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

Virtual promises are easy to break


Robert Bloomfield posted a story at Terra Nova with the rather dramatic heading Financial Market Meltdown in Second Life? It's a description of unfolding events that demonstrate how difficult it is to create security markets in virtual economies. Securities are essentially promises: exchanges of money now for money in the future. Problems arise when someone fails to keep their promise.  Read more

EVE Online Appoints In-World Economist


EVE Online For a while now, there has been talk of CCP Games hiring a lead economist to produce economic information about the massive game world of the space MMOG EVE Online. The appointment of this "Alan Greenspan of the virtual economy" was announced this Tuesday.  Read more

Diablo II economy in chaos as Ladder season ends

Diablo II Diablo II is a game released by Blizzard Entertainment in 2000. In the game, the player travels in the world of Sanctuary on a quest to defeat the three prime evils, Mephisto, Diablo and Baal, while fighting their demonic minions along the way. The original game ended in defeating Diablo, and the quest of defeating Baal was added in 2001 as part of the Lord of Destruction expansion.  Read more

Plans to link the internal markets of Second Life and Entropia Universe announced


Anshe Chung, proclaimed "the virtual Rockefeller" by Business 2.0, has published plans to launch an inter-virtual world financial market, linking the internal markets of Second Life (SL), Entropia Universe (EU) and IMVU. The public launch of the service is set at early June. As I understant, the service makes it possible for e.g. users of SL to use their Linden Dollars for purchasing shares of portfolios consisting of EU assets.

The press release states that RMT is not involved. A possibly related piece of old news: Chung got one of the EU banking licenses a while back.  Read more

Bad RMT vs. Good RMT


Korea Times and Terra Nova's Korean correspondent Unggi Yoon write about Korean lawmakers' plans to carry out a regulatory precision strike on Bad RMT without inflicting too much collateral damage on Good RMT. The problem is defining what is acceptable real-money trade of virtual property and what is not.  Read more

Second Life moves to China, becomes family friendly?


Shanda, one of the leading MMORPG companies in the world, plans to create a new service similar Second Life. This was reported today by Financial Times, quoting Shanda's founder and chairman Chen Tianqiao. According to Chen, the Nasdaq listed company wants to diversify away from fantasy worlds, but he wouldn't say anything about release dates.  Read more

The Q Coin secondary market in practice – with screenshots


Tencent QQ show Last month I blogged about how the virtual Q Coins are being traded for real money and used as an online payment system in China, and how the Chinese government has reacted to this. In the comments section, one Boaz Rottenberg provided some additional details and also offered some disagreeing views. In particular, he wrote:

There is no secondary trade going on in Q Coins in the open market. The currency itself is not transferable through QQ's platform and definitely not cashable by QQ. [...] From my findings, I believe all real money trade in virtual currencies in China is in gaming currencies - mainly WoW gold.

In this posting, I describe how Q Coin secondary market trading (or one facet of it) works in practice, and illustrate the process with some screenshots. I also provide some figures from a trading site. Many people have seen the news articles about QQ, but for most non-Chinese speakers, this is probably the first glimpse of the actual Q Coin market.   Read more

Virtual property in television shows


Concept art from Virtual Me by EA/Endemol This Monday, Electronic Arts and the television production company Endemol announced a partnership to develop a concept they call Virtual Me (press release). It basically sounds like an online service where you can re-enact popular TV shows with other users using personalised avatars. Endemol is responsible for formats such as Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. In a similar effort, MTV last year launched Virtual Laguna Beach, a virtual world based on a "reality" TV show.

To some extent, the sudden interest in turning everything to avatars and virtual worlds may be due to the Second Life hype. But there is also substance to it. In the teenage virtual world Habbo Hotel, re-enacting television shows has been a popular pastime for years.  Read more

When scarcity is threatened

Cosplayers (CC) JanneM An executive from Shanda Interactive has been handed a sentence in a Chinese court for creating virtual assets out of thin air and selling them through accomplices to players. This is according to PlayNoEvil's report of a story in China Daily yesterday. The copying took place in The Legend of MIR II, a popular Korean MMORPG operated in China by Shanda.

The story helps to highlight how the value of virtual assets is often based on their artificial scarcity. Many virtual assets are positional goods, meaning that their value is derived not from their absolute attributes, but from the relative advantages they confer compared to other goods of similar kind.  Read more

MMORPG players can pay with blood


We have all heard about real-money trade of virtual property — but how about paying in real blood for your virtual stuff? Players of the Chinese MMORPG Cabal bleed half a litre to get their banned accounts back.

Thanks to Lassi ;)