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Oct 30, 2004



In the Q&A of that session, I asked Steve Salyer why IGE wasn't concerned that the developers of virtual worlds wouldn't themselves create the tools for the secondary market and embed them within the virtual worlds directly. His reply was that IGE makes its money from speculation, rather than trade. In other words, match-making (introducing buyers to sellers and taking a cut of the resulting deal) isn't as big a part of their business as buying things that people want to sell then selling things that people want to buy.

At no point in the talk did anyone question the legitimacy of what IGE does, which (whether you like it or not) is against many EULAs. Afterwards, I was chatting to Brock Pierce and asked him about this. I had in mind the case of Webzen versus Itembay, in which a court decided that Itembay could act as an intermediary between traders because, although they had signed EULAs that forbade trade, Itembay itself hadn't. Brock referred to the case too, and said that he himself hadn't signed any EULAs. Thus, IGE would be protected from any litigation because it was an intermediary, rather than a participant in EULA-breaking.

Ren, who had been listening to our conversation, at this point piped up, "but where do you keep your inventory?". If IGE were just like eBay, matching buyers to sellers, it wouldn't need inventory. However, as speculators they do need inventory, as they have to keep what they buy; indeed, Brock said they had several million dollars worth of inventory at any one time. Ren wanted to know where it was.

Brock wasn't forthcoming on that point (a trade secret, I guess), except to suggest that it didn't involve IGE or its agents or representatives having to sign any EULAs. I hypothesised that they could do it using free accounts, and Brock rather non-commitally agreed that yes, they could. He didn't say that they did, though.

At that point, unfortunately, I was dragged away by Beth Noveck to be sat on a bus and starved for 3 hours, so I couldn't find out more.


PS: Steve Salyer looks uncannily like British actor Bill Nighy. Brock, needless to say, looks absolutely identical to American actor Brock Pierce.


I hypothesised that they could do it using free accounts...

What's a "free account?" Is it an account that, say, Star Wars Galaxies gives someone, an accountr which isn't bound by the standard, player EULA?


More like a trial account


> This is coming on too quickly.

And then you just let it hang there... :)

To me it sounds like there is something about the magnitude of this rise that is unsettling to you and I am curious if it is from an economist's viewpoint (this can't possibly sustain itself) or a player's viewpoint (the magnitude of this amount of real world currency has the power to destroy the chance to conceive of and implement alternate worlds, (Richard Farmer's and Andy Tepper's ideals and counter examples not withstanding.))

Which is it, or is it a little of both, or something else entirely?



Ian Schwartz>More like a trial account

Yes, that's what I meant (even if it's not what I said). Hmm, maybe that's why Brock looked nonplussed!



Bill Crosbie>And then you just let it hang there

More food for thought: some amazing, high-quality data from Prof. Leo Sang-Min Whang of Yonsei University shows that in Korea the huge sums involved in trading virtual objects (which are on a par with the amounts the developers themselves make - combined) are generated by something like 2.5% of the player base.

It may be that these are done by guild leaders on behalf of their guild members, but still..!



Bill Crosbie>And then you just let it hang there.

It happens too often to be coincidental that when I spend time conferencing on this subject, I get a distinct sense of fin de siecle, almost to the point of melancholy. I have trouble identifying the source of the emotion. Impending loss of some kind.

I guess one way to unpack my reaction to the $880 million estimate, when I run it through my mind, I get two feelings, one involving a sense of confirmed anxieties, another involving a sense of lost perspective. "As I feared; I believed such things would come to pass, and here they come." And, additionally, "here they come already", that is, at a pace so rapid that we won't have time to measure, assess, consider, deliberate, decide. Things are just going to happen.

As for why this sense is negative rather than positive: I don't view the commercialization of relationships around this technology as a universally good thing. The diversity Ellickson (and I) would like to see is not guaranteed to happen. Sometimes, the forces of human development just steamroller ways of life that are quite good. Even if they aren't all that good, they're going to be lost. Actually, I guess I sense that some modes of life outside the virtual world are also going to be lost.

