I read this article this other day about the real world economics of the online gaming communities. Assets in these online virtual worlds have acheived real world value. The logic is that as they represent effort expended, they are desirable by other gamers to such a degree that they will pay real money for them. I wondered if this could be extended to a service.Rather than having the hassle of using Ebay to find or sell your credits in your favorite game, it occurred that a banking service with published exchange rates could be an easier way for both buyer and seller to interact.
Rather than bidding at auction, there would be published buy and sell rates per server per game for the most popular games. Both rates would be supply/demand driven: If supply drops, buy price rises: if demand falls, sell price falls. Of course the opposite of each effect is also true.
Based on this I did some rough calculations for a couple of online games:
In Eve, one english penny will get you around 12000 Kredits (isk). In Star Wars, that same penny will get you around 845 credits.
Carrying on with the Star Wars example, if the ‘bank’ set a buy rate of 10000 credits to the pound and set a sell rate of 9000 credits to the pound, the bank clearly makes around 10%.
In real terms, given that during May 2004 £400 has already changed hands on Ebay for Star wars currency sales and a whopping great £700 already for sales of Eve currency, TurboTas can’t help thinking there may be a small market here.
Of course, there would be a small admin fee to stop huge disparity growing between buy and sell rates. Also the only practical games would be those where character to character transactions are not only possible, but possible when the recipient is not online.
Further expansion would be possible with the transfer of other assets and even whole characters: The bank in these cases would act as agents.
Back up the transaction with PayPal money transfers and you should be laughing. Turbotas has grabbed gamingbank.co.uk. Anyone care to help?