Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Economy Is A Strange Thing

As anyone who knows me is aware, I have a pet interest in economics (pun intended?). So when I saw this article I had to post it. Funny how the cyber world is so advanced, or rather it's denizens are so accustomed to the idea of 'credit', that they easily convert the idea from one realm to the other. Commodities, left and right. In this instance you're not digging ditches all day to get paper from Boss Tweed that you turn around buy good/services with, but rather you're killing Orcs and Dark Elves for virtual gold that you then get your paper for. Fascinating.

Ebay bans online auctions of virtual game booty

Tue Jan 30, 2:59 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Ebay said that it had banned auctions of virtual gold, armor and other booty amassed in World of Warcraft and other online computer games.

The San Jose, California-based Internet auction house decided to bar sales of what was essentially computer code representing riches, swords and other items in games due to "legal complexities" regarding ownership.

"We decided it was best to just not allow sales of them," Ebay spokesman Hani Durzy said of virtual game goods.

"We are not saying they are legal and we are not saying they are illegal."

Ebay continues to allow auctions of items from virtual societies such as Second Life, where people represented by animated figures called "avatars" buy and sell homes and other "property" made of computer codes.

"Right now, Second Life is not considered a game so we are not applying the restriction to it," Durzy said.

In massive multiplayer online role-playing games such as Warcraft gamers represented by avatars wage battles and undertake quests, gathering gold, weaponry, armor and other virtual goods along the way.

Enterprising young gamers have earned livings playing Warcraft and selling their booty online to those willing to pay to advance quickly through the different levels of the games.

Durzy compared the ban on Ebay auctions of virtual game goods to the firm's decisions to bar sales of alcohol or tobacco, which are lawful products controlled by complex governmental regulations.

Ebay removes auctions of virtual game items found on its website, Durzy said. The policy was put in place within the past few weeks.

"Remember, our policies are ever evolving," Durzy said. "We will change them if the communities, state of the culture, or laws dictate such."

Ebay would not disclose the volume of sales of virtual game items it had recorded on its website, which reported 53.5 billion dollars worth of online auction trades in 2006.