For better or for worse, the world moved on from late-19th century Paris. And we are now moving on from late-20th century America, the world I grew up in. The Cold War, the CBS Evening News, the National Football League, Eastview Mall.


It is amazing how large IGE has become in 4-5 years. I remember when there site use to look like it was a geocities template. Now they have someone like Steve Salyer running the company and an $880 million market. Is that $880 million figure a World market figure? And if you can't get enough of Steve Sayler he will also be debating in AC2004 (http://accelerating.org/ac2004/).

I also noted that Saylor said IGE does not buy currency from cheats, exploits, bots, or corporate sweatshops. Although that usually is not true (for example for normal sellers off the website they limit the amount of platinum you can sell to them as 1 million a day). At the same time I have been involved in the "underground" world of macros, cheats, and exploits. There is a whole community who tries to find cheats, dupes, and macros in these games so that they can run their 30 computers in the basement and make a quick $50,000 that month. For a programmer that makes $60,000 a year, if they can find a quick exploit such as a tradeskill item which the parts can be bought from a vendor, combined, and then sold back to that vendor at a profit (these actions are them done 24/7 at super-human speeds on 30 computers), they can easily make over their salary in that single month depending on the exploit and how many other people know about it (supply/demand).

For those with large dupes or macros IGE has been known to bend the rules and buy bulk currency from them (sometimes at super low rates, other times loan/commission based).

When IGE/Yantis were competing there was even more of this as if IGE could find a player with a dupe they could control the market and take it from Yantis for a time. I have also known IGE to try to contact SOE and help them shut down rampant bugs and dupes that were killing the EverQuest economy.



"Although that usually is not true"

should be

"Although that usually is true"


I think a little skepticism is in order here. You say we have no reason to doubt the $880 million figure. Do we have any reason to believe it?



Staying under the radar is every businessman's forte.

Spreading out 1 million amongst several different accounts would easily let someone sell to IGE, sweatshop, cheat, or what have you.

As for the 880$ million .. it might be feasible and is worth investigation ($880 million worth!).

If we assume, 1 million 'full time' (30-40 hours per week) users world wide, that means there is about $880 per capita.

This seems feasible to me.


Brian Whitener>I also noted that Saylor said IGE does not buy currency from cheats, exploits, bots, or corporate sweatshops.

I think the formal position of IGE is that they don't knowingly do so.



Brian> I also noted that Saylor said IGE does not buy currency from cheats, exploits, bots, or corporate sweatshops.

Actually, I didn't want to press this in the conference, but these kinds of statements are unquestionably disingenuous and misleading. Saying things like this, in my view, is the one thing that really imposes a barrier between IGE and the legitimacy they seem genuinely to want.

In economic and social analysis, assigning causality requires you to contrast two carefully-constructed hypotheticals, with the only essential difference between them being the presence or absence of the thing whose causality interests you. "A: The world with IGE" contrasted to "B: The world without IGE". If A has more gold farmers than B, IGE has caused gold farming to increase, regardless of whether or not they directly pay/condone/solicit gold farmers.

I think this is indeed what's happening, and IGE ought to take ownership of that. IGE's success is entirely due to the market-making efficiencies they have realized. Before IGE, eBay was the rule, and there was a certain risk of fraud, loss, or quality considerations (the Lemon Problem, Akerlof 1972). With IGE, buying gold is like buying bread at the store. IGE's business seems to have taken off. And, as a result, much more gold is being bought and sold than pre-IGE.

Because IGE has made the gold trade much more efficient, there's more gold trading. Because there's more gold trading, more people are leapfrogging the onerous treadmills, and more people getting some hard-earned dollar-wealth out of the accounts they put so very much time into. These are both good things, and Steve Salyer is correct to say proudly that IGE has enabled them. But, undeniably, there's also more farming, inflation, twinking, and cat-assery in general because of IGE, things that IGE denies having any influence over. I would respect IGE more if they, instead, simply admitted that there are also negative consequences of commercializing virtual worlds - on gameplay, on macro-level economic statistics, and on the probability of intervention by the IRS and the lawyers - but that they, IGE, believe that the good outweighs the bad. I think that case can be made for a very large number of worlds, though not all, and it needs to be said.

