Report: South Korea Plans Online In-Game Trade Ban

June 15, 2012 -

According to the Korea Times, South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) announced plans to ban the trade and sale of commercial in-game items in order to keep teens from wasting time. This ban will be across the board and will affect everything from free-to-play MMO titles to mobile games. Basically any game where you can buy virtual items will no longer be able to operate effectively in the region.

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Blizzard Beefs up Security to Prepare for Real Money Diablo III Auctions

June 11, 2012 -

Blizzard is beefing up security ahead of the launch for the real money auction for Diablo III. In a post on the official forums over at Battle.net, Blizzard detailed some of the security changes that have taken place to ensure that people's very real money associated with their accounts will remain safe and secure.

The short explanation is that users will now have to use an authenticator before adding any funds to their balance and when sending funds to their real money auction house accounts.

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CCP Analyzes Aftermath of EVE Player Event 'Burn Jita'

May 2, 2012 -

CCP Games said last week that it would not interfere in the player-created EVE Online in-game event "Jita Burning." The event that was planned for months by members of the Goonswarm alliance, and on Friday thousands of ships converged on the Jita trade hub for a massive and violent attack. The trading center of the EVE Online universe really was on fire.

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Blizzard Details Fees Related to Diablo III Auction House

May 1, 2012 -

Blizzard Entertainment released details on the "real world money" and in-game gold auction houses today for Diablo III. The in-game gold auction will open on May 15 when Diablo III officially launches, followed a week later by the in-game auction house that lets players buy and sell virtual items, consumables and game gold for cold, hard cash. Today via its official FAQ for the auction houses, Blizzard detailed what it will charge players for various types of transactions.

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Report: Forty Percent of Freemium Players Spend Money on In-Game Upgrades

April 23, 2012 -

According to the latest data from research firm NPD Group, an estimated 40 percent who have played a "freemium" game that offers an upgrade option in-game have spent the money to buy the "full game." The data comes from NPD Group's "Insights into the Freemium Games Market report." The report uses data from 6,000 individuals it surveyed including both children and adults. The report notes that women and girls are more likely to play freemium games than men, but are less likely to spend money on these types of games.

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Facebook Sued over In-Game App Purchases

April 20, 2012 -

A California mother is suing Facebook claiming that the company is allowing minors to make purchases via in-game micro-transactions and that allowing this to happen without parental consent violates California's consumer protection laws.

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EVE Online Council of Stellar Management Chairman Resigns over FanFest Fiasco

March 29, 2012 -

Alexander Gianturco, the EVE Online player who mocked a suicidal player during a live stream of a panel at the EVE Online FanFest last week, announced that he is resigning as the head of the player-run, in-game government (thanks to Andrew Eisen for the tip). Gianturco was the Chairman of the Council of Stellar Management (CSM).

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Gametek Sues EA and More over 'Virtual Currency' Patent Violation

March 1, 2012 -

A company called Gametek LLC has filed several lawsuits in the San Diego federal court alleging infringement on US Patent No. 7076445, which relates to virtual currency and purchasing virtual goods or content. The company has filed suit against several companies including Six Waves, Crowdstar, Rock You, Electronic Arts, and Funzio.

The lawsuit explains the patent as:

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CCP Rakes in $66 Million in 2011

February 22, 2012 -

You wouldn't know it at first glance, but EVE Online creator CCP Games is a money making machine. According to an Industry Gamers report, the company managed to rake in $66 million in 2011 - we assume - solely from its space-themed massively multiplayer online game EVE Online. The company, which is based in Iceland and is privately owned and operated, did not disclose details on its earnings.

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Developers Call Facebook Currency Transaction Fee a 'Net Tax'

February 9, 2012 -

Developers whose platform of choice for game deployment is Facebook say that the social network's mandatory payment system ends up being a "twenty percent net tax" and seriously hurts their margin of profit.

"We thought conversions would go up and be around 15 or 20 percent,” said Kevin Chou, Chief Executive for Kabam, “But it turned out to be around 5 to 10 percent, meaning that we’re taking a 20 percent net tax.”

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Global Internet Economy to hit $4.2 Trillion by 2016

January 27, 2012 -

According to new research by the Boston Consulting Group, the Internet economy among G-20 nations is expected to nearly double by 2016, reaching an estimated $4.2 trillion (up from $2.3 trillion in 2010). In addition to that astounding figure is the projection that nearly half of the planet's population will be connected to the Internet — with 3 billion users in 2016, up from 1.9 billion in 2010.

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Rumor: Microsoft to Drop MS Points for Real-World Currency

January 24, 2012 -

According to several outlets - most notably Inside Mobile Apps, Microsoft is rumored to be considering dumping its Microsoft Points currency that it uses on Xbox Live Marketplace for real world dollars. Transaction will allegedly be shifted over to real world dollars instead. Naturally transactions would use the currency of the region a given account is in.

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Live Gamer Gets $8.5 Million Investment

November 15, 2011 -

Live Gamer has managed to raise $8.5 million in funding, according to a TechCrunch report. The new injection of cash comes from Charles River Ventures and Kodiak venture Partners, and takes its total investment to date to $30 million. Live Gamer is an e-commerce company that gives its 48 million users access to its micro-transactions and virtual goods sales services for various online and social games.

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Newzoo: Chinese Gamers Spend More on Games Than Koreans

November 8, 2011 -

New research released by Newzoo digs a little deeper into the lucrative Chinese and Korean online gaming markets. The research focused on the 190 million Chinese (76 percent) and 26 million Korean (60 percent) consumers ages 15 to 50 - who make up the majority of those who play games in those countries. Newzoo found that both countries were passionate about MMO games, with 100 million MMO gamers in China and 8 million in Korea. While both countries enjoy games, players in each country have different preferences when it comes to social and mobile gaming.

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How Zynga's CEO Will Hold Onto All the Power

October 31, 2011 -

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Zynga's latest IPO filing reveals that company CEO Mark Pincus will have "super voting shares" so that he can maintain control of the company. Basically Pincus's shares will carry 70 votes per share, as opposed to regular shares which will give stockholders one vote per share. While Zynga's five venture capital investors will hold a larger combined economic stake than Pincus, he will hold a larger percentage of the company's votes.

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Do You Actually Own Your Virtual Property in Your Favorite Online Game?

October 25, 2011 -

Is virtual property found within games and often freely traded real legal property? One legal expert says absolutely not. Minneapolis lawyer Justin Kwong says those virtual baubles you spent real-world cash on are simply lines of code owned temporarily through a license. Or so he posits in the most recent issue of the William Mitchell Law Review (as highlighted in this article).

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Valve: $2 Million in Team Fortress 2 Micro-Transactions

October 14, 2011 -

Valve Software claims that more than $2 million has been generated from Team Fortress 2 micro-transactions. The popular free-to-play team online shooter allows players to create, buy and sell virtual items to wear during matches. Apparently fans are fond of the system and are willing to spend real-world cash on luxury in-game items. Valve also said that it plans to update the system with a new interface to make it even easier for customers to create and sell virtual goods.

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PayPal Freezes Account of X-Com Remake

October 10, 2011 -

PayPal can't seem to be able to differentiate between legal commerce and nefarious activity taking place in its service. For the third time in recent memory the leader in virtual currency has frozen the account of an indie developer over the money it has generated for making and selling a game. Game developer Goldhawk Interactive says that PayPal has locked down around $4,300 because its account has generated a lot of funds in a very short amount of time.

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'Digital Sales' Surpass Retail Sales in Q2

October 6, 2011 -

Sort of... For the first time in the history of the game industry digital sales have finally passed retail sales in the United States, according to new data released by NPD Group for the second quarter of 2011. Of course, the numbers they present are not all digital sales; NPD's category for “digital sales” is an amalgamation of digital sales, used game sales, and game rentals.

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PayPal Users Love Pay-To-Play Gaming

August 1, 2011 -

According to figures released by PayPal, 12 million of its customers use funds for various Facebook games every month on games like Farmville.

