Real life dollars buy
"I started hearing about players leaving the game who were selling their assets
at cheap prices," he said, "so I figured, buy low, sell high."
But Rolala found his moneymaking options in FFXI "very limited". He switched to
World of Warcraft. There, he has leveraged his real-life experience into an
online business. He converts his game profits into real money on sites like eBay
and bankofwow ,etc. Earnings can be considerable. He said he was on track to
earn about $120,000 in real money in his first year in this business.
Rolala's business is just one example of how increasingly popular online
role-playing games have created a shadow economy in which the lines between the
real world and the virtual world are getting blurred.
"World of Warcraft", the world's largest MMORPG, boasts more than 1 million
paying users in North America.There are many sites like wow gold free strategics,
teaching gamers how to earn wow gold in game for free, however many players are
still willing to buy gold and weapons to help their virtual characters get a
higher virtual status more rapidly. Some virtual goods in World of Warcraft have
been sold for thousands of dollars. It obviously creates a large real world
Edward Castronova, an economics professor at Indiana University who has written
a book on the subject, calculated that if you took the real dollars spent within
"EverQuest "as an index, its game world, called Norrath, would be the 77th
richest nation on the planet, while annual player earnings surpass those of
citizens of Bulgaria, India or China.
Go to GameUSD, an exchange-rate calculator for the virtual worlds, and do a
search for the latest rates of virtual currencies against the U.S. dollar, and
let your jaw drop open. The rates of some virtual world currencies are even
better than that of the Iraqi Dinar! For instance, here is the recent exchange
rate of several popular virtual currencies: Everquest Plat ($0.54/1K), EQ2 Gold
($0.17/gold), WOW Gold ( World of Warcraft Gold ) ($0.098/gold), SWG Credit
($4.40/1M), Lineage 2 adena ($2.80/1M), Guild Wars Gold ($0.12/1K), FFXI Gil
Right now, this business is one of the most hotly debated issues on the
internet. Many game companies such as Blizzard who run World of Warcraft
discourage profit from in-game properties, though none have found a way to stop
Sony Online Entertainment, on the other hand, encourages the practice (albeit
within the confines of their own "Station Exchange", their own forum for the
sale of in-game properties). It recently announced the first month's figures
from "Station Exchange". According to SOE, over 45,000 characters from "EverQuest
2" have been active on the exchange and have spent over $180,000 USD in one
month, half of which have been spent on in-game gold and platinum.
Despite of different attitudes towards virtual currency trade, the number of
people who are getting into such business is rising, and the size of market has
been expanding very rapidly.The market also creates a competitive environment.
We could refer to sites like GameShopList, a price comparison site, to see the
fierce price competition between different exchange sites.
For some ordinary gamers, however, such a capitalist approach spoils the
experience. Nick Yee, a psychology researcher from Stanford University, believes
many players dislike virtual currency traders because, by using real wealth to
buy virtual power, "they're breaking the fantasy-reality bubble, getting an
advantage in a way that other players can't".
According to a recent survey by IGN, an internet media focused on the videogame
markets, most gamers say they dislike and avoid this business, believing that it
gives players with more discretionary income an unfair advantage.
But such attitudes are called into question by size estimates for the virtual
asset trading market, which is seen having a value of $200 million to nearly
$900 million in 2005.
One potential explanation for the disconnection between attitudes and money
spent may be that gamers are unwilling to admit they use the services, IGN said.
In terms of the law's concern, another issue is, who owns the virtual money?
Many virtual world designers maintain that anything created in the world belong
to the company. They refuse to recognise the rights of their players in the
virtual property for fear of attracting liability for its maintenance or
But will this work in the long term? Players spend considerable time and/or
money acquiring such assets. In many cases they are the creation of the player
and even the intellectual property ownership is questionable. "As we spend more
time in these worlds, it's not enough for companies to say that 'we own
everything and we can turn it off at any time,'" said a gamer. "The question may
soon be should we have recourse against a game company for obliterating virtual
With the rapid growth of virtual currency exchange market, should people accord
virtual property the same protection as property in the real world?
About the Author:
Steven Golden is an online researcher for many MMORPG game sites.