But with the industry becoming more and more alarmed at the way monetization creates links to the real world, with liability and tax implications, IGE will continue to face serious PR problems that could eventually hurt business. Philip Morris now spends money promoting tobacco-abstinence, especially among teenagers. Their campaigns don't ring credible today, after a half-century of denial about the addictive effects of the products they make. At this point, it's money down the tubes. But had they done this starting 50 years ago, they might never have faced the multi-billion-dollar lawsuits that are now crushing their business.

Thus it might be strange, but perhaps the wisest thing for IGE to consider would be a policy of direct corporate philanthropy, with the aim of promoting non-commercialized virtual world building. Partner with a publisher, a developer, and someone like Randy Farmer to implement an external-market-resistant economy. If IGE believes, as I do (and as Prof. Kim's evidence from Korea showed), that most players probably want some kind of external market, this would not kill their business model. But it would change the way people think about IGE, and greatly increase the likelihood that a future developer would want to partner with them to implement external trades in a way that the IRS can't touch. Good fences make good neighbors, and by helping to make the magic circle more solid in some places, while continuing to pursue their business in places where the magic circle has gone porous by popular demand, IGE would reveal themselves to be what, in private conversation, they always say they are: not businessmen at heart, but gamers, like the rest of us.


I think IGE's real problem is that the way they do business requires them to get into bed with people breaking the EULAs. They are the equivalent of a pawn shop that knowingly traffics in stolen goods.


Oct 26, 2004
IGE gets more press:
Material gains from virtual world

Some things to look at:
"Hong Kong-based company IGE is one of the biggest dealers in this business, turning virtual money into cold, hard cash -- their revenue is more than U.S.$1 million a month."
"The company's customer base is growing, particularly in Asia.

But Brock says there are some major problems within the fledgling business that his company must tackle, including fraud.

"I remember one night back when were first starting up. (We) went to sleep and the next day when we woke up, we had lost US$250,000 worth of inventory. It's not for the faint of heart."

I imagine they lost the $250,000 from SOE bannings. Sometimes when some exploits, dupes, macros get out of control SOE will ban not only the macroers, but will trace the plat and ban whoever is holding it (in this case if IGE bought it.. it means they had "tainted" accounts and any accounts that were tainted would be banned). This is one of the reasons that IGE now uses numerous accounts and will only take a minimum amount of platinum per account.

You know when SOE does a mass banning when one day prices are extremely low and the next day they are sky high.


Newsweek: Gray Market

There are now more than 200 companies working the field, with total yearly revenue officially estimated at between $83 million and $415 million. The largest, ItemBay, has 1.5 million customers and as much as $17 million in monthly revenues. As for accusations that these trades abet cheaters, ItemBay manager Chung Sang-Won says, "It is not illegal and we are doing nothing wrong. We're just providing a service people want and need."

Those numbers also seem to just be Korean?

I can believe the $880 million if it is a World Wide figure. The United States relatively is not that big of a market.... yet.

As Themis Predicts in 2014:
"The market as a whole is sized at $9 billion in the U.S., with membership fees at $4.2 billion, service fees at $0.9 billion, and virtual property transactions at $3.9 billion. MMG operators capture approximately $5.7 billion of this revenue."


I'd like to personally thank Richard for asking the questions I'd wanted answers to during that session!

I was, however, not totally convinced with the answer given regarding how IGE attains its content to resell to others. Contrary to what was said (and without going into details) I can say that some of various reselling companies, including IGE, have used providers who often use some rather suspect, if not completely illegal, methods when acquiring inventory.

Because games like Lineage 2 run on an economy, I would like to see that a provider has some power to prevent this, as it can have some rather disastrous effects on the game. At the very least, there certainly needs to be some accountability on their behalf.

It was interesting to see all of the different views during the conference when it comes to who should be responsible for regulating that activity. After getting the input from the panel on virtual world governance, it seems that we are a ways off from having true legal interpretations of VWs, which also means that companies like IGE will get to essentially operate in a completely unregulated arena for some time to come.


