Whether it be buying in-game goods, pre-built characters or a host of other services, most MMORPGs have some form of economy on eBay, with people willing to trade real money for virtual goodies. While most of the companies behind these games disallow such behavior, little is done to stop it. Now, eBay has stepped in, and has banned all sales of virtual goods. With estimated values of virtual goods ranging from $250 Million to $880 Million (though it might as well be $0 according to many), eBay is voluntarily giving up a huge amount of revenue to other companies that offer similar services:
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.
Why? According to eBay, it is all about user protection, which also plays in to corporate accountability. Sure, each sale brought in more money for eBay – but could it also be bringing in a host of legal problems? It's hard to track whether or not someone actually gave another someone a sack of gold in a game, no matter how much you try.
At the same time, there is also speculation that it is a pre-emptive move from eBay to get out of a market that could soon be pitched into a battle with game developers and local Governments intervening.