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Dec 14, 2003



Black markets, unmistakeable gambling... This doesn't seem like a particularly good move from SOE, unless there's a hidden agenda I'm not seeing.


So i can purchase virtual gambling chips with virtual money - my head is starting to hurt already.



Well, it's a money sink, something EQ has too few of. That the play money involved may somehow trade hands for real money, before or after the gambling play, doesn't really seem all that significant as long as the payout margins aren't better (for the gamer) than those in Vegas and the like. Odds are, they will be much MUCH lower in fact, barring any exploits of course! :) And one thing it will definitely do is drive down the value, in both US$ and platinum, of the items which can be gained from it.

It's by no means the first of it's kind in MMORPGs. AC for example has had a nearly identical setup for years now.


Granted it's not an MMORPG and merely an RPG, but Diablo 2 has an *excellent* money sink very much like this new feature of Everquest. You can gamble for items, spending in-game gold on a minute chance to win a good item. It's the only money sink aside from equipment repairs, purchases or death (all relatively trivial).

Maybe this isn't such a bad idea? It works well in Diablo 2.


If you can trade virtual money for real money with the tacit approval of EQ, I see quicksand in the horizon.
1. How do you separate the people keeping the V cash from the people trading it in for real money.
2. The US and EU have excise tax on winnings on gambling. where this does not apply to V money it will apply to V money exchanged for real cash.
3. US/EU have reporting requirements for gambling winnings - who will be monitering this at EQ
This can be a Customer relations nightmare - Gamble a little and have the IRS knock on your door two years from now stating you did not report gambling winnings and you owe real taxes. EQ being audited and assessed for not paying the excise tax and reporting compliance
and lastly releasing to all gov't agencies the customer lists addresses and credit cards of their players to get the Gov't agencies off there back


Bryan, I realize it's a cash sink. The observation was probably along the lines of: "Players running these do not remove Platinum from the economy, but merely circulate it. The official thing would destroy it instead, so let's make it official."

There are a lot better ways of throwing the random number generator and doing this. Consider UO's Sphinx, which for 5K tells you your fortune and alters your stats accordingly for a period of time - Actually I submitted a similar fortunetelling idea for UO as a whole profession to be developed: The Fortuneteller/Illusionist.

Depending on the level of abstraction you think of it you can view all RPG Virtual Worlds as big gabling houses. Yet If we apply the "If it walks like a duck..." rationale here we come out standing in a lot of hot water. Maybe the EQ folks are testing the waters here.


It may be new for MMORPGs, but nothing new for the entire world of games. Even Pokemon has a sort of in-game casino, where the player (avatar) bets virtual money on slot machines. Many other games do as well.

After all, it seems to me that there are nothing different between betting on virtual casinos to earn virtual money and fighting agaisnt monsters to earn items. The casino is a new feature, it would be fun for some players, and not for some other players. That's it. But at least we can say virtual worlds is becoming more and more like the real world.


"After all, it seems to me that there are nothing different between betting on virtual casinos to earn virtual money and fighting agaisnt monsters to earn items."

Laws vary from US state to state and from country to country, but generally there are distinctions made between games of skill and games of chance, whith the way of settling which fall under which category among the factors that change with jurisdictions. You can ding yourself pretty easily (and badly) if you're found to be running an illegal lottery or breaking gambling laws.

"But at least we can say virtual worlds is becoming more and more like the real world."

For a moment there I thought some particular groups were trying to distance themselves from "the real world". Guess I was wrong.


FYI, Asheron's Call has had a casino for years.


Alexander beat me to it ...

but details on AC's casino (introduced in the April 2001 event) here:



Yet Turbine has not set the track record that Verant has. I hope I'm not the only one seeing something odd here.


I'm not sure I follow your argument DS... Do you mean in terms of selling in-game items for cash? AC doesn't rival EQ's userbase, certainly, but sales of in-game items, especially in 2001, were quite common in AC.

And unlike EQ, AC didn't make auction of in-game items for cash against their TOS.

Interestingly enough, I seem to recall that about the same time Turbine introduced casinos, Microsoft started advertisements for online gambling casinos on the AC start screen (you launch AC from a Zone webpage).


I'm not familiar with the myriad gambling regulations, but I would imagine a salient question might be whether anyone would actually be inclined to gamble for VW currency in an attempt to profit IRL.

We know VW currency has RL value for some people, but I don't understand why a typical gambler would be inclined to gamble for VW currency as opposed to going to Vegas -- if the ultimate goal was to win RL currency. At least you get cheap buffet dinners in Vegas and the house will cash in your chips for you.

And if you really do want to play games in VWs, make real money, and breach your TOS (which you'd usually do if you "cashed in" VW chips) wouldn't it be more profitable and equally fun to play the standard game -- i.e., the one played for profit by Julian and the Blacksnow team?



My thoughts on keeping the Real World at bay -or "at eBay"- and not leet it seep in/corrupt/alter a game would not include an online casino. So on one side AC has a casino, and doesn't punish trading. EQ has so far stood opposite to this in not having a casino and also disallowing auction trading. Now they take a step in the opposite direction (in my mind) by adding a casino. The final step (which neither AC nor EQ have taken) would be to officially buy and sell ingame "chips" like Project Entropia. I relate the appearance of an *official* ingame VW casino to a move that brings a VW one step closer to the Real World. Perhaps I'm wrong there, but that's what it looks like to me.



As you noted earlier, you've got random number functions in MUD/VW combat, so you've already got something like a casino.

And luck is integral to many games -- check out Greg Costikyan's post on Dec 10 re Rocks, Paper, Scissors.

I wouldn't assume the reasons for doing this have anything to do with a move toward a Project Entropia model. But who knows...


I'm not sure the lack of casino cashiers in Norrath is going to be a deciding factor, Greg. An EQ player might not place a bet thinking of RL profit, but once she's won $500 worth of plat, she'll probably give serious thought to cashing it in. The folks at IGE will be happy to oblige, and Sony need never know.

As for why players wouldn't prefer to make money the "standard" way -- are you kidding? What I do, and certainly what Blacksnow does, isn't universally popular, but nobody can tell me it's not work.


Jules --

You're the expert on your current career path, of course, but what's the big diff between the reaction a player might have to a winning $500 worth of coin at the casino vs. 13w+ing a couple of Bone Crushers?

Almost all DikuMUDish VWs are about asset acquisition and incorporate elements of chance as well as puzzles & strategy -- though mainly players seem to alway acquire eventually through repetitive drudgery (requiring any real skill/thought cuts down on the subscriber base).

We generally accept that despite the valuation of Bone Crushers, most people come to EQ to play, not to profit. Sure, you can cash out hard-won chattels/currency/realty/stats for $U.S. (in ways that may or may not violate any given TOS/EULA), but what makes adding a VW casino significantly different from the pre-existing "play"?


"...but what makes adding a VW casino significantly different from the pre-existing "play"?"

Seemingly nothing in terms of gameplay -at first-. But a whole lot in terms of stated direction. If we read the statements from SOE on their change some years back to not allow auctioning we find "farming blocking normal play" and "liability for Scamming/deception" at the core. Creating an addictive sub-environment that feeds off of the products of precisely farming, scamming and off-world sales would seem to at first drain the environment from these products, but then as scarcity sets in (which comes only as a result of heavy usage, which comes with familiarity and addiction of all ranges -from none to psychologically dependent-) will encourage the activities that produced it in the first place - namely: Farming, trading and scamming.
So which is it?


Greg> You're the expert on your current career path, of course, but what's the big diff between the reaction a player might have to a winning $500 worth of coin at the casino vs. 13w+ing a couple of Bone Crushers?

Good point. And my point is: The big diff, such as it is, is that the looter's winnings have at least the fig leaf of a "skill-based play" defense standing between them and the gambling laws. The virtual casino can only plead, as you suggest, the relative illiquidity of its payouts. This doesn't strike me as much of a plea, especially given what's at stake. While the defense for loot-gatherers isn't a whole lot stronger, it does seem to me that regulating monster-slaying would be a greater violation of the game's "magic circle" than regulating Norrathian card tables. That is to say, I may fight to the death to defend your right to fight Arctic ogre lords to the death -- but blackjack? I dunno.


I agree that the casino jackpot can be seen more readily as a game of chance than the Arctic ogre lord-slaying experience. But what I think we really should be talking about here re potential regulation is the proper boundaries of the magic circle. Despite the existence of Bruce and IGE, plat is still not regulated (afaik) as a foreign currency.

We've all recognized (and you and I have discussed) the considerable problems that might arise from legal recognition of the value of standard possesory interests in virtual game properties. In terms of the likelihood of that happening, I don't think the skill/chance distinction is an important element in delineating a meaningful social boundary between gamespace and non-gamespace. After all, Eric's MMRPS game (which you won!--have you read his book yet?) was pure chance. (At least that is how most of us played it.)

So when I think about Clay Shirky's question re what keeps VW economies/societies from being regulated, I don't think it has much to do with the existence or non-existence of casinos which evoke a narrative of chance, but with the fact that these are still treated as *games* and are played as games by the majority of participants. I think your work is, at least currently, an exception to that understanding -- perhaps an ominous one...

Of course, if I were to predict the reaction of a legislator who was in politics prior to PacMan and now hears he can play poker in a VW casino and cash in his chips on eBay--well, his reaction would certainly be less nuanced than mine.


The introduction of casinos in a high profile VW will definitely increase the scrutiny of the public. All you need is one high profile personality to speak against this to spoil the pot. The PR may be worse than GTA!

Next thing you know the political tide will crash towards an age requirements for certain VWs.

Hope this feature will not have a lot of RL$ impact. Else, I think the politicians will find it popular to regulate this activity in VWs and IRS will find it cost effective to tax this activity.


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