...which also means that companies like IGE will get to essentially operate in a completely unregulated arena for some time to come.

Frontier economics?




Online casinos ? Is that a fair comparison ?



It's been so long since I had a trial account, my memory may be hazy, but don't you have to agree to the EULA to use one?


The 30 day trial accounts just gave you a CD key. To access the game (EverQuest at least) you still had to log in and click accept on the EverQuest EULA. If you really wanted too you could do some client side editing and skip the EverQuest EULA so that you would never have to click the accept button (or at least change the EULA text so it would say something like “If you are having a good day click accept!”. I doubt that would stand up in court, but would an EULA?

To sell plat to IGE they log in a character and send you a message such as "Hello Brian, I am here for the pick up." To verify that it is really IGE you can ask them questions such as what is my e-mail (and they will give it to you since they have it when you placed the sellers order). If they log into the game I don't see how they can say that they didn't agree to an EULA (unless they bypass it, but then they are knowingly breaking the EULA to bypass it). Either way I am just guessing, I have no idea. I think the larger question would be can EULA's really be enforced?


I was also on that panel and I was surprised that he would commit to the figure. I believe it encompasses all markets including the Asian ones. IGE is betting real money on this industry as you could tell by the large number of senior executives that attended SOP II and their spiffy new headquarters with views to Central Park and Times Square.

To repeat a point I have been making in my papers, I think that developers have to be very careful if they want to avoid a secondary market. If a player has a reasonable expectation that their items have value, the developer has already lost control over the virtual property. Perhaps one of the ways they can minimize secondary markets for the people who dislike them is to have alternative servers so players opposed to eBaying will largely not have to worry about it. I also warmly endorse Randy Farmer’s attempt at developing an eBay resistant economy. It is only through experimentation that we will find out which VW models work best. These experiments will be fascinating and thought-provoking attempts to establish alternative game rules.

- Ian


Ian MacInnes>Perhaps one of the ways they can minimize secondary markets for the people who dislike them is to have alternative servers so players opposed to eBaying will largely not have to worry about it.

Wouldn't it be great if this happened?

Unfortunately, slapping a "no eBaying here!" label on a virtual world instance is likely to have no more effect than does putting the same language in the EULA. Why would eBayers respect a server ban for EQ any more than they currently do a virtual world ban for EQ? Why would the arguments they currently use for why they can buy and sell not still apply?


PS: Is your and Prof. Whang's paper available on the net anywhere? I'm already getting people asking me where they can find a copy.


Ian Macinnes & Whang's paper is available on the site as follows.


Relating to conclusion in the paper, IMHO, the analogy of Kremen v. NSI case on domain name disputes might be applicable to SL-like VW, but not Lineage-like MMORPGs where hunting prevails while crafting rare, creating none.


Misspelled! I'm Sorry, MacInnes.


Richard: Why would eBayers respect a server ban for EQ any more than they currently do a virtual world ban for EQ? Why would the arguments they currently use for why they can buy and sell not still apply?

Has this been tried already and shown to have failed? I suspect that at the limit you would essentially have no market. There might be a few people who are engaged in these activities but since the vast majority self-select onto the server that “bans” real world trades the people who are trying to eBay would have much lower impact on other players’ fun and on the design goals of the developers. While you are correct that it wouldn’t eliminate eBaying I think the remaining amount would not be noticeable. While I can’t speak for IGE, I would be surprised if they would even support such trades, given polite relations with the developer.

Thanks Unggi for linking to the TPRC conference paper.

- Ian


Richard: PS: Is your and Prof. Whang's paper available on the net anywhere? I'm already getting people asking me where they can find a copy.

I am happy to email any of my papers to whoever wants them.


According to the inspection of the Korean government offices(Ministry of Culture and Tourism, KGDI) conducted by the National Assembly this fall, It is estimated that the scale of secondary market is around 530$ ~ 730$, and the numbers of in-game item trading company is about 130~180 at present in Korea. In view of interindividual market, the scale increases around 880$.

