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New "Station Exchange" Announced

Posted by Craig McGregor on Apr 20, 2005  | Comments

New "Station Exchange" Announced - MMORPG.com

Sony Online Entertainment's CEO John Smedley announced today that in late June they will be adding new servers which will have mechanisms in them to facilitate "virtual trading" of in-game items for real world cash.  An excerpt from his announcement is below:

Hello Everyone,

We have a big announcement coming out in the press in the next day, and I wanted to make sure you heard it from me directly rather than reading an article about it.

Starting in late June, SOE will begin offering a new service called Station Exchange. This secure service will allow EverQuest II players on specific servers to buy and sell the right to use items, coin and characters. To be clear, all we are doing is facilitating these transactions. We are NOT in the business of selling virtual goods ourselves.

I'm sure this is going to come as a shock to many of you, since for the past six years, we have held the line in not allowing these sorts of things to occur. I'd like to explain the primary drivers for this change from our perspective:

First: It's obvious that a large percentage of our players either don't mind this activity or actively participate in it. We've done a fair amount of homework on this subject, and we believe this is a $200 million dollar market worldwide, and there are a huge number of our players taking part in the buying and selling of virtual goods. We have conducted polls, and the vast majority of players either doesn’t care about it or would like to participate in it. We believe that by allowing this to happen on select servers, we can have a solution for both the many players who want to participate in this and for those who don’t.

Second: Dealing with fraudulent transactions of one type or another takes up roughly 40% of our customer service people's time. We have players calling us up or requesting in-game service for activities related to these sorts of transactions constantly, even though they are specifically disallowed by our EULA. You may ask why the percentage is that high when it's not allowed in the first place? The answer is simple. Many times, people in these situations aren't up front with us about what actually happened. "My sword disappeared from my inventory" comes to mind, when what actually happened is the player has sold the item to someone else. Our CS people have to take the time to investigate this claim because if something legitimately happened, we of course want to take care of the player's needs. We believe that by taking this course, we will free up a great number of resources to deal with other things for our players.

Third: We see this as a potentially interesting model for future games. If we came up with a game specifically designed around these sorts of transactions, it might be pretty cool. Online gaming is always evolving, and we’re going to see how a sanctioned exchange service shakes out in EQII. From our perspective, it's always wise to keep pushing the envelope.

[more...]

To read the entire letter - click here.

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