn't "real", I would point out that options, derivatives, and futures are also "virtual" items. No one turns their nose up at trading those. Indeed, cash itself is something of a "virtual" item: if people stopped valuing it, it would be worthless. Most bank accounts are just bits in a computer, just like your World of Warcraft character. So if anyone wants to rid themselves of those stupid virtual "dollar" items from the financial game account at their bank, I suggest using the Paypal button at the top of the right-hand sidebar.

3 Comments:

Blogger Anthony said...

Money itself is virtual too. It has no intrinsic value beyond the goods that it purchases. Bank accounts are therefore virtual representations of virtual representations. :)

Yes, I still follow this blog. It's my primary source of news about the States now. Rock on.

7:40 AM, February 02, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Good to hear from you Anthony! It's frightening to think that Internal Monologue is your primary window into the United States! What a responsibility that puts on me!

9:53 AM, February 02, 2007  
Blogger Anthony said...

Indeed. Place the responsibilty on the most capable I say. :)

Look at it this way. I prefer a liberal bias to my news and you provide mucho linkages, so you're not entirely doing this alone.

Hope you are doing well btw.

5:47 AM, February 05, 2007  

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