Lawmakers ask for the government taking package of measures to minimize the side effect.


Matter-of-course, each number in my above posting is 'million' unit.


Unggi Yoon>Ian Macinnes & Whang's paper is available on the site as follows.




Ian MacInnes>Has this been tried already and shown to have failed?

Not that I know of, except in the sense that trying to stop people from trading in virtual objects by banning it in the EULA has been tried and failed.

>the vast majority self-select onto the server that “bans” real world trades

I don't think they would. Many of the excuses that people typically offer for wanting to trade in virtual goods/characters still apply:
- So you can play with your friends after having been absent for a while.
- To rebalance your party, eg. if you have one-too-many healers and want a mage instead.
- To get hold of something that farmers have monopolised.
- To look like you've achieved more than you really have.
- To make money.

>While you are correct that it wouldn’t eliminate eBaying I think the remaining amount would not be noticeable.

It's very noticeable now, even when only 2.5% of players are trading vigorously.

>While I can’t speak for IGE, I would be surprised if they would even support such trades, given polite relations with the developer.

IGE supports trades in games that explicitly ban trading in their EULA. A lack of polite relations with developers doesn't seem to be something that gets in the way of commerce.



Was looking at this old wired article Boring Game? Outsource It from 02:00 AM Aug. 24, 2004 PT.

Some things to note:


"For example, entrepreneur Valery Markarov said he pays workers in Russia a base salary of about $100 per week to earn in-game money, which Markarov then sells to Internet Gaming Entertainment, or IGE, the major seller of virtual goods. Workers get paid more as they're more productive, though, and could make up to $500 a week, he said."
"Automation, though, is generally considered cheating, and is frowned upon. IGE CEO Brock Pierce said the company cracks down on suppliers whose volumes imply they're using bots. That leaves the other method: cheap labor.

Pierce said he knows of other companies like Markarov's that employ play-for-pay gamers, including one in China and one in Singapore. But hundreds of others from those regions supply goods to IGE, either as individuals or more informally organized groups. "


It seems like they acknowledged corporate sweatshops as a source of currency at this time. As IGE becomes larger and more professional their policy seems to be rapidly changing (for the better). I think that IGE is really trying to turn the business around and make it a bit more respectful. The market right now is still a bit "shady" since it is largely unregulated and breaks gaming companies EULA's (a good analogy was to the online gambling market). IGE now owns some nice offices (25th floor on Carnegie Towner, NY) and recently launched an updated more professional looking website. As the secondary market for virtual goods increases hopefully it will become less shady. The progression of professionalism has steadily increased from:

Ebay ---> Playerauctions (decrease?) ---> IGE & Yantis ---> IGE & Yantis Merger ----> ?

It seems that increased developer sponsorship and acknowledgement of the secondary markets is coming next as is larger corporate investment and funding.


Brian Whitener wrote:
The market right now is still a bit "shady" since it is largely unregulated and breaks gaming companies EULA's (a good analogy was to the online gambling market). IGE now owns some nice offices (25th floor on Carnegie Towner, NY) and recently launched an updated more professional looking website.

Wow, is that all it takes not to be shady? Nice digs and a pretty website? I thought it had more to do with the way you run your business myself. Enron sure had nice digs and I'm sure had a nice website, but were shady as hell.

As long as IGE acts like a pawnshop that traffics in goods of dubious legal origin, they are going to be looked at as shady by at least some people.



I tend to agree with Brian on this one. IGE has been giving all of the signs of being a legitimate business. Many developers are not concerned about EULA violations because they see IGE as a potential partner. While eBay trading is done by a small minority of players at any given time I believe that most players do not care whether eBaying takes place. The hardcore minority who do care have legitimate concerns but I think that these concerns are best addressed through innovations by developers (e.g. KidTrade) rather than shutting down the secondary markets which, as we all know, is not going to happen.

- Ian


Ian MacInnes>I think that these concerns are best addressed through innovations by developers (e.g. KidTrade) rather than shutting down the secondary markets

Developers may be innovating to address these concerns, but the point is they shouldn't have to. If people went into art galleries and started taking photographs of paintings which they then blew up and sold as posters, OK, well the artists could subvert that (eg. by adding textures to their paintings); the thing is, though, they shouldn't have to.



