Posted by: mrrx | December 18, 2007

RMT and Sony – not just holding hands anymore

Check this one out – (thanks Cyanbane)

NEW YORK CITY, DECEMBER 17, 2007 – Live Gamer Inc™ (www.livegamer.com) today announced its introduction as the premier provider of a publisher-supported, secure platform for real money trading of virtual property. Live Gamer is partnering with top massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) publishers and virtual world operators worldwide, including Funcom GMBH, Sony Online Entertainment, 10TACLE STUDIOS, Acclaim, GoPets LTD, and Ping0 Interactive Limited. The company was founded by industry veterans and backed with $24 million in venture funding from Charles River Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners, and Pequot Ventures.

Formalizing and Legitimizing the Existing Virtual Economy
Virtual trading today represents an estimated $1.8 billion in real money exchanged annually among MMOG players and virtual world inhabitants who buy and sell rights to use in-game goods, services, and characters . To date, such transactions have usually meant braving an unstructured, unsanctioned marketplace in which players lack protection from unethical traders, and do business in violation of the publisher’s terms of service. By introducing a fully transparent, secure, publisher-sanctioned marketplace, Live Gamer helps protect content creators from the distorting impact of illicit trading on their intellectual property and provides a safe alternative for consumers around the world who spend millions of hours in-world every month.

(More text in the link)

Now there’s an interesting deal. What could Sony be after with this exactly ?

Probably first and foremost, putting a certain amount of arms-length into the entire Exchange experience. How many gamers criticize them because of their profit every time a character or a batch of plat is being sold ? Seems hypocritical, devalues the gaming experience, and more. Even me, an Exchange player, agrees with these objections. But suppose it’s not Sony, but instead a company they contract with ?

If things stay separate, and there’s no back-end revenue sharing agreement, that objection disappears. Sony makes games and Livegamer is a virtual property broker. It’s a win-win situation.

Secondly, ever since I’ve come back I hear various complaints and difficulties that are happening with the Station Exchange service. “It’s not working for me.” This isn’t their core business, and maybe they’re trying to offload the headache of keeping it all working to a third party who can do it better. I know that’s one of the things I’d like to do in their shoes.

First thing I’d do as Livegamer is get away from Paypal. One reason I’ve never sold on the exchange is because I really don’t want to do business with Paypal – I have a very real fear I’m going to find my bank account hacked because someone manages to engineer, or phish, information out of me. The amount I could get out of it doesn’t justify the risk, although plenty of people wouldn’t agree with me.

Imagine Livegamer establishing an internal set of individual accounts. I log in as MrrX and can sell platinum in EQ2, credits in Anarchy Online, and whatever they trade related to Neopets. I can collect this money in my account and either buy other items with it, directly from their exchange, or request a cashout via check, credit card credit, or Paypal. Get tired of EQ2 ? Sell your characters and plat, then use those monies to buy the Pirates of the Burning Sea digital download and a stack of gold to get started.

There’s a lot of possibilities there, probably ten more that I haven’t even thought of. With a big enough tent, ie, not just a single game under which to build, they may manage to make a real go out of being a virtual property broker.

The thing I think most of you will be most concerned about is “Is this coming to all the EQ2 servers now?”. I’m betting this stays with the Bazaar and whatever the Exchange PvP server is. I remember well the brouhaha when they wanted to bring the Exchange to every single server, and so does Smedley. Expanding it might be a PR disaster; would people still quit the game over such a move ?

Now, might the Exchange be coming to a larger part of Sony’s holdings ? That’s the expansion I expect to see. Vanguard, Everquest 1, Pirates, and all the rest will probably end up either Exchange-enabled or with separate servers ala EQ2 holding the sanctioned RMT traders. There’s plenty of money to be made, and simply put I want Sony getting as much out of it as possible.

Did you see those recent articles on Yantis / IGE ? The amount of money passing through those hands is unbelievable. I’d rather see it benefitting Sony in some sense rather than the inevitable best-capitalist that would get the traffic otherwise.

Their official website has a tidbit of what you might expect out of the service –

Seamless In-Game Virtual Trading
Players can access the Live Gamer marketplace directly from within any participating game for uninterrupted game play and instant fulfillment.

Oh, and take a look at the game they’re playing on their front-page graphics :

home_background.jpg

Is it bad that I recognize Nettleville, just outside of the tradeskill pit ?    No, that’s normal.   You all noticed it too, before I even posted anything.    Anyway.

It’ll depend on exactly how they roll it out, naturally, but I’m hard pressed to see any issues with it, at least as regards EQ2. Here’s hoping it works well.

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Responses

  1. […] Lies Beyond the Seventh Seal? RMT 20 12 2007 By way of Mrrx and Cyanbane we are informed of the Livegamer’s entry into the RMT world as: “the […]

  2. […] 22, 2007 by mrrx Exactly what I expected, and told yall would happen.     No RMT coming to non-exchange servers for […]


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