"In massively multiplayer online games, the number of paying gamers keeps going up," said PayPal's Carey Kolaja. "The perception about digital goods is that they lead to micro transactions, which are small. But the average purchase for a paying user is in the mid-20s (in dollars). It is on a positive trajectory."

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Research: Consumers Spend Big on Portable Digital Goods

July 25, 2011 -

The average purchase price of virtual goods in free-to-play games on mobile devices is $14, according to a new report. According to data collected by mobile analytics firm Flurry, consumers who make in-app purchases are willing to spend large amounts of money than they might have if they simply downloaded it for 99 cents. Flurry claims that 51 percent of in-app purchase transactions come from transactions that are $20 or more. The $20-or-more transactions account for only 13 percent of the total number of transactions.

“We were surprised the numbers were so high,” says Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry. “Clearly, the high end of the spending drives the average up.”

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Report: Video Games Help Reduce Violent Crime Rates

June 21, 2011 -

A BBC report (thanks Magic) tries to surmise why violent crime rates in the United States have dropped dramatically in the last twenty years. The report offers ten possible reasons for this including The Obama presidency, good police work, the fall in demand for crack cocaine, police department number crunching, aging baby boomers, a decline in children's exposure to lead in petrol, more criminals behind bars, and a controversial theory that the increased availability of legal abortion has had an impact on population in poorer neighborhoods.

But the most interesting reason comes in at number nine. That entry cites a recent study conducted by researchers in Texas working with the Centre for European Economic Research. From the article:

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China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

May 26, 2011 -

According to a report in UK-based paper The Guardian, China has been using its prison population as slave labor.. in MMORPG's. According to the report, prisoners were put to work breaking rocks and digging trenches in in the coalmines of Northern China. By night prisoners would be forced to play MMORPG's to earn virtual currency, which guards would trade for real-world money.

One prisoner, who served three years at the Jixi labor camp for pointing out corruption in his hometown, described the conditions at the camp in startling detail. Liu Dali told the paper that prisoners were forced to play online games to enrich the guards of the prison. The 54-year-old was a former prison guard who made the mistake of "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown in 2004. Dali says that the online slave labor is probably more lucrative than the physical labor that prisoners are forced to do.

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Playfish Dumps Currency for Facebook Credits

April 19, 2011 -

EA's social games division Playfish announced that it is dumping its virtual currency in favor of Facebook's new currency. All of the company's games will now use Facebook Credits, putting Playfish in line with a recent Facebook edict that all social game developers would need to offer support for its new currency in all of their games by July 1.

Speaking to its fans on the Playfish blog, the company said the following:

"Rest assured, you will not lose any of the Playfish Cash you have bought up to now."

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FBI Raids University of Michigan Students' Apartment over WoW Gold Farming

April 14, 2011 -

The FBI has raided the apartment of two University of Michigan students to investigate what it has called "potentially fraudulent sales or purchases of virtual currency that people use to advance in the popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft." The story comes from Computer World. The FBI thinks the two students are terrorists who are doing "something" in World of Warcraft to further some sort of terrorist plot. It's hard to say what exactly they suspect from the two within Blizzard's virtual world, but they obviously aren't going on a hunch here.

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Playfish Killing Three Facebook Games for Underperformance

April 12, 2011 -

Despite still garnering around 40,000 daily visits, several Playfish games are getting the axe. The wholly owned EA Facebook developer says that it will close several games because they are no longer garnering the kind of traffic they deem as "good." The games, Pirates Ahoy, Poker Rivals and Gangster City will each go offline on June 7. Playfish urges users to spend their "Playfish cash" on its other games.

The firm, owned by Electronic Arts, said the trio of games "are no longer performing at a level in which they can continue to be supported."

According to data gathered by InsideSocialGames suggests that there is still consumer interest in these games. Pirates Ahoy, for example, still has around 40,000 daily active users and attracts approximately 267,000 customers per month.

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Empire Avenue Lands on Facebook

April 6, 2011 -

Empire Avenue is now available as a Facebook App. The financial-social simulation game was developed by former BioWare employees and basically lets players trade in other people via a virtual stock market. Participants buy and sell shares in their friends, family, celebrities, etc. As you earn a higher stock price for yourself and others, you gather virtual currency and achievements. The goal of the game is to be more social and to show your appreciation for the social activities of others that use things such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more.

