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Real Money Economy in Video Games

Updated on October 15, 2014
Money From Video Games!
Money From Video Games!


At some point you had to wonder... What if the video game i'm playing had a functional real money economy?

In this hub i'll go through the general opinion about it and point out a few working examples and talk about video games currency black markets.

This isn't a guide to sell your items, currency, etc. It's just a showcase of facts paired with my personal opinion on this matter.

The first pioneer!

Recently, for the first time a huge company decided to get in on the action. The company's name is Blizzard and their title is Diablo 3.

In my eyes, it felt perfect! Finally, a game where i can play my butt off and make a few bucks out of it if i choose to! The system was pretty simple. There's an auction house and you'd sell your stuff there. You get the money in your Paypal account and Blizzard would get a cut. Simple and clean.

However, it was removed recently. Why?

Players hated it. Diablo 3 game play was sub par and the auction didn't help. It all goes back to the eternal debate of free to play and pay to win. People invest their time, others invest with their wallet. Hardcore players or even casuals that spent a ton of time playing don't like to be overthrown just because the other guy has a fatter wallet. It doesn't feel like true gaming.

To top if off, before the expansion that turned Diablo 3 into a great game, good loots were insanely hard to come by, which made the player base even angrier about the real money trading. Add bots and Chinese farmers to the mix and disaster is bound to happen, and it did.

In the new expansion, good loot is a lot easier to farm and the content isn't so demanding so it's a more enjoyable experience with no need for an auction house if people have the time to play.

Personally, i like the idea of a real money economy working on a game. Especially, if you play for years and finally want to move on... Selling your goods is a return of the time invested. Even though bots and Chinese farmers ruin the "investment", there would be a return at least!

Diablo 3
Diablo 3

If you're interested in a new game, check it out!

It can't be stopped!

Another reason why it should be more mainstream is the fact that it can't be stopped! The companies are better off taking a cut of it, than third parties.

There are a ton of sites and companies that live off trading in-game currencies and items for real money. It's always infuriating for the player base, but the operation is too big to shut down, even if they try. Especially, in free to play games where you can create account after account and just spam your deal in the game chat. That's even more aggravating.

Playerauctions is a reputable company that supports trading between players with real money. They support hundreds of games and make it safer to move around withing the "black market". There are sites that offer the chance to build your own shop or forums with VIP systems that gives you reputation for each successful trade.

There is no stopping a real money economy outside of the game, why not implement it? They try to manage it but it's impossible to ban every bot. If they do, new accounts are created... It's a million dollar industry so it won't stop. Fact.

On the other side, it gives opportunities to many people! I know quite a few people that live off buying and selling in-game currency. Very rarely, they're caught, and if they are it doesn't matter much. They buy off cheap from gamers that want to make a quick buck and sell it the same day for a higher price. It's that easy if you have the money to do so and connections to dispatch it quickly.

Do you think is wrong to trade through the "black market"?

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No game is safe!

This happens in every game that has an audience. There will always be someone with no reservations about spending money in a game to save them time. Doesn't matter if it's free to play or buy to play or pay to play. Every type there's always something to sell. Even if it's accounts that you boost with your time or bots!

In my view, this just enforces the fact that a real money economy or trading should be more main stream.

Entropia Universe Has A Real Money Economy
Entropia Universe Has A Real Money Economy


The only reputable MMORPG that i know of that truly supports a real money economy is Entropia. Literally, everything in that game runs off of real money, even bullets! Why isn't that game more popular or known? Well, the game play isn't great, which doesn't attract real gamers for starters. Secondly, the fact that everything means real money, even your skills makes it a losing game for newbies. You either spend hundreds of hours farming for a few pennies or you invest. And since anything costs money, the company needs to make money! They need players to bankrupt and invest. It doesn't work, mainly, because it isn't a good model for a big player base. However, there a few cases that live off the game, but that's due to their economic prowess!

What's growing now are real money browser games. For example, Marketglory and Cashtown. Strategy games, where you can trade gold for real money. The problem is, they're boring and slow paced, unless you invest a ton of money into them and know how to grow from it! At the moment, they feel more like a task than a game.

In the end, it's good they're exploring this stream, i believe.

Sweet Virtual Money!
Sweet Virtual Money!

What i'd like to see!

Even though, i understand the point of view of players that complain they spend their time to get a better city, character, skills, etc. I'd prefer games where you can actively trade your things for money. It would be more exciting overall. Imagining, you're playing with your buds and a super rare item drops and you sell it for 300 euros. Insane right? And totally awesome!

I'd like to see a MMORPG with a real money auction house like Diablo. You buy the game and play for free afterwards. A game where you can do tasks and be awarded a few pennies or deposit. That way, free to play players wouldn't be forced to deposit. Every trade between players would have to consist of real money and the company gets a 5% cut. That simple. The only thing needed would be a great, addicting game and voilá!

It feels impossible at the moment but in the future, who knows?

That's how i feel about it. How about you?

Would you like a real money economy in your video games?

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      Carlee 2 years ago

      I've been lokniog for a post like this for an age