EBay Rebans Game Auctions

I wish people would stop FREAKIN’ OUT about eBay’s recent press event — eBay is delisting auctions of game property again. Did I say again? I meant STILL. (Fucking duh, people.)

An incomplete timeline and history lesson (because although the blog never lies, back then, the blog didn’t exist):

October 1999 – EverQuest’s handlers, 989 Studios, Verant Interactive and, what would become SOE, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Inc. forbids players from selling EQ’s virtual property to other players. The collective EQ population thinks, “wtf, people are doing that? How can I do that?” Also in that article: at the time of its writing, there were over 1500 eBay auctions for EQ items and characters (possibly true) and EQ was released February 1999 (not true — it was March 1999).

April 2000 – Sony decides that “forbid” is a sissy word and BANS the sale of EQ items and characters from one player to another. The noob population thinks, “wtf, people are doing that? How can I do that?” EBay auctions are still going strong, although “Smedley (of Verant, later of Sony) said that he plans to ask eBay to pull the game items off its site. eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said eBay would likely agree to do so.”

January 2001 – EBay bans the sale of virtual items and characters on their auction site. (It’s even in fucking Wikipedia, fercrissakes.) The EQ EBay crowd moves to playerauctions.com and/or rewords their Ebay auctions to duck around the new rules (i.e. Seller is NOT offering virtual items or characters, seller is auctioning his/her time to acquire the items or to build the character).

The more casual eBayers started working with the private, professional virtual property companies (IGE, et al) — players would receive less money for their items and characters, but it was considered safer and faster than working out a private sale or sweating out an eBay or playerauctions sale. That changeover went down sometime in 2003, if memory serves. Certainly by the time Star Wars Galaxies was released (June 2003), IGE and its brethren were the preferred methods for casual sellers and buyers.

Which brings us to January 2007’s press event. Yawn.

Today’s Lessons:

#1. Apparently, the internet population completely turns over every few years and what was old is new again.

#2. Please people, if you want to dabble in virtual trade, seek the counsel of a guildmate or e-friend who has some experience. They can guide your noob ass through the maze that is the Virtual Goods Black Market.

#3. You can get “it” on eBay, unless “it” is virtual property. Still.

#4. When eBay announces they’re banning auctions of Vanguard items and characters, let’s all agree not to FREAK OUT. Thank you.

14 thoughts on “EBay Rebans Game Auctions

  1. I sometimes think it isn’t that the population turns over or forgets, it’s that many people LIKE getting outraged and worked up over things. They enjoy it. So they’ll conveniently ignore facts that get in the way of such outrage.

  2. It is STILL something of a change.

    EQ announces that they don’t allow ebaying of loot… but they lacked the recognition by ebay to really stop it. The ebay terms of service essentially didn’t give EQ much recourse. They could “forbid” it all they wanted, but that didn’t mean ebay had to comply. It wasn’t “unlawful” or a breach of their own terms of service, and neither party involved in the exchange was complaining.

    (I’ve heard anecdotes- don’t know how true- that when game devs tried to “sting” players through ebaying, they found that they’d actually be breaking ebay’s terms of service by entering into an agreement they had no intent to honor… not sure how true that was.)

    Then ebay changes their policy. They recognized the devs’ right to object to those auctions, but it was still the responsibility of the developer to submit a rejection. This was a time-consuming process, and as soon as one listing was down, another was up. Still, ebay had recognized the devs’ right to complain… it was just too cumbersome of a process to really use for more than a few “crackdowns” at a time.

    Now, it seems that ebay will be taking a more proactive stance. Maybe their search engines have expanded to the point that they can safely batch search-and-suspend. Maybe the number of customer service complaints has risen to the point that they found banning to be a cheaper alternative. Whatever the reason, they no longer need a complaint from the developer for each listing to act.

    That IS a rather big change.

  3. “Why let’s see how we can make this game as realistic as possible, so that it really will be an emulation of life.. I GOT IT!! Let’s ban the use of money!”

  4. As long as I can still sell really sweet furry demon strap ons on ebay I’m all for the lack of journalistic credibility. Fuck you, a year ago it would’ve been funny.

    This is the best blog post I’ve read about the whole ordeal. Ebay is setting some huge precedent and banning game auctions and I need a post for the day so I’ll reblog it without doing any checking! Second Life is another darling that grates on my nerves. I wish I could filter it from my rss feed and the “news” sites, hell from my brain too. The article you linked isn’t so bad really, but yea it should be ebay is still enforcing a ban… Gogo, sensationalism and back-checking laze; hey it works–time for me to go home and reblog your post.

  5. Chas, you just explained it better than any other recent post/article I’ve read.

    I still think it’s all about smoke and mirrors, and eBay’s slice of the MMOG black market was immaterial anyways, but appreciate your explanation and commentary.

    Now if it turns out that Blizzard is prepping to toss out some lawsuits and they were unwilling to take on eBay, legally, then we’ll have a good story.

    And I’ve always wondered that … either put up and start suing the big players in the MMOGBM (MMOG Black Market, I call © on that acronym), or shut up.

  6. The blogosphere could use a lot more Chas and less me. Read his outstanding post surrounding the recent brouhaha on the Pope’s speech on media. It breaks down the facts and proves once again the masses are quick to judge and blow shit way out of proportion.

    I had same similar thoughts. If Ebay is implementing more efficient measures to help them enforce a RMT ban, what are the real motivations behind it? (Is it legal implications from some massive force about to crush their piggy-bank and make mommy and daddy cry?) And no, the furry conspiracy doesn’t count.

    I like GBM more than RMT.

  7. I thought Lum’s bit about how everything but SL is banned, possibly because of a conflict of interest, was the real news.

    Also how they’re banning UO sales, even though UO allows it, was at least interesting.

  8. Pingback: The eBay Thing at MMOG Nation

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