What is waiting for gamers in 2012? No one knows for sure. But what we indeed observe is the transfer of the ownership and use right of in-game items. It proceeds gradually but may cause huge waves next year.
In the past, it was typical for MMO developers to grant players the use right of in-game items but hold the ownership in their own hands. However, they seem to loosen their fingers now. First in-game auction house, then cash transactions via third party is tacitly accepted. The ownership of virtual items is gradually transferred to the players.
A Brief Analysis of the Present and Future of RMT in Online Games
Although micro-transaction has become a major mode in MMO, cash transaction of virtual items is still illegal in many countries. According to the law, game companies should not take part in such deal, but also should adopt measures to stop players trading in-game items via third party. Such rule and regulation may change too in the future as the MMO industry has changed a lot since last generation.
Diablo 3 may become the propellant. Its developer Blizzard has announced recently that the auction house in Diablo 3 will support real cash transactions, which means players will be able to trade their in-game items with others for real money directly in Diablo 3. This news attracted tones of attention and disputes immediately after it was released. The fact that Blizzard will require a handling charge for these cash transactions also becomes the spotlight because Blizzard has built a base of 12 million subscribers by WoW.
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