I said it again and again and again, Real-Money Trading or RMT is here to stay, and the latest online gaming company to accept it is Level Up! Philippines.
According to Sheila Paul, Chief Operating Officer of Level Up! Philippines,
"The online game community has become so organic and so diverse that it would be hard to control people from going beyond the bounds of game rules. It's not cheating anymore because everyone is doing it already and it's becoming beneficial for everyone."
Instead of weeding out cheaters and sellers of game items, Level-Up! is supporting the growing underground economy by coming up with some activities related to RMT and bots.
For one, Level-Up!, which distributes several titles including the widely popular Ragnarok, is already letting its players to sell items through its official online forums (www.levelupgames.ph).
The company is even planning to have an online auction of rare items on June 28. Although the online auction is not new for the company, the money would be real and not just using Ragnarok's "zenny" currency.
(Personally) There is no point in fighting or stopping RMT or the use of real-world money to trade for virtual items. The reason is simple, players are tired of the hack-en-slash format of most online games. What players? The casual players. In fact I can safely say that there are some hardcore players who are also into RMT, be that they are the one buying or they are the sellers. Just like the WWF advertisements, if the buying stops, the killing stops, in RMT, if the buying stops, the farming stops.
Yes, "farming", farming for RMT. Almost every online game is getting these EULA violations and every online gaming companies tried to stop them, and many are still trying by banning thousands of accounts monthly (example, Guild Wars and World of Warcraft). There are only two solutions, both solutions equates to revenue.
First solution and the most popular one is by banning. As a publisher and/or developer, those banned accounts will buy new boxes to play the game and farm for RMT, and pay the monthly fees again. Ban them and they will buy and pay again, the cycle continues. Thus more sales for the company.
The second solution is to join them. Sony Online Entertainment or SOE coded their very own auction site to facilitate RMT and make it legal for the game EverQuest II. Via Station Exchange, players can trade in a secure environment, thus guaranteeing that the items they are buying are what they are as listed, and that the items will be delivered (Sony's StationExchange is scheduled to go live on July 20th).
RMT is a secondary market that has been around since the first MMOG - Ultima Online by Origin Systems, Inc. / Richard Garriott (then already owned by EA). Many gamers are against such activities but the market is huge. If one will search in Google alone, anyone will find reports of how much they earned by being a supplier, and how many gamers and non-gamers alike quit their real jobs and switched to "farming for RMT". Many are familiar as well with the largest company for such activities - IGE.com, who were even awarded by the Chinese government for helping alleviate the unemployment (rate) in China by helping the people get jobs.
But is it legal? We've seen it before, companies sueing RMTraders because they are selling "virtual items" which according to them "are pieces of code owned by put-developer-company-here", which is actually true, they do own those items. But the boundary between the real-world and the virtual world is already blurry, not just blurry but it is already overlapping, a good example is Second Life.
Second Life, as the name suggests, is your "second life". This is where you as a real-world person, can have a second life for you to live. You can buy a land, build your own house, decorate it, create your theme parks, start a business or simply, create a virtual version of your products. In Second Life (and many other games now allowing in-game advertising), the targets are both the avatars and the real, flesh-and-blood people, who gave their credit card numbers to register for a game. These people are the customers and these people will do anything to acquire what they want, RMT is the best way.
Is it good? Is it bad? We heard hundreds of reasons why RMT is bad. The good side, casual players will have a chance to be at par with the hardcore gamers in a competitive virtual world, whether they play and spend so much time with their characters as any hardcore do, or just play during their free hours. These casual players are also their customers.
To make it legal, the game, in my view, must also support it. Additionally, if the company running a certain online game announces its legality, they must provide support for their customers involve in RMT, better yet, provide a solution similar to Sony's StationExchange.
Little do people realize, the online gaming market is embracing RMT or the secondary market by implementing it in various forms, in the business world, we call it the "Virtual Asset" model, similar to what is implemented in RAN Online and SkyBlade for RPG type games, while Priston Tale's goes via a First In, First Out basis with their in-game "Item Distributor".
RMT if legalize is (being) called "Virtual Asset", people accepts the "Virtual Asset" model openly than "Real-Money Trading". The Virtual Asset model was first used in the selling of items for online avatar portals in Korea, then adopted by GunBound, then MMORPGs, until the time it became known officially by its current name - the Virtual Asset model. Today, more and more online game developers are embracing the Virtual Asset model, from the East to the West. A change in terminology in today's world is also equivalent to a change in ethical views and an open (psychological) acceptance of the same old idea with a new name.
No matter what it is called, be it Real-Money Trading or RMT, or Avatar-Items model, or Item Shop-model, or Virtual Asset model, it is here to stay. Either we repel it, or embrace it and turn it into our own useful (unselfish) advantage.
Some will argue that RMT is different from the Virtual Asset model. True, RMT is illegal and against the EULA of most online games. RMT is mostly done by gamers. On the other hand, the Virtual Asset model is legal, usually built-in or if not built-in, is being implemented in a different way, and the publisher and/or developer is involve with it.
Behind all those terms, it is still the selling of virtual items using the real-world money. It is a secondary market where many are already rich and companies are slowly embracing.