This week the social game developer Zynga filed suit against the third-party virtual goods reseller PlayerAuctions.com,
alleging that the site was violating Zynga's Terms of Service and
unlawfully using materials copyrighted by Zynga. PlayerAuctions.com was
allowing individual players of Zynga games to sell and buy virtual
currency for real money, including currency from top Zynga games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars.
Grey-market RMT that violates a game's Terms of Service has previously been a problem mainly for subscription MMOs, not freemium social games. This began to change last year, when Playfish filed suit against grey market RMT site GosuMall. Zynga also began filing suit against third market RMT sites last year.
MMOs usually avert the grey market RMT problem by allowing players to
trade, buy, and sell items and virtual currency to each other through
in-game marketplaces. Some subscription MMOs like SOE's Everquest II
also use "sanctioned" secondary marketplaces like LiveGamer to cut down on grey market RMT.
games do not include secondary marketplaces that allow players to
freely trade virtual items to each other. Instead, players are usually
restricted to gifting virtual goods (but not virtual currency) to other
players who are part of their Facebook Friendslist. This restriction,
coupled with the runaway popularity of top Zynga social games, is
probably enough to create RMT grey market demand for Zynga currency and
This post by Alicia Ashby originally appeared on Virtual Goods News.
Join us for App Conference – October 18-19, 2012 in Santa Clara