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e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

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  • e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

    Story at

    news analysis By proactively delisting auctions for property from virtual worlds and online games, eBay may be effectively forcing players who participate in such trades into the hands of giant third-party operations that buy and sell virtual goods.
    Given that a significant slice of the multi-hundred-million-dollar business took place on eBay until now, the move portends a significant shift in who controls the market for virtual goods.

    eBay on Monday confirmed its decision to ban auctions for the characters, currency, weapons, attire and accounts of online games such as World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and others. The move was first reported on Slashdot.

    The ban does not affect the virtual world Second Life.

    In most cases, publishers of online games include in their terms of service a prohibition on so-called real-money trades (RMTs), in which people buy and sell online games' virtual assets for real money. Players who violate such rules can be banned.

    But because eBay has dominated the auction market for RMTs, there's little question that the short-term winner in this latest circumstance will be sites like the Internet Gaming Entertainment of the world, which control the third-party market.

    While there is no universally agreed-upon value for the RMT market, it is assumed to be worth somewhere between $250 million and $880 million a year, according to experts.

    eBay's move is "a boon for sites like IGE," said Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money: Or How I Quit My Day Job and Struck it Rich in Virtual Loot Farming. "They're going to have the field pretty much to themselves."
    But, Dibbell said, such a circumstance is "sad" because it restricts individuals from being direct participants in the markets themselves.
    IGE did not respond to requests for comment.

    For its part, eBay said its decision--which is essentially a move to begin enforcing rules against virtual-item trades already under way--stems from a desire to protect users.

    "Any policy decision we make...has to do with...basically a good buyer experience and good seller experience on the site," said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy. "We want people to continue to come back, and we want people to have good user experiences on the site."

    To Greg Short, director of Web development for EverQuest II publisher Sony Online Entertainment, eBay's move is likely a result of its wanting to avoid the time-consuming annoyance of dealing with customers who are defrauded over virtual-item sales.

    "The only thing I can think of from eBay's standpoint is...that there's a huge risk of fraud to the consumer, even more so than with physical goods, because at least with physical goods you can track your shipments."

    With virtual goods, Short said, there's no physical item to track and there are more opportunities for shady buyers or sellers to defraud their auction counterpart.

    But Edward Castronova, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and the author of Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, says the motivation behind eBay's move is not that simple.

    Castronova thinks that by banning items from virtual-worlds and online-game auctions, eBay is signaling its desire to stay out of the way of what it might see as an ugly future fight with game publishers and government regulators.

    "eBay is a big, well-funded company," Castronova said. "If they turn their back on this market, they sense it's not worth fighting (the people who run the games) to keep this going. The other potential fight would be with the government. The Korean government is passing laws that regulate RMT. It seems like maybe eBay is just saying that this is just not an extremely lucrative line of business."

    Castronova said another sign the RMT market has been deemed too risky is that IGE, which does millions and millions of dollars in annual business brokering virtual goods sales, has not been purchased.

    "In the long run, blue-chip companies are always going to see this as a rogue market with no future," he said.

    "From our standpoint, (eBay's decision) vindicates the idea of Station Exchange," Short said. "If companies take responsibility for the idea that things like this are going on and give their players a service that's a lot less risky, the players that want to buy can get their goodsŠwithout the worry that comes with third-party services."

    Dibbell agreed, particularly because the publisher of the game whose goods he trafficked in when writing his book, Ultima Online, has been willing to let players do what they want when it comes to RMT.

    "At the end of the day, the blame comes back to the companies that are banning this kind of trade," Dibbell said. "It's sort of disappointing that eBay is going to decide that though some of these trades are legitimate, they're going to ban them all."
    Last edited by OogieBoogie; 01-29-2007, 03:55 PM.
    Growing older is manditory
    Growing up is however, optional

  • #2
    Re: e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

    wait... this means no more VMK ebaying?? YAY!


    • #3
      Re: e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

      Originally posted by figment1986 View Post
      wait... this means no more VMK ebaying?? YAY!
      :lmao: Exactly what I was thinking!


      • #4
        Re: e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

        Count me as three!

        And congrats on 9,000 posts BPF!
        It's a Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah...Tip for Today!


        • #5
          Re: e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

          I sold my level 60 Conjuror 'Crono' on EverQuest 2 legally through Sony's Station Exchange service day two I made 500 bucks


          • #6
            Re: e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

            Heh when I was engrossed in the EQ world, I went to a Fan Faire in Vegas where there was this big party. (yes, I went to three fan faires, I was an EQ geek big time, but I digress...). Not sure where we heard about the party, but it was being held in a Las Vegas Hilton Suite on or near the top floor. This kid (he looked about 12) was at the door welcoming people.

            We thought, awwwwwwwww how CUTE the guy who threw this swanky party let his son greet people at the door!

            Inside there was booze a-flowin and PAID "ladies" flirting.

            Then we found out. That kid? The one at the door? That was nobody's son. He was the guy THROWING the party!

            He basically owned a virtual loot company, one of the main ones on the net at that time!!! Dear sweet moses, we sure hated that little slug after that revelation. Kid was making dough by the fistfulls! And ordering booze and girls! Oh the humanity! And now if he's still in business he'll be makin MORE money. At the ripe old age of 16 haha

            The stupid thing about this Ebay thing tho is that, for all the crap that Sony Online Entertainment pulled for the first 5ish years of EQ with the "no virtual sales" policing... once SONY figured out how THEY could make money off of the market, they tried to dominate it. I hate that company.
            I am grateful... grapefruit! ~ Bjork (upon winning Best International Female Artist at the BRIT Awards)

            Founding Member of the BA!


            • #7
              Re: e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

              Perhaps this will end all the silly talk at Washington to tax virtual assets.
              St. Elizabeth, Patron Saint of Themed parks. Protect us from break downs, long lines, and used gum. Amen.

              "Dance like it hurts, love like you need money, and work when people are watching" - Dogbert


              • #8
                Re: e-bay bans auctions of stuff from EQ and WOW

                Originally posted by thejoshualee View Post
                Perhaps this will end all the silly talk at Washington to tax virtual assets.
                but we would be broke if they taxed us... esp the kids on vmk...