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A legal, in-game "Wal-Mart" of virtual goods coming to an MMO near you


Two very large names have joined forces to help battle the illegal (and increasingly annoying) digital Black Market that exists to sell virtual in-game goods. Backed by $24 million in investment money, Mitch Davis (the former Massive in-game-ad firm founder) and Sony Pictures Digital vet Andy Schneider will launch Live Gamer, a publisher-supported service that creates a secure platform for real-money purchase and the sale of virtual goods.

Already on board are MMOs and virtual worlds from Funcom GMBH, Sony Online Entertainment, 10Tacle Studios, Acclaim, GoPets and Ping0 Interactive (the company that provides access to the online, multi-player component of Hellgate: London), and they're willing to work with any publisher. With backing such as this, we may soon see a siesmic shift in the virtual goods landscape.

Nearly every MMO is now plagued by these despicable gold farmers and Real Money Traders bent on selling their warez, regardless of their legality. Even my beloved City of Heroes and Villains has recently been targeted with endless spam that fills in-game Email boxes and brazen "live" players (often named "jkjkljlkj") who will approach you trying to offer their services. A concerted effort from within the industry itself to stop these griefers is long overdue. Hopefully this will be the spark that ignites a widespread change.

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