From an inside source, I can say that number is spot on for the world market in terms of revenue earned.

In terms of valuation of goods changing hands, then its a much much larger number.

The market is a *lot* bigger than most people will admit to. Almost like sex was a very taboo subject, buying plat or associated currency seems to be a huge taboo ... a 'dirty secret' of many.


Speaking of IGE:

ok fancy new website...great
Unable to buy or sell credits for the past couple of weeks on SWG....not great


Two points.

One, I'm not sure of the "small" label for the Western market anymore. In talking with fellow western gamers on-line I'm starting to find a majority of people admitting to having bought something. Even if it was "only once" and "they felt bad later", I am finding more buyers than non-buyers. Its quickly becoming the norm. I'm with AC on that - but only with gamer-to-gamer info.

Two, speaking as an ex-business owner and strategic planner (non game industry) I think its also a matter of time before the game publishers, or whatever entity runs the live environments, starts offering the same services as IGE. The company managing the game live would easily have a greater profit margin than the resellers as they don't have to pay players for the content they are going to sell.

Once it becomes more accepted in the western market among players, and I think thats very much on the horizon. The current trade-off of losing customer confidence for revenue will be less severe. As soon as a live production team coulds make more in, lets call them "content sales" than they would lose in disgruntled accounts, the idea from a business standpoint can and should be looked at. The numbers that the revenue stream is potentially this large should be getting attention. Under this scenario, a no "content sales" server does become viable, and a nice tool to offer the segment of the customer base that might be offended if the company provided them with this "service".

If the game company itself does the "content sales" this hurts the sweatshops, botters, exploiters and even casual players that wouldn't mind some extra income when they quit. For the most part, thats a segment thats harmful to the game. It helps the same segment thats currently the market for purchased content. These are likely customers who are invested in the game - in more ways than one ;). It also decreases the incentive for players to exploit for cash. The one downside I see is that it makes the potential for mudflation enormous.

Am I off my rocker here?


Hechicera wrote:
Am I off my rocker here?

No, you're not. Some companies (like mine...Iron Realms Entertainment, or Sulake (Habbo Hotel)) already do it as their primary business model. EA sells pre-rolled, somewhat advanced characters in UO. Second Life sells land.

You're going to see a -lot- more of this, as it simply makes sense for both gamers (once some of them get over their "It's ok to use free time as a currency but not money!" bias) and for companies running the games.

I tell you, NCSoft would have gotten a lot more than $15 for one month of subscription + cost of box if they had sold things to help me level faster.



So then the question remains - how do companies like IGE actually build a longterm business model when it is almost inevitable that game companies will get into the action themselves? What can they offer that game companies would not?


Game companies have a hard enough time running the gaming service. Running a market on the side is a specialized niche. Look, even with the massive Asian games, where developers and game-managers are different entities (the latter seeing themselves almost more as a web portal than a game company), the manager-companies still let ItemBay handle everything. IGE is a natural target for anyone wanting to outsource this stuff.


IMHO, it doesn't matter whether the live team and the dev team live under the same roof or not. Its a live team issue. So, I see it as viable from a business standpoint in either model. The bigger issue would be the greater resistance of the western consumer, and some segments of the asian base. FFXI is having a huge backlash on Japanese sites right now, so its not 100% accepted in either major market I don't think.

And this isn't outsourcing. In outsourcing you still get the benefit of the revenue, you just don't do the work in house. Hopefully the company doing the work for you can do it at a greater profit margin than you could in-house. This is just the live team completely missing a revenue stream that:

- is now proven to be large
- is accepted in some markets
- is rapidly gaining ground in the rest of the markets
- they can do at a greater profit margin in-house than the current company doing the job (assumed - question that below)

I can't think of a company (non-game) that wouldn't be looking at ways to offer the service and tap the revenue stream in the above scenario.

