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eBay Bans Virtual Merchandise

Posted by SIM on January 26, 2007

eBay To Suspend All Virtual Item Auctions
January 26, 2007

A new report from technology news site Slashdot has revealed that online auction house Ebay intends to remove listings for all virtual items, regardless of type or game title, clamping down on third-party sales of gold and accounts from many popular MMOs.

Despite the Slashdot piece further explaining continued in-game item and currency sales through third party firms as IGE, previously profiled on Gamasutra in August, and Sony Online Entertainment’s own internal Station Exchange for its line-up of MMO titles, eBay has decided to close down all virtual item listings due to their inherent ‘legal complexities.’

The policy currently in effect covers virtual items of any type, including in-game currency, items, and entire accounts or characters from MMOs, even up to, the report notes, ‘neopoints’ currency for casual virtual-pet website Neopets.

Speaking to Slashdot, eBay spokesperson Hani Durzy told the site that the decision, rather than a new policy to end auctions, was instead simply a follow-through of existing site policy that sellers must own the intellectual property being sold.

Durzy is quoted as saying the decision is intended to be “for the overall health of the marketplace,” and that item listings would be pulled without punitive action for initial offenders, withholding actual seller removal for repeat offenders.

However, a large amount of virtual currency and objects from games such as World Of Warcraft and Ultima Online were still available on eBay as of press time, raising questions as to how swiftly and comprehensively the massive site could crack down on those posting such items – or, indeed, whether an active removal process was occurring.

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