You wouldn't expect a video game that features dungeons and dragons to be too long on reality, but there's an interesting departure from fantasy in Vivendi's
Hidden among the smiling, backstabbing gnomes, scuttling, giant spiders, and innumerable geeks who control said characters -- present writer included -- there are three virtual auction houses where fake beings can buy and sell fake property using fake money.
The in-game eBay
Geeky? You bet. But it's also a stroke of genius.
Foremost, it's a way of making more money for Vivendi. As with Sony's
Other MMORPGs before this have produced robust economies -- notably EverQuest, Ultima Online, and Blizzard's Diablo 2 -- allowing characters to purchase and trade items within the game, but this usually involved cumbersome online meetings and barter.
Because of their inefficiencies, some argued, the marketplaces soon produced problems unforeseen by the first game designers: the sale of virtual property for real money. Though contrary to most games' user licenses, it's a common practice. Just try an eBay, Yahoo!
Whether the new in-game system can overcome the ex-game item market remains to be seen, but it certainly can't fare worse than some game publishers' previous policies of trying to shut down auctions and sale sites. The virtual world is the same as ours: If there's demand, and there's supply, a market will follow.
For related Foolishness:
- Why would a superhero play the bully?
- Check out a real video-game superstar.
- Sports and gaming meet at the dollar sign.
That knife in your back? It could have been put there by Fool co-founder David Gardner, or his Rule Breaker lieutenant, Charly Travers. Join them on the Warcraft board, or see what kind of growth stocks they're conjuring. A trial is free either way.
Seth Jayson's noob Warcraft characters could really use some l337 itamz, but at the time of publication, he had positions in no firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.