Game talkLive Gamer: an official RMT platform

 Posted by (Visited 9214 times)  Game talk
Dec 172007
 

The news is out about Live Gamer, an independent, VC-funded platform for player-to-player transactions using RMT. And it’s got publisher backing. Gamasutra has a Q&A that answers some questions.

They kick off with a slate of MMO and virtual world operators including Funcom GMBH, Sony Online Entertainment, 10Tacle Studios, Acclaim, GoPets and Ping0 Interactive, all of whom will work with Live Gamer to provide the transaction platform to their users.

Of course, they are backed in part by the now-ubiquitous Charles River Ventures (who are also backing us over at Metaplace).

My thoughts? There’s a large and thriving ancillary services market that has sprung up around MMO publishers and developers — and some percentage of the users’ dollars have shifted from going to publishers to going to these service providers. Over time we have seen services aimed directly at users for the following:

And of course, RMT.

The point isn’t whether any of this is healthy for the game or not; the point is that there’s a consumer market. All of these services have always existed, the question was who was operating them, whether they were run as real businesses, and how much revenue people derived from them. In some cases, we have seen vertical integration happen, where MMO publishers started offering these services directly. In others, it has been seen as a stronger and better business ecology if the services are run by third parties.

It is unsurprising, given the amount of financial incentive that flows through the RMT market, that there would be companies who take advantage of it. It is also unsurprising that publishers would choose to get on board to some degree. Uncontrolled RMT is

  1. worth billions to someone else
  2. damaging to the games
  3. impossible to eradicate

Controlled RMT is

  1. worth millions
  2. controllable and therefore potentially less damaging

Seems like a no-brainer from that angle. Presuming, of course, that you agree that it is impossible to eradicate.

My bottom-line: expect more ancillary services to come over time, and they are going to be for, well, whatever. Everything. Expect there to be services to allow you to maintain a presence without actually playing. Mercenaries for hire for raids. House decorators. Whatever. And these services will likely be in aggregate a greater revenue source than the actual world operation is.

Will the gamers like this? Flatly, no. At least not publicly.

But a heck of a lot of them will pay up quietly.

  21 Responses to “Live Gamer: an official RMT platform”

  1. incentive that flows through the RMT market, that there would be companies who take advantage of it. It is also unsurprising that publishers would choose to get on board to some degree. … Original post byRaph

  2. Raph’s Website :Raph’s Website » Live Gamer: an official RMT platform

  3. and how it actually encourages players to buy gold and use power-leveling services. Henning also looks at how the ancillary services operating within and around a world pull in more revenue than the world operation itself,citing Raph Kosteron the issue as well. Have a look at the piece at GameCyte, which discusses how RMT affects console gaming as well as MMOs, and just how inescapable it really is. Read | Permalink | Email this |

  4. I call dibs on VirtualRealityTV.

  5. […] Raph’s Website – Live Gamer: an offiical RMT platform “Expect there to be services to allow you to maintain a presence without actually playing. Mercenaries for hire. House decorators. Whatever. And these services will likely be in aggregate a greater revenue source than the actual world operation is.” (tags: ***** livegamer virtualworlds virtualgoods virtualservices metaverse gaming markets businessmodel work serviceecologies economics time levels strategy guide guilds) […]

  6. You skipped the market it tools, particularly hacking / automation/ exploit tools.

  7. 1: Just because it’s controlled, doesn’t mean it isn’t damaging.
    2: Just because you implement controlled RMT, that doesn’t mean you get rid of uncontrolled RMT.
    3: Just because players are prepared to do something in spite of disliking it, that doesn’t make it a good idea.
    $0.02

  8. 1: No, just potentially less damaging.

    2: True, but some portion of it moves over. So not full effect, but partial effect is better than no effect.

    3: Of course not. But if they keep doing it, then that pretty much settles it as far as a profit-driven corporation goes.

  9. True, true, and true.

    I only really dislike developers getting involved in RMT because it reinforces fixed design paradigms.