Empire Avenue is at least worth a look if you haven’t checked it out already and it being on Facebook makes it easy to jump right in. Plus it doesn't hurt that the BioWare founders have invested in it. Anyway, you can check it out at apps.facebook.com/empireavenue or at its original location - empireavenue.com.


Report: Apple Smurfs Capcom on Smurfing Smurf Berries

February 16, 2011 -

While Capcom's Smurfs' Village is one of the top grossing iPhone games in the App Store, reports are circulating that Apple has called publisher Capcom in for a side bar after numerous complaints from parents about "hundreds and thousands of dollars in transactions" made by their children without their consent. I think some of these parents might call this situation smurfing ridiculous.

According to a PocketGamer report - citing "well-placed sources" - Apple has told Capcom in "no uncertain terms" that its free game is causing a lot of headaches for parents and Apple.

The problem has to do with the game's micro-transaction system that lets players buy copious amounts of "Smurf berries." Some of these parents have apparently been given refunds for what they call "accidental purchases."

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Congressman Markey Wants FTC to Probe App Transactions

February 9, 2011 -

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Ma.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at the marketing practices of applications on Apple's App store and Google's Android Marketplace. Markey's concerns relate to programs geared towards children that may not adequately inform users of potential charges - particularly micro-transactions.

On Tuesday Markey sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz (and copied to Google and Apple), pointing to a story in The Washington Post about how in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo have caught some parents off guard. The Children apparently used parents' passwords to buy in-game items instantly.

"I am concerned about how these applications are being promoted and delivered to consumers, particularly with respect to children, who are unlikely to understand the ramifications of in-app purchases," Markey wrote in the letter.

Facebook Adds Two New Services to Facebook Credits

February 8, 2011 -

Facebook has added two new services to its Facebook Credits virtual currency called "buy with friends" and "frictionless payments." App developers will be able to implement these features into their games, adding some small measure of enhancement above what can be done currently with proprietary virtual cash. The "buy with friends" service allows users to spam share discounts on virtual items with friends (who are playing the same game) via the news feed. "Frictionless payments" are smaller sized Facebook credit blocks that can be purchased in small increments. This allows users to spend a little bit of money to buy 30 credits or less for the purchase small in-game items.

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Matthew WilsonI have said it before net nutrality will not be made in to law until Google or Netflix is blocked, or they do what they did for sopa and pull their sites down in protest.04/23/2014 - 8:02pm
Andrew EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/another-world-rated-for-current-consoles-handhelds-in-germany/ Another World fulfills legal obligations of being on every gaming system under the sun.04/23/2014 - 12:34pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-do-strong-reviews-lead-to-stronger-sales-on-steam/?comments=1 Here is another data driven article using sales data from steam to figure out if reviews effect sales. It is stats heavy like the last one.04/23/2014 - 11:33am
Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
RedMageI'm still disappointed the 360 never broke into Japan either. It had a bevy of great RPGs in the late 2000s.04/23/2014 - 9:48am
TheSmokeyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/call-of-duty-swatting-hoax_n_5195659.html?utm_hp_ref=canada&ir=Canada CoD loser calls SWAT on person who beat him04/23/2014 - 7:13am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/xbox-one-reaches-japan-on-september-4/ Just give it up, Microsoft. You're NEVER going to be big in Japan, especially now that the notoriously clunky in Japan Kinect is MANDATORY.04/23/2014 - 7:10am
Cheater87Has this been posted yet? http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/Lord+Spencer/ssv-saudi-arabia-bans-bravely-default-because-it-promotes-pedophilia--272016.phtml04/22/2014 - 9:31pm
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/133898-Fatal-Frame-V-Coming-Exclusively-to-Wii-U04/22/2014 - 8:50pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a game worth playing if you have a pc/360/ps304/20/2014 - 9:34pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://twitter.com/IGLevine/status/457552538343325696 The Lutece Twins show up in some of the most unlikely of places.04/20/2014 - 2:44pm
Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
 

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