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The Prince and The Pauper: The Transaction of Virtual and Real-Life Capital

Another common argument against these transactions rests on the game developer's stance as stated in the EULA. Many players feel that it is inappropriate because of copyright or intellectual property issues.

I strongly oppose the buying and selling of game data because it is a violation of the game designer's copyright. Reasons such as 'I'm not selling data I'm selling time' should be allowed as evidence. A knowledgeable legal team needs to find ways to enforce this basic intellectual property right. [Lineage2, M, 43]

I have never been involved in this kind of thing, nor do I judge those who take part in it. It is for the games developers and producers to decide the in game legality of such acts. Some players see it as unevening the playing field, some see it as fair exchange for the hours it takes to acquire these objects. Both arguments have good and sound logical reasoning behind them. [SWG, M, 29]

But skeptics might argue that game developers ban it only because they haven't figured out a way to capitalize on it yet.

I've bought plat for cash in EQ. If I recall, it was 50k plat. As a player who mainly solo'd or grouped in small groups, this allowed me to upgrade my weapons/armor and such to a significant extent. When you have a 40th level character with 20th level equipment, you spend a lot of time dying, and at times it is hard to find groups if you are under-equipped. As for being against EULA, my biggest theory is that the majority of the game publishers who crack down on this are upset because someone else is making money off of them, instead of them. [anon]


Posted on October 10, 2004 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)


Hell I have friends in Daoc who tinker and then sell plat to pay for their accounts every month. Looks win win to me the company gets its subscription and my friends get to play.

Posted by: drixil on October 13, 2004 9:55 AM

If I might add this...

In Macroeconomics, I've learned about the difference between achieved and ascribed. Essentially, people who use this outside economy are viewed as ascribed (people who are born into their profession) rather than achieved (people who enter their profession because they worked for it).

I'd call that the wrong perspective.

Instead, perhaps you should say that people who buy their character are utilizing a different currency from those who work at their character. Real-world dollars versus hours.

Posted by: Michael Chui on October 13, 2004 8:28 PM

Has anyone made comments about groups/raiding groups or outside organizations starting to hit these games for the sole purpose of exploiting the capalistic market of it. Seeing many larger groups and suppostedly organizations coming into games, power leveling up and then constantly camping high end items so no other groups can recieve. These groups then sell these items on ebay and such for rl money.

I dont mind players selling things on ebay, but when it is done in a fashion so no other groups can get into specific zones or camps so people can just make a profit out of it. It does take fun out of the play experience. I think you'd be interested in some of the more asain mmorps and how they are being abused such linage and now linage 2. I have seen this become more and more prevelent in everquest.

Players paying for items only encurages such behavors and makes overal end gameplay less and less excessible and enjoyable for regular game players. Heh, more like a game mafia developed due to a blackmarket. As unbelievable as it seams, it is starting to occur and as it continues and people can make a nice living or wonderful living out of it, it will occur more often.

Posted by: Drew on October 14, 2004 12:03 AM

These games are a recreational passtime. Like other hobbies, you can commit as much time or money to it as you please.

If I want to go fishing, should I be required to make my own pole and dig my own bait? Some people like to tie flies. There are even some that build their own boats. But that level of effort is not for every one that fishes.

Certainly, those that do "make their own" will likely have more skill in its use, and they will gather more respect from their peers. This applies to MMORPG. The server community knows when a particularly uber character has been sold, or when some clod has an item they couldn't possibly have gotten legitimately.

And players can certainly detect when a (less than well-known) character is being played by someone without skill. We call them "ebayed", and it is a term of caustic derision.

Is it wrong? No. But respect and status is earned, not bought.

Posted by: on October 22, 2004 12:51 PM

In regards to the last point, about companies cashing in on "pay cash for game items" thing... well, I've experienced a few smaller MMOGs that have tried this out (or will try it out). Gunbound is a little game with tanks and customizable avatars. The avatar customizations give better stats, enabling you to power up, all that good stuff... and you can pay real money to the company in exchange for special tokens you can trade in for items.

