Here Come The Suits
This throws a hefty spanner into the burgeoning virtual economy based on trading of objects and money that exist only in digital form, and undercuts the long-established assumption that this real-money trading is an established part of online gaming. In fact, most companies that run online games prohibit RMT in their terms of service, and eBay seems to be not only clamping down on an area where fraud is rampant, but also anticipating legal arguments about intellectual property rights (it’s still allowing auctions of Second Life property, because Second Life’s publisher, Linden Lab, encourages players to trade goods), as well as the interest by some governments in regulating and taxing RMT. With Sony Online setting up its own 'Station Exchange' service and the rise of third-party trading sites like IGE, it looks like the Wild West days of online gaming’s virtual economy may be coming to an end. The cutting edge of the electronic frontier gets civilized faster than Deadwood: one moment it’s all wild-cat prospectors and gun-slingers; the next it’s banks, mining companies and the feds. Any day now, I expect the Mob to move in.