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Online auctions to ban virtual items acquired from online games

One of the newest developments in massively multiplayer online games is the sale of virtual goods. Players who have spent hours working for and accumulating items may wish to sell them for real-world money. Outside of in-game avenues, one of the more popular ways to sell ones in-game currency, items, property and characters is to list on eBay. But according to what the popular auction site had to say, sales of virtual items will soon be disallowed.

Speaking with Slashdot, Hani Durzy of eBay explained that future auctions for virtual goods from online games would be delisted “for the overall health of the marketplace.” Durzy points to eBay’s existing policy for selling digitally delivered goods and items: “The seller must be the owner of the underlying intellectual property, or authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner.”

eBay may be concerned about potential legal ramifications if a games publisher becomes unhappy that a third party is profiting intellectual property that it does not own. Sales of virtual goods are still currently permitted on eBay, but according to Durzy, the company will begin to delist such auctions in about one month’s time.

“Any policy decision we make...has to do with...basically a good buyer experience and good seller experience on the site,” said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy to CNET. “We want people to continue to come back, and we want people to have good user experiences on the site.”

The policy on virtual goods, however, will not apply to Second Life, which eBay has exempted from its ban. Second Life publisher Linden Lab has tried to make it clear on multiple occasions that its product is not a game, at least not in the same sense of that The World of Warcraft is.

“If someone participates in Second Life and wants to sell something they own, we are not at this point proactively pulling those listings off the site,” Durzy said. “We think there is an open question about whether Second Life should be regarded as a game.”





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