April 2006

Korean government to weigh in on virtual item sales?

From the Koreagames.com weekly PDF newsletter comes this bit of news as part of a larger article on virtual item sales:

As incidents relating to game item trading practice often make headlines, Rep. Jeong Seong Ho of the ruling Uri party made an interesting proposal that the online game item market be brought into the open…

He apparently made this after a survey of 450 people on his website. In possibly related news, there are over 400 virtual item sales websites in Korea.

…In addition, Rep. Jeong commented, “I will propose a strategy after reviewing the proposal on an open trading platform for online game items. Regulating the trading practice may only promote more irregularities and side effects.”

The article goes on to describe a new alliance between Korean MMO publisher SunnyYNK and ItemBay, known to most US consumers chiefly for their use of spambots on World of Warcraft servers but apparently the largest virtual item trader in Korea, which brokered 360 billion won ($38 million) in sales in 2004, earning 20 billion won ($2.1 million) in commissions.

The magazine concludes by coming out and advocating governmental action:

It is about time that the pros and cons of open trading platforms for online game items were reviewed and incorporated into a relevant legal and regulatory framework.

As there are several sides to this complex issue, a more discreet approach is required. The potential impact that liberalization of game item transactions may have on society as a whole should be studied in more detail and with consistency.

The Sleeper is about to awake. Take cover.

Anyone with any corroboration of the above that can be hyperlinked from the web, please email me. And as always, the things I ramble about here have not been cleared by, or have any reflection on any of my past or present employers but are purely my own opinion.

Oooh, Blizzard, I Hate You So Much! Fix Our Servers Or I’ll Update My Myspace AGAIN!

World of Warcraft has server issues, customers don’t really care that much

In any case, with no shortage of massively multiplayer online games, such as “EverQuest,” “City of Heroes,” “Ultima Online” and others, on the market, some might wonder why angry WoW players don’t just walk away.

But some say WoW has reached its 6 million subscriber threshold–no other American massively multiplayer online game has even broken a million–because its game play is easier to grasp for mainstream players. And because there are few other practical options for many such players, they feel Blizzard should take the performance problems more seriously.

“The thing is, there is no other real alternative” to WoW, [Joi] Ito said. “So they sort of have a natural monopoly, and that’s why people are so mad, I think. They can’t vote with their feet. They just have to wait. And ‘Blizz’ has to realize that they have millions of hours of people’s time hostage and should feel that responsibility.”

Amazingly, Joi Ito is responsible for a great deal of money.

mySpace banz0red omg!

Corpus Christi community college locks out MySpace for eating too much bandwidth

I’m sad that this has a logical explanation. I saw a news graphic with “Myspace Banned” at lunch today; with no context I could only assume that someone, somewhere, had reacted to the current news meme that kids are logging into Myspace and immediately being molested by pedophiles. (It’s part of the Myspace admin page, I think. You have to click on the Pedophilia check box to block that.)

By the way, I ate at a tex-mex place that advertised: World Peace Through Tex-Mex on the lunch menus. So if we don’t have world peace now, it’s not my fault, because I ordered tacos.

Dodging Falling Dinosaurs

Every so often, Raph pops up and reminds us that yes, he does actually know what he’s talking about.

Go read; but don’t think he’s talking about the future. Most of what he’s describing (collapse of PC gaming distribution channels, the budgetary version of Mutual Assured Destruction) is the present.

About 15 years ago (dear Cthulhu I’m old) I used to dabble in video production. Back then, the “Big Iron” dominated that market too. Video production companies had huge investments in massive, mostly analog systems costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I helped set up an advertising agency that did the same thing, on a Macintosh that didn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with a few Frankenstinian-level video editing addons and gewgaws. Where the “Big Iron” companies charged huge hourly fees for professional level video production, we cranked out the stuff for FREE – the real money, after all, was in placing the resulting exclusive ads that were produced.

Five years later our wacky Frankenstein project was the industry standard. Funny how things change.

(By the way, if you work on digital video today, pity our little Frankenbox – since hard drives of the day couldn’t import broadcast-quality video at 30fps, we had to get it digitized the hard way – one steenkin frame at a time. Took 14 hours for 20 minutes of footage, which saved out as a then-mindblowing “entire gigabyte!!1” of file storage. Nowadays my phone makes that look sad. My phone does better video. I have a PC hooked to my TV that digitizes video on the fly so I can watch the Daily Show when I feel like it. Things change.)