IGE and Gold Selling
To players like me, nothing is more corrupting than selling. In a virtual world
where you are supposed to earn your your status, some people like to take
shortcuts, ruining the game for others (farming anyone?) After my recent post
about what IGE owned, I got a lot of positive emails, thanking me for the info.
With that feedback in mind, I decided to delve a bit deeper into IGE.
In the Beginning
IGE.com was originally used by an imagine processing company. Sometime in the
middle of 2003, the company sprung up. While their original history is a bit
muddled, the creation of the company is a bit quizzical. The company was founded
by Brock Pierce, who was a child actor (his most famous movie being First Kid,
with Sinbad). Originally based in Spain, the company moved to Hong Kong (I have
verified by sources that is where they started). There was an internet
rumor/article that later went on claiming that Brock's former partners (from a
company called DEN) were in fact child molesters. This culminated in the
following vulgar flash video (NSFW).
Although they weren't named in the suit, DEN co-founders Chad M. Shackley, 24,
and Brock Pierce, 18, also resigned. Company officials say they left with
Collins-Rector because the trio is closely aligned and plans to start a new
As a (related) aside, DEN was one of the most spectacular flameouts on the web.
An interesting read is the FuckedCompany board.
So Brock was management in a company that fleeced millions, happened to be in
Spain where Collins-Rector was also, and then moved the company to HK right
after he got arrested? Interesting bit of coincidences.
With that vulgar picture in mind, we take a break, and look at the original
Gold Industry begins with Yantis
Selling virtual currency was nothing new when Brock came rolling in. eBay had
tons of auctions for UO Gold (and still has quite a few). Yet what really got
the market going was a Mr. Jonathan Yantis, of MySuperSales fame.
Originally starting with EverQuest, Yantis (as he was referred to) quickly
became a villain in the game. Looking to broaden his appeal, Yantis bought out
Monkly-Business, which was the favorite hangout for EQ Monks. Gaining more
traffic from this, he then expanded and bought out Luclin.com and Prexus.com
What ensued was a firestorm. While M-B had been left alone, Yantis directly
moderated the newly bought boards. Removing all bad press about himself, and
seeding in threads about how great his service was, the two sites were
completely dead within weeks, all links changing from the original sites to
newly ones created by users. Yantis had tried using his money to buy part of the
market, and he had failed.
This all happened before IGE even existed on the radar.
At this time, Yantis had successfully become the biggest player in the market.
Dominating the marketplace at PlayerAuctions.com (Sony had successfully gotten
eBay to remove all EQ auctions, and thus people used this site instead), he had
also begun to aggressively advertise on other sites. With a 10% commission and a
rumored 40% profit margin, Yantis was sitting pretty.
Then came IGE. Well-financed, the company started making inroads into the
market. A professional service equal to Yantis, they started to gain market
Yantis was not sitting idly. For all the money he (and IGE) were making, their
exposure was still very little. He owned a few sites, advertised on a few (but
none of the big ones), and was paying quite a bit to advertise through Google
and and Goto/Overture. It was with the introduction of IGE that in late 2002
Yantis started playing the SEO game.
A lot of SEO (search engine optimization) can be cast as spam. Stuffing their
page with keywords, buying links from pages with high PageRank, these
specialists game the system so that their sites show up on top of search engine
results. (Please note: A lot of SEOers are great people, who don't spam or whore
sites. But an equally large portion is a shady underbelly of the internet).
Suddenly Yantis was getting tons of traffic from search engines. He even broke
top 10 on google for the word 'everquest', displacing quality sites with his
So while Yantis was rapidly getting new customers, what does a competitor to do?
And so begun a movement engineered by IGE to discredit Yantis. While Yantis was
marked as being an individual using exploits and dupes to create gold, IGE set
themselves up as the 'conscientious' choice, a good and moral company that
didn't employ and farmers and just paid wholesalers.
Yes, I'm serious. The sentiment actually shifted with Yantis being blamed for
all of EQ's ills and IGE looked up as a 'good' alternative.
But that didn't stop Yantis. Far from it. He kept growing and growing. IGE was
also growing (and building contacts with game providers), but was still second
And so this continued until end of 2003. Suddenly MySuperSales went offline. Was
all that money making just a mirage?
Not even close. While I cannot trace it specifically to IGE, the attack worked.
Whois history shows Yantis suddenly moving to Rackspace after the worm was
identified. You can see that Symantec marked its distribution high, so whoever
put this out did a good job. Almost sounds like online rackateering.
But this worm was just a preview of the upcoming fierce battle.
Yantis begins acquiring MMORPG websites
Around New Year's of 2004, while everyone at SOE was busy eating and sleeping,
Yantis announced the acquisition of a few sites. Starting with EQBeastlord and
EQDruids, the sites had suddenly sold out to Yantis. But this time, instead of
moderating the forums, Yantis opted to just stick his banner on the site, and
leave it alone. A smart move - most newbie's would end up just viewing the
content anyway, missing all the bitching happening in the forums. And since he
wasn't moderating the sites, a lot of the links never got removed.
