News, research and discussion on virtual goods, currencies and economies globally.

Laws and regulations

Government rumbles, Chinese virtual money markets stable for now

Tencent QQ penguing mascot with Q coins A couple of weeks ago it was reported (via PlayNoEvil) that China aims to restrict the trading of virtual currencies that have become popular as a payment method even for third-party services. According to the joint announcement of 14 Chinese government agencies including the Ministry of Public Security and People’s Bank of China, virtual currencies should not be used to buy real commodities and can only be traded back to real money for amounts not exceeding the original purchase price, eliminating any opportunity for profits.

This is the most severe notice so far in a series of growing government attention to the use of virtual currencies and real-money trade of virtual property in China. At the time of writing, however, RMT markets seem to be operating as usual. For example, Taobao lists thousands of sell offers for Q Coins, the virtual currency of Tencent QQ. I dug a little bit into Chinese language sources to find out more about what’s going on.  Read more

A Quite Profitable Virus

A worm virus (targeted to steal passwords for the ubiquitous QQ service and other game accounts)with the logo of Xiongmao Shaoxiang (Panda burns joss-sticks), has hit millions of computers in China since November 2006. According to Xinhua, BEIJING, Feb. 13 Police Monday arrested eight suspects involved in producing and disseminating a severe computer virus. It was the first case related to the spreading of computer viruses in China. The virus writer programmed the virus on Oct. 16, 2006, and made more than 100,000 yuan (13,000 U.S.  Read more

Sweden taxes virtual property proceeds… as does everyone else

There’s a story ricocheting in some English language news sites about Sweden’s plans to impose taxes on income from virtual property sales. The original source seems to be Swedish Radio Ekot. The news may seem startling to some, until one realises that such income is already taxed in Sweden and in other countries. From Ekot:  Read more

eBay bans virtual property auctions?

Game asset auctions on eBay - soon to be history? According to an original article on Slashdot, a representative of eBay has confirmed that they are delisting auctions on “virtual artifacts”, said to include currency, virtual items, characters and accounts. Neopoints from Neopets are specifically mentioned, but I wonder if this applies to non-game virtual property such as ICQ numbers? From Slashdot:

Mr. Hani Durzy, speaking for eBay, explained that the decision to pull these items was due to the ‘legal complexities’ surrounding virtual property. “For the overall health of the marketplace” the company felt that the proper course of action, after considerable contemplation, was to ban the sale of these items outright. While he couldn’t give me a specific date when the delistings began, he estimated that they’ve been coming down for about a month or so.  Read more

A Japanese Case for Law Enforcement on RMT

Chinese student arrested after making 150 million yen selling items for online RPG.

It’s intriguing in that gold-farming connection of RMT transactions with other cheap-labor nations is one of important aspects in every regions which have emerging culture of online gaming including Korea.

Some Korean game experts have been saying that the it is possible to lessen intensive gold-farmings by reference to related laws of many kinds.  Read more

Finally, Korean Government to illegalize RMT

According to an article of a Korean newspaper, if a recent proposed bill named “Amendment for Game Industry Promoting Law” be through the National Assembly, all kinds of mediating businesses between in-game money and real money could be punished.  Read more

Virtual business ecosystem in legal trouble? China’s Tencent QQ

An avatar in Tencent QQ Tencent QQ, China’s most popular instant messaging service, has been a big interest of mine since I bumped into it in Shanghai. The service works similarly to e.g. MSN Messenger, except that it has a built-in virtual economy based on “QQ coins”. Pacific Epoch reports that the virtual currency has now raised legal concerns.

Users can buy QQ coins for a fixed price of one RMB per coin from Tencent. The coins can be used to pay for premium features, such as decorations for a chat avatar. Coins can also be transferred to other users. In addition to the official premium content offered by Tencent, third parties have begun accepting QQ coins as a method of payment for their services.  Read more

Making sense of virtual property research

VERN is a forum for research on real-money trade of virtual property, but what exactly does that area comprise? There are over 50 entries in the bibliography, from economic analysis to policy studies — is there any pattern or consistency to this work?  Read more