There’s a lot of talk about trading game money for real money via eBay or other, more dubious, outlets. Different governments are trying to regulate gold farming and there’s always some sort of dust-up about who paid what for what. However, while all this is going on, Sony has been quietly allowing the sale of in-game money and items to players of EverQuest 2 for the past year, and the results have been rather pleasing.
According to an interesting article on Gamasutra, Sony has recently released a white paper detailing a years worth of in-game trading, and the results are rather surprising. The Station Exchange, Sony’s auction service, is rather similar to eBay: players put an item up for bid and, once up, it’s removed from the game world. Other players then bid on the item, and when it’s won, the winner receives the item and money is paid out to the seller, minus a small listing fee.
In the period listed in the white paper, SOE made $274,083 off of the player auctions. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the fact that if Sony hadn’t set up the service, players would have most likely just used eBay to sell their goods anyway. When John Smedley, CEO of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), was asked about the amount of money being channeled through these servers, he said:
I will admit the amount that some of these folks were making did come as a surprise. I do think it’s cool that a person could put themselves through College by doing this.
The farming business is a billion dollar worldwide market, so why wouldn’t SOE want a piece of that? It’s not a real leap to say that I expect to see this kind of thing in other MMOs soon. Just imagine the money that Blizzard could make.