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

Secondary markets

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

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

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

How big is the RMT market anyway?

Monopoly money -- photo by goat_girl_photosQuite a few very different estimates of the volume of real-money trade of virtual items (RMT) are available. Part of the reason for the different estimates is the very rapid growth of the user base, and the number of potential real-money traders, in virtual worlds.  Read more

SOE releases white paper on Station Exchange

Yesterday, Sony Online entertainment (SOE) announced the findings of a white paper on their official EverQuest II virtual property auction site Station Exchange. What’s interesting, there are now verified numbers of RMT available. The findings of the paper are based on data collected during the first year of operation of Station Exchange: from its launch in June 2005 to June 2006. From the numbers in the press release, it seems that most of the transactions were quite small, and most of the virtual assets were sold with a set price instantly.  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

2007: Year of the virtual economy?

The VERN blog has been quiet this month. Rest assured that the reason is not that we have been inactive, but that we have been busy working. In January I hope to have a little announcement to make.

Meanwhile, Steven Davis at PlayNoEvil has posted three excellent articles on virtual economies and plans to regulate them in the Far East. The first one is a Xinhua report on how virtual Q(Q) Coins are increasingly being accepted as a viable currency by Chinese businesses and how the goverment is reacting to this. The second one refers to a Korea Times story providing new details on Korean lawmakers’ plans to restrict RMT. The latest Xinhua article discusses Chinese Ministry of Culture’s regulatory ambitions over RMT.

Does regulation mean the party is over? Will governments step in and sever the links between real and virtual economies? Will games and community services go back to being “entertainment and relaxation, and nothing else”, as one Chinese MOC official puts it?  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