Equally, I've been playing a game called Maple Story. While still early in development, there's an obvious spot within the game interface where they'll be tacking on a shop to let you spend real money on in-game items. Not all avatar customizations are available at creation... so if you want to look unique, you'll want to pay.

Both of these games are free to play (last time I checked), and Gunbound at least seems able to cover costs by selling avatar items. I know I dropped about 50$ on stuff for my friends and I. Something to think about.

Posted by: Pam on January 5, 2005 1:29 PM

Personally I find that the problem with people going out and buying toons with real life money is that they end up with a high level toon and absolutely no idea how to play the game. Does this make it fun for the other people who have to endure their "fun" through dying repeatedly? Of course it doesn't. The time spent leveling a character should be time also spent learning the class and the subtleties of it. I've had to group with these idiots before and it certainly doesn't do the game any good to have to make the choice of whether to be social and have fun grouping or to leave the group because ebay_toon_001 can't get his act together through lack of knowledge.

Posted by: EQ M 25 on January 10, 2005 9:13 AM

Look, the game developers are at fault for creating games with such enconomies. Who needs to spend time staring at an asteroid belt for hours on end doing the same repetatitve task to make some game currency so you can have fun. Trust me this is not a fun activity. I believe the game developers put in tread mill activities and leveling qoutients to maximize subscription returns.

If the games didn't have inherent idiotic repetativie tasks in the first place, the secondary virtual market would not be what it is today.

If you really wanted to blame someone, blame the Game developers for putting in stupid things.

One of the ghastly things I had to endure is the kicking in the barrel to see if it has a drop. After you do it the hundreth time, dont most of you just go my god, could'nt the game makers come up with something different.

Please, MMOG games are insanely idiotic.

Posted by: Its the game developers fault on July 31, 2005 11:43 PM

There's nothing wrong with paying $ for in-game currency, it means you feel your time is actually worth something. It's laughable that people think that I should perform the very un-fun "job" of farming mobs for hours and hours and hours and hours for gold -- maybe that works for you, but not for me. My time is valuable, and if I log in my leisure time to a game I spend money to play, I'm going to spend it doing things I find fun. If you don't like it, too bad for you, because there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

The mark of a well designed game is when people don't feel the need to farm for gold.

Posted by: Gigashadow on August 3, 2005 6:46 PM

The problem with the concept that the people who buy character or equipment or money with time spent RL (earning RL money to buy said things) rather than spending that time in-game to earn them, is that they don't have the experience, the understanding of the game, that getting those things in-game would have provided. If I see a max level character with very high-end gear, I generally assume that they can be trusted to know what their role is and do it properly.

To Gigashadow: I actually find farming very relaxing. It's not especially demanding, and I get some nice in-game rewards for doing it.

Posted by: anon on April 15, 2006 4:09 PM

Do you by any chance have the statistics on the average age of individuals who are using real-world money to buy virtual goods? If not, do you know of anyone who has collected this information?

Many thanks.

Posted by: Tesla on June 17, 2006 9:29 AM

There are some online games that integrate such transactions into their operations. One case is an online game in the Philippines called RAN online that allows players to directly purchase virtual items from the game's operators. It depends on how the gaming company views such transactions and in this case, they've found a way to profit from it.

Posted by: Shem on August 21, 2007 9:45 PM

When someone engages in RMT, they fund the gold-farming market. I've never had a positive experience when engaging with gil-farmers in FFXI, and I've tried being nice to them. In general, the farmers make it more difficult for those of us who want to obtain rare items legitimately. Therefore, when somebody buys gil, that person is making it more difficult for everyone who isn't buying gil.

Also, I can't stand the thought of the big-wigs at IGN and other such sites who are making millions by exploiting other peoples' suffering (because that's honestly what it boils down to).

Posted by: Quinne on July 29, 2008 6:38 AM
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