  10. And there is the side bet. Predictable. Now the question will be one of reputation.

  11. […] 18th 2007 @ 9:30AMFiled under: Economy, Game mechanics, MMO industry, Making moneyRaph Koster has posted about Live Gamer, a new service we posted about yesterday (heavily funded by venture capitalists) […]

  12. Interesting. I hadn’t seen the escort service you linked above, you are essentially buying a buddy to play with unless I miss the point and it is just powerleveling. As for Live Gamer I have to admit that as far as developers becoming involved my concern is that they control what is being sold. They can sell their own homemade Uberaccounts or items and the market would be aware of this. As you point out, there may be more money here than in the subscriptions, it will be hard to keep everyone honest. I am aware they can do this today, but having a company approved path may grey the line on the ethics of it even more.

  13. Isn’t RMT, as run by the Developer itself, even MORE damaging then grey market RMT?

    After all, many players are in Virtual Worlds for the status, for the socialization, for the entertainment value. RMT generally hurts all these goals. RMT lets some jackass with $$$ beat out the many, many players who are in Virtual Worlds to escape their low-status, low-income lives. As per socialization, how many of us have had guild members quietly eBay, to be replaced by sinister new controllers who raid guild banks? And in a world where RMT is necessary to have best items and to progress, anyone who does not pay the extra cash is forced to endlessly farm and grind just to stay level with the Joneses. Sounds fun! See: Naxxrammas and Flasks in WoW.

    When RMT is chased to the grey market, players trust that the Developer will discourage RMT, will try to make sure that status and progression do not depend on RMT, and will generally have goals that align with the RMT-hating players. When Developers profit from RMT, they have an incentive to make gold-buying normal, to hand the best loot to those who pay for it, and generally to act against my interests.

    All in all, players hate RMT not because it’s some artifact of an old knightly code, but because it directly hits their enjoyment of the game. Even if it’s “inevitable,” at least on the grey market it’s not socially acceptable or necessary for progression.

  14. Isn’t RMT, as run by the Developer itself, even MORE damaging then grey market RMT?

    Depends what controls the developer puts in. Many of the side effects can be ameliorated by setting up controls on the dev side — like removing transferability of purchased items, detecting frequent purchases and adjusting game balance to cause them to spawn more, or affecting XP gains based on whether an item was purchased, etc etc.

    The case could even be made that by offering the right things for sale (say, pre-twinked characters) you could reduce the effects you are talking about, like the “sinister new controllers looting guild banks.”

  15. some jackass with $$$ = someone with a job

    many, many players who are in Virtual Worlds to escape their low-status, low-income lives. = someone without a job

    And in a world where RMT is necessary to have best items and to progress, anyone who does not pay the extra cash is forced to endlessly farm and grind just to stay level with the Joneses. = people who have lots of time win in games based on time sinks

  16. […] Raph’s Website » Live Gamer… by Shinji […]

  17. […] Raph Koster blogged about Live Gamer, a Real Money Trading (RMT) company whose goal is to legitimize RMT and other gaming services that are on the black market, as it were. […]

  18. […] stops here again… This topic won’t go away; it’ll be oft-discussed, glazed over, resuscitated again and again to be only horribly killed off in some fashionable way until the next press wire strikes […]

  19. […] support of the game companies themselves. Several companies, including SOE, back the venture. Raph thinks that “Will the gamers like this? Flatly, no. At least not publicly. But a heck of a lot of them […]

  20. […] initial contracts to provide publisher-authorized secondary markets. As usual, I agree with Raph that this is so much of an inevitability that it should be uncontroversial. However, what LiveGamer […]

  21. […] sites:Gamasutra: Q&A: Live Gamer's Schneider reveals MMO item-trading platformRaph Koster: Live Gamer: an official RMT platformReacties […]

  22. […] and Raph both throwing down their reasoning behind it all.Background :Raph : A post regarding Lifegamer site i.e. for Official RMT Trading.Tobold : His response to Raph’s post pertaining to Livegamer as well as to RMT curbing.Raph : In […]

  23. […] F2P News There and (mostly) Back Again; A Solstice Greetinglinks for 2007-12-20Live Gamer: an official RMT platformMTV declares music industry "broken" — and backs it upDavid Byrne and Radiohead's […]

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