| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 11:43AM smartstep said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Sooner or later current situation WILL be changed.

When more and more money will be made by selling virtual items, then more and more often their legal status will be discussed.

Similarly goverments of many countries WILL sooner or later start changing law in order to get taxes.

Currently sometimes taxes are not paid in microtransactions. They usually are when subscription is, but in case of microtransactions not always - you can be sure sooner or later this will be adressed.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 12:07PM SnarlingWolf said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@smartstep

I hope the law does get involved. Then microtransactions will become such a pain in the ass for companies that they will come up with the revolutionary idea of.... subscription models!!! That would be a great day.
Reply

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 12:56PM hami83 said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
I will laugh at so many companies if government allow the right for consumers to OWN the digital content they are buying regardless of what EULAs say.

And rightly so. Paying full price for digital games and content but not having the right to ownership of that code is BS.

It'll probably be a while before this happens, but as smartstep said, eventually so many people will be doing it that issues like losing everything or someone stealing your digital stuff will become more common and eventually the government will have to update laws.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 1:15PM Ref Minor said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
The terms of the deal are clear, you pay for the right to use the item in the virtual setting for the life of the game. You buy nothing, you own nothing.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 1:35PM Borick said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@Ref Minor Something can be clear and yet be unjust.

The game developers do not create these worlds in a vacuum. Without the robust activity of players, testers and everyone on down to the person baking Horde-flavored cupcakes for their bake sale there would be no appreciable value in the IP.

The tyranny of the EULA needs to go away. We will have ownership of our work.
Reply

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 2:44PM SnarlingWolf said

  • 1 heart
  • Report
@Borick

You baking copyright infringing cupcakes and making money off of them is not in anyway "your work". Besides the fact that it is technically illegal, it isn't doing any of the work on the game. You didn't program any of it. You didn't make 3d models and textures. You did absolutly nothing and therefore you own/have zero rights to anything in the game at all.

If, by some ridiculous miracle, people ever pushed a law through that players owned virtual goods and created those kinds of headaches, companies would simply go back to making single player only games as it wouldn't be worth all of the extra hassle and cost to make multiplayer games.

Good try though.
Reply

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 1:19PM Skyydragonn said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
I've alwayds said it was bullsh*t that we pay so much to effectively "rent" virtual goods, we the consumer have no ownership over that which we purchase and in fact can have our purchased items removed/lost etc for any reason at any time with little to no recourse for recompense. The current model so favors the producers aas to feel like it should be found in violation of the federal consumer rights laws.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 2:32PM Ref Minor said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
The atmosphere at a football game is generated by the crowd, but the club still has an owner.
Reply

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 1:40PM Borick said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Also, the real problem with real-world transactions isn't that players are cheating the game (They are) or that companies lose potential revenue (They do).

The real problem is the use of these virtual markets for widespread money laundering unrelated to the gamers or the game developers (Except for some of those who made their name and fortune laundering large amounts of money through the sale of virtual items). I think that's the real story that nobody wants to talk about.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 3:08PM Yapper said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Borick
The only way they could use something like PLEX to transferr funds is if they were actually capable of cashing out thier PLEX. I am not sure there is enough PLEX to pay for a five kilo shipment of, lets say, crack or some other drug of choice.
Once use of ingame funds become common place it will not take long for law enforcement or the IRS to crack down on it. It's a nightmare waiting to happen.
Reply

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 1:50PM enamelizer said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
All software works this way, regardless of the distribution method. There is no such thing as buying software, you are buying a license to use the software.

The licence you agree to is very clear that no ownership is granted or implied, and virtual goods follow this same model.

This is not limited to games and microtransactions, every single piece of software you have ever used works this way, even open source products.

In order to change the law, licensing laws as a whole would need to change (including things like LucasArts licencing the rights to Star Wars to a movie studio), or software as a whole would need to be treated differently than all other licensing types of licensing.

All I can say is good luck with that angle, consumers are MUCH more likely to get change via how they spend their money than they are getting licensing laws changed.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 2:37PM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Good article.

I am with hami83 on this. Most companies go through great pains to underscore things in their EULA and some of it is fair to players and others are not.

In the end, we are paying companies for a service they provide us, for a cost we pay to them. Some look at that as "entitlement" but we are on *their* servers and *their* property. Like any restaurant, they have a right to refuse us service. If some guy is breaking my restaurant's tables, that does not mean I have to serve him a meal afterwards.

I agree, it is a bit thornier issue than this, what with cash changing hands, but too many players just get so comfortable and involved in MMO worlds that they just "assume" certain things that they really shouldn't assume. We are in SOE's "house". We are playing in Cryptic's "domicile". It's their rules. If players don't like it, don't play or find another game (and there ARE games that promote selling virtual property for real-world cash in one form or another).

There should be some player rights because sometimes, EULA and TOS are wrong, but really, too many players just take ownership of sprites in a game. This is one of the big reasons why people don't like Cash shops (because they realize they have no real rights and paying money is tricky; well, I hope opponents against Cash Shops at least subconciously realize this). Mixing too much money into some things can be a recipe for disaster.

In some ways, this article may've given some ideas for players to pursue (that, IMO, they should not). But it brings a valid point. Certain people will monetize anything just as certain folks will think too much about sex or bring sex into things that were nowhere in the creation of certain ideas (C'mon...Bert and Ernie are innocent!).

MMOs are exciting places of social enviroment, but they can be frightening in different ways, too. Granted, I still play and enjoy them, so they don't frighten off too many folks.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 2:48PM Borick said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
"Mixing too much money into some things can be a recipe for disaster."

That train left the station over a decade ago. Between the black market trade and MMOs going corporate mainstream, we should see that the value of virtual goods is being exploited by criminals and corporations alike, but the people who suffer restrictions to their fair use and expectations of service and privacy are the paying, playing public.

We have a monetized disaster already. What we can do about it is change the status quo in favor of giving value (power, ownership) back to the players who are, after-all, the sole reason that these virtual games persist.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 3:30PM Ocho said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
You should mention that, at the end of the article, the author offer's a link to a full PDF version of his published book "Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds" for free.

Posted: Dec 1st 2011 6:14PM Azaetos said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Personally I am just waiting for the day that these cash shop items in games become part of law disputes. Something that I thought about when they first started appearing. That and governments getting involved with taxes and such on virtual goods.

Also I can see governments getting involved due to the young age group of many players when it comes to things like cash shop items that have random rewards (gambling) which will become the subject of scrutiny.

We haven't really seen anything as yet, but it's coming. Governments just haven't caught up with what is happening in the gaming world yet nor the lawyers.

Featured Stories

Betawatch: December 13 - 19, 2014

Posted on Dec 19th 2014 8:00PM

Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: MMO of the Year

Posted on Dec 19th 2014 11:00AM

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW