China Struggles to Evolve in the Age of Online Gaming

Worldofwarcraft_chinaChina is an interesting case, a society where strict cultural censorship gives way to a vibrant community of online gamers. But this online freedom only exists up to a point, as both Google and World of Warcraft can attest.

China's educated middle and upper classes are voracious online gamers, and many are unhappy with several proposed changes to the popular Chinese online game "Legend." This caps off a tumultuous few months for a Chinese government struggling to come to terms with the emergence of virtual worlds.

Let's take a look at why some Chinese gamers are staging virtual world protests, and why the Chinese government is moving to shut down offending servers in a bid to control the potential threat of unchained protest.

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Virtual Currencies: The Rise of a Not-So-Virtual Monetary Unit

From FarmVille Dollars to the Evony Cent,
nearly every virtual world, multiplayer game and online environment
seems to be adopting synthetic currencies – the little tokens we
happily give our real money to acquire.

Virtual
currencies each have their own exchange rate, from L$250 to $1 in
Second Life to 50 Evony Cents for $5 and everywhere in between. But
once successful virtual currency company now claims the success of a
virtual currency has little to do with its price.

Continue reading Virtual Currencies: The Rise of a Not-So-Virtual Monetary Unit

Free-to-Play Developers Drive Boom in Virtual Commerce

According to the industry news source GamesBeat – an offshoot of VentureBeat – cash transactions for virtual goods are booming, with pay-to-play MMORPG's like World of Warcraft surprisingly knocked out of first place by a surprise challenger.

Pixels and Policy explores the stats behind the claim, and why the biggest commercial growth isn't in the big-name worlds you might imagine.

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Why Virtual Gamblers Beat the Feds, the Developers, and the Law

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Virtual gambling never really went away

In the virtual world, bondage
enthusiasts
frequent the same nightclubs as conservative
Pakistanis
and Republican political
candidates

. Amidst this digital sea of acceptance, one thing is strictly
taboo: online gambling.
 

After the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act in late 2006, virtual worlds like Second
Life closed the books
on what had been a lucrative career for a few aspiring
online Trumps.
 

Or did they? As Pixels and Policy found out in a recent trip
to the virtual worlds of EVE Online,
Second Life, and Evony, illicit wagering
has found a way around the power of Congress and developers.

Continue reading Why Virtual Gamblers Beat the Feds, the Developers, and the Law

Can Virtual Currencies Eclipse Real Currency?

Isk-guide-header

EVE Online's ISK: The currency of the future?

From FarmVille Dollars to the Evony Cent, nearly every virtual world, multiplayer game and online environment seems to be adopting synthetic currencies – the little tokens we happily give our real money to acquire.

Virtual currencies each have their own exchange rate, from L$250 to $1 in Second Life to 50 Evony Cents for $5 and everywhere in between. But once successful virtual currency company now claims the success of a virtual currency has little to do with its price.

Pixels and Policy investigates Cellufun's claim that content – not cost – is the prime indicator of a virtual currrency's success.

Continue reading Can Virtual Currencies Eclipse Real Currency?

Virtual Economy Booms; Real Economy Busts

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The future world reserve currency?

Second Life may know something we don't, if this morning's report from the disconcertingly-titled Manolith is any indication.

It appears the economy of Second Life has surpassed that of the real world by a large margin, as the real-world recession fails to penetrate the confines of the Metaverse. Investors wiped out by the subprime mortgage scandals may want to pay attention.

The mad scientists at Linden Lab report stunning growth in the virtual world, with Linden – and real – Dollars flying out of wallets to the tune of $50 million per month.

That makes the locked-up credit markets of developed nations seem flimsy by comparison, with high interest rates choking real-world borrowing. Read on to learn how virtual economies are evading the real-world financial fallout.

Continue reading Virtual Economy Booms; Real Economy Busts

Breaking: Evony Sues Blogger Bruce Everiss for Defamation

We just received a shocking message from a friend at Evony, formerly Civony, the online browser world apparently plagued by player criticism and now a major lawsuit. Evony has launched legal proceedings against veteran blogger Bruce Everiss of Bruce on Games after what they claim were failed attempts to get Everiss to remove his criticisms of the game.

From Evony's pending press release:

The developer for the popular online video game Evony has filed suit against blogger Bruce Everiss for posting defamatory and false statements online about the company and the game. The lawsuit follows multiple rebuffed attempts to reconcile the matter out of court.

Evony’s Australia based legal counsel has proceeded on multiple fronts internationally against the libelous assaults that Bruce Everiss has leveled against Evony, LLC (http://www.evony.net), its game “Evony: Age I”, and its corporate leadership on his weblog and in publications worldwide in recent weeks.

Everiss caught the ire of Evony's higher-ups after several allegations against the game, the most striking of which accuses Evony of violating the U.S. law against internet gambling. Everiss claims that, since "Evony Cents" can be purchased with U.S. Dollars and then used on an "Amulet Wheel" to gain items, this constitutes a violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Among other claims made by Everiss against Evony: That its graphics, previous name (Civony), and game title font were blatant copies of Sid Meier's Civilization series. Evony also challenges Everiss's claim that it is a Chinese-based company by stating that it is registered as a United States corporation.

This accusation lacks substance, as much as it may appear sensible on the surface. The items won on Evony's "Amulet Wheel" are non-transferrable to other characters, meaning the items themselves have no cash value. This parallels the rise of Z Dollars designed to circumvent Second Life's much more realistic gambling capabilities.

Nevertheless, this is a bold move by Evony, and Everiss shows no signs of backing down. The press release is featured on his blog, and Everiss has struck a defiant tone in days past as the lawsuit became more and more of a certainty. 

More on this story as it develops.