Not only that but if the game company offers the service themsleves, since they can produce the item being sold for almost no cost, could they engage in predatory market undercutting to force the other "content sellers" out of business even? Is this a horizontal monopoly?

Another curiosity point. Would the cost of having employees associated with the live team at pay scales consistent with where the live teams work ... be more than the cost IGE incurs in buying the items from third-party outfits that employ people for very low wages, or in the case of casual sellers, a person trying to get $50 out of his/her items when they quit the game puts no employment value on thier time in the game aquiring those items.

Also, one service that the "content sellers" provide is the buying of content - not just the sale of it. Its not a good thing for the game when the suppliers are botters, exploiters or people leaving (as you'd want items to leave the game for mudflation control). So, is it feasible for the live team to buy items and in-game currency - primarily from player's leaving - as a way to also drain items from the game economy and offset the mudflation by the new content created to be sold. If the purchase and sale price points were set properly, I would think it might work. You would assume that it is now, for current "content resellers" to be as profitable as they claim, then they must be buying content at a much lower cost than they can sell it for.

And on that note, the average player is rapidly becoming aware of the two price points. Why sell to, for example, IGE for thier buying price if you can sell to an in-game aquaintances for IGE's selling price? Or, even slightly undercut IGE as "a favor to your buds"? I am seeing a LOT of this in-game right now. The dollar value of this activity isn't tracked and is likely above the numbers being touted by the current reseller companies. So, I would think, this is even bigger than it appears.

If it constitutes a horizontal monopoly, and the live team is prepared to engage in predatory pricing as well as handle both buying and sellig of content .. I don't see how a current content reseller could stay in business. But, I'm not an insider or savvy on thier internals. And there may be flaws beyond consumer acceptance and mudflation for the live team that I'm just not seeing.

Then again, maybe I'm just up too late with the flu posting in places I probably shouldn't. ;)


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How about game developers offering various levels of license to subscribers?

If you are an individual or broker who will be selling digital inventory, your subscription charge will be higher than that of a normal player and your right to capital expressed in the EULA pursuant to cetain exemptions.

It will remove the threat to subscription argument expressed by sceptical game developers (Im not sure what the empirical evidence is on this anyway.) Brokers cannot claim they are not subject to a traditional EULA If there is a broker specific one available.

Analogous to choosing a RPG faithful server, brokers will have access to 'trading friendly' servers. Through regulation, game developers can gain capital lost through subscriptions and preserve the normal gaming experience for purists or beginners.

If brokers contnue to trade unlicensed in 'purist' servers they will find themselevs without legal recourse when they are tracked down by the game developer. IGN is sucessful because it is a trusted service, but if it operated in open violation of license agreements and purchasers would be opening themselves up to losing their right to access and virtual inventory, these companies will be forced by market forces to submit to regulated and licensed trade.

I can see the 'right to capital' from digital assets that are the product of 'time and labour' as not being in conflict of Copyright law. (I may be wrong, but If the digital assets are not copied, or extracted from the server how does it conflict with the rights and obligations of copyright law?).

So, I can see the solution for game developers existing in redrafting their contracts. The subscriber has a 'right to use' subject to the terms of the EULA, so is the idea of 'ownership' purely a popular fiction?

I appreciate the concept of 'ownership' has been seen as a bundle of various associated rights (Honore) and can see the 'right to capital' as potentially distinguishing the difference beteeen ownership and rights without ownership. Yet, If the game developer concedes their control over this, are they really opening themseleves up to liability.. Can they shut their servers down when they become unprofitable?

I don't think gamers will have a leg to stand on unless they progress from being 'users' of digital content to becoming 'designers' themselves (As in Second Life).

Could such users not purchase the game after it has become unprofitable for the original game developer?

Some throughts.




Have you recently checked IGE`s website? It says there under 'about':
"Some experts believe that the market for virtual assets will overcome the primary market—projected to reach $7 billion by 2009—within the next few years."
I wonder who these 'experts' are.
I also found this article in the Korean Times where it says the RMT market was estimated by the 'Korea Game Development and Promotion Institute' to have reached $ 1 billion in 2005. Where are we now?

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