And so began a movement that finally broke down the barrier and made currency
Happy with the results from the first days, Yantis started snapping up websites
left and right. Before SOE even new what had happened, half a dozen class
websites were under Yantis' ownership. And he wasn't done - not even close. Over
the next few weeks, deals were made, only to be broken by IGE waving around
money. The peak (with EQ) came with interealms.com - the largest forum
community, it supposedly went for over $50,000. What made this even more nuts
was that Yantis had already bought and paid for the site. The owner actually
returned the wire transfer and stated that Yantis, enraged with what had
happened, actually threatened to sue him for breach of contract.
Along the way, in continuing to develop its relationship with game developers,
IGE hired Themis Group, an MMO consulting company. After a fierce backlash, the
company removed all signs of the deal ever having occured. Themis Group also
owns the WarCry Network.
That never happened, as what happened next blew most people's minds.
IGE buys out Yantis
In the middle of this frenzy, where Yantis acquired 75% of the websites, IGE
25%, and SOE only moving to help out EQInterface (paying them over $10k/month!),
a stunning announcement came: IGE had purchased MySuperSales.
Announced on January 22, 2004, the rumored value was that IGE had paid $10
million to Yantis. Of course, my sources confirmed this was not true. Instead
what had happened was that Yantis (whose revenue was actually twice that of IGE)
had not only realized that his image was tarnished, but also that with them
competing with each other and the market growing, it was easier (and likely more
profitable) to work together. The end result was that MySuperSales (a brand with
a negative stigma) ceased to be actively promoted. In turn, Yantis became the
biggest shareholder in IGE, and IGE started to use his backend (and suppliers).
So much for the 'Yantis is an exploiter' idea. A funny aside is that IGE had
used a lot of money to lure people from Yantis' side to IGE. These people were
At this time IGE had now become a juggernaut. With their management team (Brock
as deal-making/schmoozing CEO, Alan as the president, Yantis for
strategy/existing infrastructure, and Randy as their general counsel), IGE
continued to grow while devouring its competition.
IGE's only visible competition at this time was Team-VIP. Suppousedly holding
out for a million dollars, the company was suddenly engulfed by fraud and ceased
to exist. The domain and site are now backup again, except this time owned by
At the same time, IGE had continued buying up marquee sites. While snapping up
large sites like L2orphus.com for a reported $5000 (and generating that much in
sales every day), the big payday came when IGE successfully purchased ThottBot.
By far the most popular WoW website, it went for a reported $100,000, with Bill
(Thott) hired at a $100,000/year salary. Not only did this give IGE the most
trafficked MMO site on the internet, it also gave it a lot of leverage against
While all this was happening, IGE was still busy expanding. Hiring
well-connected talent from other companies (such as Stephen Salyer, a Vice
President at both Ubisoft and EA). This was a concentrated effort by them -
connect and brand with users through MMO websites, and connect and establish
relationships with developers through their hired executives.
And all around this time came the acquisition of OGaming. An upcoming network,
IGE's latest purchase continued the trend of buying their way to prospective
gold-buying customers. RPG Holdings was created as a new company that owns all
MMO-fansite assets. IGE began to start advertising in magazines, and worked hard
to hide the ogaming<-->IGE connection, and the Thottbot<-->ogaming connection.
To their dismay, this relationship was exposed.
To further a positive image within the MMO community, a fake interview was put
up on OGaming to push their agenda (this has since been deleted, but can still
be viewed in the internet archive ).
Today IGE stands as a monsterous multimillion dollar operation with a
stranglehold over the MMO gold industry. Some recent events of interest to
IGE made a fake bid of $60k a few months back for a vanguard site just to
confuse/scare Sigil Games.
IGE has acquired key domains, including ffxi.com, daoc.com, mxo.com, eq.com
Yantis leaves the company, suppousedly 36 million dollar payday (but over 3
IGE acquires other companies, including Enotts and ezgaming
Originally working on deals with SOE, Linden Labs, and WB, all three fall
through as SOE launches its own system, Linden does its own thing, and WB sells
MxO to SOE.
IGE continues picking up executives from Yahoo! and Vivendi Universal (owners of
Blizzard) (press page)
IGE, suppousedly bleeding money and unable to afford Yantis payment (estimated 1
million/month) releases him from non-compete. Yantis creates GamerKing, with a
wholesale deal with IGE, and immediately starts stealing away IGE affiliates and
trying to buy out websites.
Mogs and Lewt emerge as new competition, IGE talking to both Mogs and Lewt about
If that isn't enough activity for you, here's the big news:
IGE acquires Allakhazam
The deal happened in complete secrecy in about November 2005. Even many IGE
employees were kept in the dark of the deal that was almost certainly worth
IGE's OGaming had been bleeding money, and IGE was looking for a new website
strategy. After adding gold currency ads to sites like thottbot and Ogaming, IGE
shopped Ogaming around to investers but no one bought in. Thottbot and OGaming
take up over 100 servers.
Working to integrate all of their web properties (Ogaming, Thottbot, and
Allakhazam), IGE today announced plans to create a new super-network, Zam.com.
This new MMO network is being spun to the community as if Allakhazam had
purchased Ogaming when it was himself who was bought out. We thought the truth
should be known.
Read Allakhazam's spin for yourself.
Privacy Statement |